Master of Chaplaincy
ULC Seminary Course
This course began by describing what a chaplain was and how chaplaincy began. A chaplain is a minister; however his ministry is out in the community instead of in a stationary building. A chaplain is the epitome of the workplace minister. The chaplain is truly the minister who is out in the highways and byways of life ministering to the needs of the people in the community setting. It was interesting to note that monks were some of the early chaplains. The monks often traveled from place to place and used signs to help the community find the various meeting places. They met in places that the community knew and they went to the community to meet their spiritual needs, much like the modern day chaplain. I found this course to be insightful. Most of the information was review, however the majority of the information I received as though a long time mentor was passing on needed information. One of the first items of discussion in the course was "The Call". The call is a term used to describe the awakening one receives from God to reach others with the good news of the Gospel. It is that innate desire within one to minister to others. The discussion of the call was such a confirmation for me. The call is a call from God for one to be God's representative on the earth. Those who are chosen to do the work of God have usually felt different, set apart, and we are, "We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood "as stated in the bible. I have always felt different and set apart and had a desire to help others. This feeling began early in my life, as I am sure other ministers have felt the same way. There has always been a knowing in my spirit that I was here for a divine purpose, and with that purpose was the obligation to live a consecrated life.
There is the saying in the bible, "To whom much is given much is required", this statement really relates to ministers. The qualities that a chaplain requires were also addressed in this course. Some of these qualities were described as follows:
- To be a good listener
- To be available and attentive to those who need your help
- To be accepting
- To be genuine
- To keep those items discussed private and recorded information in a secure place.
Chaplains are now available in hospitals, armed forces, nursing homes, in the prison setting, and truck stops. The need and the setting in which chaplains serve is ever evolving. I am sure that the future will bring many more opportunities to serve in various settings within our communities. Just as religion puts ministers in a box sometimes, it is our responsibility as chaplains, to think out of the box and be creative in meeting the needs of God's people. Chaplains can also serve employees in the various setting also, and those who have been hit by devastation and disaster. It is the job of the chaplain to come alongside those in need as a spiritual friend and guide.
In almost all of the settings in which a chaplain may serve it is important for the chaplain to be accepting and respectful to those of different religious beliefs. It is not our job to push our religious ideals, however when asked we can talk openly about our beliefs. It is also important for chaplains to have a working knowledge of the different religious groups or world religions. Our job is to serve, regardless of the person's religious persuasion. Studying various coursed with ULC Seminary has helped me to be open to others of a different religious view than mine. I personally feel that I am to live my life as an ambassador for Christ, and that the way I live my life will draw others to Christ. I am to be prepared to describe the hope I have and the peace I have obtained by dedicating my life to Christ. This is my personal walk, but I honor those who have chosen another path.
Burnout often happens to those who serve and give to others, especially ministers. As ministers we freely give to others, we pour out what God has given to us. However if you keep pouring out the vessel will soon be empty, and this can affect any minister. We also have to take the time to feel the vessel, with love, rest compassion, fun, and balance. We, as chaplains are the vessel, and we have to care for ourselves first in order to care for others. It is imperative for the chaplain to set healthy limits for those whom you work with and serve. Things such as having set office hours, set visiting hours, taking breaks and vacations are all ways to take care of you, while serving others. Taking care of your personal temple, through exercise, eating healthy foods, taking time for solace and prayer helps those we serve, because it helps the minister lead the life God has called him to.
Finally, it is important to be aware that there will be those we serve who may try to manipulate a minister and certain situations to meet their need. Setting appropriate limits, confronting in a compassionate manner, being wise and open are all appropriate interventions to handle manipulation. There are definitely tools to our trade prayer, a relationship with the living God, a good listening ear; love and compassion for others are some of the tools needed for the trade of chaplaincy. A chaplain has to stay true to himself, his or her God, their families, and the community in which they serve. It is imperative to live an ethical life that is worthy of the high calling from the most High God. As chaplains we need to avoid those situations that may cause needles controversy.
A chaplain, in my opinion, is one of the major foot soldiers in the army of God. It is an honor and a privilege to be used for the work of God on the earth. I think the author of this course did an excellent job of providing information that was very concise and organized. I could definitely use the information provided for reference material. There was many thought provoking topics discussed. I sincerely hope that taking this course will add validity to me as a minister and a chaplain. In order for ULC ministers to be taken seriously we have to be educated and confident in whom we are. Our relationship with God is of course the most important thing, but after that is to be prepared for the high calling he has called us to. That preparation comes from study, application, and training. As stated in the word of God we must study to show ourselves approved.
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