The Fine Print

I find advertisements, in any media form, absolutely fascinating. Great advertisements hit you hard with a powerful, colorful, and exciting message that promises a product or experience you cannot live without. Advertisements are designed to capture our attention in an emotionally charged way – a way that makes us temporarily suspend the critical thinking part of our brain. But that’s not all advertisements deliver. If you look closely or listen carefully to any advertisement, you will always find, the fine print. The fine print, otherwise known as the really small part you can hardly see, tells you what you really need to know.

Until now, many of you have been focused on the colorful and exciting image of Salvation Army officership. Many of you have probably been daydreaming about saving twenty-five souls a week, recording over a thousand people in Sunday School attendance, or even being known as the next Brengle. No doubt, this is exciting stuff! It’s the big picture that keeps you motivated. It’s the big picture that kept you moving through all of the paperwork and preparation it took to get you to The School for Officer Training. Don’t lose your excitement, while you are now faced with the fine print of what you have signed up to do.

In the weeks ahead, you will encounter a lot of fine print about all that you will experience in cadet life. You will hear a lot about rules and regulations. You will be given course syllabi that outline assignments and deadlines. Your daily routines will shift and a multitude of demands will be placed on you. Some days the campus will feel like the largest place in the world, while other days it will feel like you can’t find a moment of solitude without bumping into other cadets. Your energy level might drop considerably and physical fatigue might start to feel like a way of life. Essentially, the fine print of being a cadet will tell you, this lifestyle might require more from you than you thought.

Don’t worry, the fine print of your cadet experience doesn’t have to take away from the excitement and fulfillment of the big picture. The fine print simply highlights that being a cadet demands a lot from you spiritually, physically, emotionally and socially. This means, you have to be sure you are paying attention to how you are doing in each of these four areas at all times. Ignoring any one of these areas of your life has the potential to cause problems for you in other areas.

Balancing our lives among these four areas (spiritual, physical, emotional and social) is the key to achieving an overall positive state of health and wellness. Be sure to check in with yourself daily in each area. Spiritual – Maintain your daily prayer and devotion routines. Continue to stretch yourself spiritually, striving to meet any spiritual goals you may have.
Physical – Keep up with, or get in the habit of, a regular exercise program and watch out for foods and drinks that drain more energy than they give. Although it might be tough, try to establish and maintain a regular sleep/wake pattern.

Emotional – Recognize you are not alone in this major transition. Ask for support and encouragement from other cadets, the staff, and your friends and family back home. Consider getting involved in one of the many cadet-led accountability groups on campus. Social – Take advantage of leisure opportunities including athletics, off-campus shopping trips and movie nights. Try and maintain contact by phone and email with friends and family back home.

Your future as a Salvation Army officer can be everything you thought it would be. By paying attention to the fine print, and working to achieve balance in your life, you will learn that it can also be so much more.

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