Army Archives

Brengle’s Boot Brush

What has Jesus Christ placed in your hand to help you become the servant you need to be in Him? by Captain Charles Smith

As Christians we speak of servant leadership, a concept lived out by Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle. It was May 1887 when the Holy Spirit led a 27-year-old Brengle from NY to enter The Salvation Army’s training college in London. There, General William Booth confronted the young American at international headquarters, saying to him, “You have been your own boss too long. We are an Army and demand obedience!” 

That obedience began at the bottom, not at the top like Brengle thought it would. Classified as a person from “the dangerous classes” by the General, Brengle came off as too educated for the likes of the early Salvation Army and not reliant enough on the power of the Holy Spirit. His first duty, assigned to him by Bramwell Booth—the Chief of the Staff—involved sending Brengle down to the cellar with a boot brush, water and polish to clean and polish the boots of his fellow cadets.  

In his disappointment, he prayed to the Lord to take away this menial task he considered such a waste of time. But in the answer to his prayer, he saw Christ bending over the feet of his 12 disciples, including Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed the Lord. It was then that Samuel Logan Brengle whispered this prayer: “Lord, Thou didst wash their feet; I will black their boots!” He then went to work cleaning the boots with a song in his heart. What Brengle thought was menial became meaningful and began his journey to becoming a servant-leader in The Salvation Army. What has Jesus Christ placed in your hand to help you become the servant you need to be in Him?

About Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle

Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle was The Salvation Army’s most prolific and influential writer on holiness. Authoring many books, Brengle served in appointments that enabled him to teach and preach on what he called the “second blessing” of personal holiness.

Photo Credit: The Salvation Army National Archives