To Battle We Go: Flying a desk
By: Dr. Steve Kellner
Military pilots complain vociferously about “flying a desk” in the “chairforce,” that is, being assigned to administrative and support jobs instead of flying in a combat squadron. Worst of all is being assigned to these jobs at the Pentagon, the epicenter of military bureaucracy and miles from any air base.
Pilots join the military to fly, and they want to be where the action is and do what they have spent so many hours training for. And they know that they need to be in combat roles, leading an element, flight or squadron, if they want to be promoted.
But all military pilots accept that they must take their turn performing the support roles so vital to the effective functioning of a flying unit. Because no matter how good the pilots or how powerful the aircraft, if there isn’t fuel, supplies, maintenance, air traffic control and, yes, someone to handle the paperwork, the squadron will soon be grounded. Still, as often as possible, pilots on staff duty will sneak out of the office and head for the nearest available airplane to get in some flying time.
Many officers, soldiers, and Salvationist employees find themselves in support roles, sometimes temporarily, sometimes for extended periods of time. They may be involved in the administrative wing of the Army – HR, finance, development – or in divisional or territorial level program roles. Or they may perform a corps level job like corps treasurer or record sergeant that doesn’t feel very people-oriented. Having minimal contact with the “least and the lost” can leave one feeling disconnected from the mission.
But Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 12:19-20 that all the parts of the body are necessary for the church (or, The Salvation Army) to function well. “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” Yes, some gifts and roles are more prominent, like the gifts of prophecy, teaching and healing, or out-front leadership roles like YPSM, corps officer or divisional leader. But the gifts and roles that are seldom seen by most are also absolutely necessary.
So, take heart if you are currently “flying a desk.” Your role is vitally important to the Army’s mission, even if you can’t always see the results of what you are doing, or how you fit in the big picture of what God is doing through the Army. But every Salvationist should pine for the front lines of the Army, so make sure you sneak out and fly that airplane as often as you can!