You Never Know
By Pastor David Rosenbaum
Isn’t that a great thing about the ministry? You never know what will come up from day to day. The next phone call, the next person you meet, the next door the Lord opens may present a situation you have never faced before.
Chaplaincy means facing unexpected scenarios, whether in a hospital, on a military base, in a jail, or in other institutions. Sometimes those conundrums pop up—jack-in-the-box style—in your own congregation.
I have completed two of the three foundational courses for chaplaincy certification. The first, “Communicating Forgiveness,” refreshed us with a tour of the gallery of images Scripture uses to portray God’s action of lifting the burden of guilt. The variety of graphics has inspired a greater use of those word pictures in my preaching, and a more focused emphasis on that liberating concept in my weekly class at the county jail.
Think the national debt is a big deal? “A Scriptural Approach to Addiction Counseling” was bigger—at least for a pastor/chaplain. This class examined the major addictions—alcohol, drugs, pornography—from both secular and spiritual angles. Outside reading introduced us to various counseling approaches, but the focus on law/gospel ministry to the addict was extremely helpful.
Assignments were based on actual case histories, and the nine class members produced a potpourri of perceptions of each person and personality. The spectrum of approaches and our mutual critiques resulted in lively, sometimes humorous discussions and unanimous agreement that we had been part of a very special experience over 16 weeks. An added treat was being able to vicariously experience our brothers’ fields of labor, from Alaska to Zambia, from the Midwest to the Mid-Pacific.
Lessons learned have been applied to addicts inside and outside my congregation. The “hopeful solutions” model was particularly, well, hopeful, focusing on incremental, doable steps. “The Forgiveness Process” lends itself to application with inmates (yes, some actually admit that they are guilty!) and to a soldier who feels unable to forgive himself for actions on the battlefield.
Brothers, join us for the next class. Every ministry has certain aspects of chaplaincy. You will grow from these classes, your flock will benefit, and your fellow pastors/chaplains will learn from your experiences.