Most of you know that I have written these posts for Transitions by The Book for more than seven years now – and that I attended seminary to get my formal education in theology and the original biblical languages, but you may not be aware of the fact that I was ordained and also founded a ministry named Chaplains at Work. It was incorporated back in 2003 and for a number of years, I believed that I would end up leading a church and never darken the doorstep of the corporate world again. But apparently, that wasn’t God’s plan for my life.
My cousin, David, and another brother in Christ, Mark, serve on the Board of Chaplains at Work and are my accountability partners. In fact, David ministers in the area of financial management and is active in our ministry on a daily basis. Throughout the years, there have been many Christ centered men and women who have come and gone as well as a number of donors who helped launch the ministry in its early years when it was started during my seminary years.
But the blessing that I wish to write about tonight has to do with a conversation I had earlier today with a Christian in Germany. Frequently, I am contacted by folks who are looking for chaplain positions or who are looking to start their own chaplaincy organizations. I am more than pleased to assist in any way I can – and the conversation today was the culmination of several emails during the last week inquiring about our ministry and how our model operates.
These interactions always provide me with the opportunity to re-live some of the important events that God has used to help shape my life. Even though I have been deeply involved in the corporate world, God used my position and expertise to awaken in me the desire to walk alongside others who needed spiritual guidance or someone who could listen to them.
The driving desire to enter seminary came as the result of a business acquaintance of mine who visited Dr. Kevorkian and ended her life in an assisted suicide – across the Indiana border in Michigan years ago. I had no idea that this was even on her mind (she worked at a client’s office) and it occurred to Janet and me that even if I had known that she was struggling, I didn’t believe that I had the tools to help her. That was a pivotal realization for us and drove both of us, Janet and me, to our knees in the hopes of understanding what God was asking of us.
And even though I thought I would end up with a church, clients that I had known in the business world kept calling me for help and it became clear that my area of ministry – my flock – was the American workplace. In the last 15 years, I have worked with employees who have experienced domestic violence, I have performed hundreds of weddings at local venues, have counseled people who have decided to divorce and have even negotiated divorce settlements several times.
I’ve also dealt with career transitions, coaching and promotion of employees, separations from employers, employee deaths and even pastoral care of executives who have lost their children, spouses or parents in accidents or due to illness. I’ve taught workplace Bible studies, prayed at executive retreats, engaged in spirited theological debate with non-believers and helped countless employees with family issues – including child problems, elder care, hospital visits, financial crises and just about every other concern imaginable that can happen to families.
Most of the time, these chaplaincy needs are just part of the ministry that I work in, but from time to time, I depend on my own support group to help me deal with the realities of some of the things that I see and experience. Please don’t misunderstand – I believe that we are each called to serve in a capacity where we are uniquely qualified to serve, but that doesn’t mean that things can’t get overwhelming. After all, we are only human and ministry is meant to be a team sport.
Whether you are in ministry or dealing with a job in the workplace, throughout the years I have seen too many people try to depend on their own competency rather than depend on others to share the burden and give Godly advice. And that brings us to the verse for tonight.
We are told in Proverbs 15:22, “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” (KJV) In other words, God wants us to work with one another and seek counsel from one another. And that has worked wonders for me throughout the years – I’m not immune from the need to reach out and ask others to listen or to speak into my life or into issues I am dealing with in my ministry.
My encouragement tonight is that we all need to lean on one another from time to time. And you don’t have to be a pastor or chaplain to be able to do the most important thing – to listen… My prayer is that we all will realize when our burdens get to heavy to carry alone and that during those times we will reach out to other Christians for wisdom and advice. There’s no way I would be able to continue my ministry if I didn’t believe this and practice this discipline with all my heart. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…