It seems like it would be easy... and maybe it is, but if you have been around
the military or if you are seeking to come in as a Chaplain (or something else) you will
find out quickly that many Chaplains have no idea of how to actually "be a good Chaplain".
Now, in no way am I saying that I am a good Chaplain or that I have everything
figured out but, I have put some time into thinking how to be a good Chaplain and
this is the list that I came up with.....
1) YOU MUST BE PERSONABLE. Meaning, you must be as much of a "normal
guy" as possible. Once again, one would think that this is obvious but its not. In the
military you are the Chaplain to Sailors / Marines / Soldiers .... many of whom will not
come to your services and for the most part don't think of you as the religious leader
because they have no idea of what a religious leader does. But you still need to impact your people
in a positive way so that they will eventually look to you as someone who can impact their lives.
So don't be weird!!!! Be as personable as possible!!!!!
2) STAY IN YOUR LANE. Many Chaplains come into the military and assume it
is just like their job in the pastorate.....well its not. You are there to assist, aid, help, and uplift
the people in your command. They are not their because of you or to be a part of a church.
Now I will always promote the Gospel in my ministry and my aim is to see all my
Marines / Sailors come to know Christ but, I have to know the reality that I live in. Realize
that your lane is to assist, not to think that everything revolves around your ministry. When
Chaplains act like they and their ministries are the main thing, it turns everyone off to you
and your ministry.
3) MEET YOUR PEOPLE WHERE THEY ARE. Ok, what I mean by this is that you
can't approach all your people in the same way. I will give you a glimpse into my current
situation. Ok, when it comes to dealing with junior enlisted personnel, I am able to speak
to them as a senior leader and someone to give them wisdom and guidance. If I am dealing
with senior enlisted or junior to mid level officers I speak to them on a equal plain. My goal,
even in giving them guidance, is to befriend them and guide from a standpoint of example
and conversation. Finally, for senior leadership I tread lightly. I take my cues from them.
I have had some leadership that seeks me out as their pastor and therefore I can speak to
them as such. Other leadership that I have had can only take advice from me if I give it in
a specific way. As you are able to adjust to the people around you, you will become a
4) BE FLEXIBLE. You are the one person in the whole command who is not supposed
to be up-tight. Everyone else will be up-tight they will yell at each other, over react to
the slightest thing, and fail to realize that there is more than just his little job. You need
to be the guy that is able to relax and understand that things are going to go crazy
sometimes. When you are able to do this they will see you as someone who can be trusted
and someone who is safe.
5) BE THE EXAMPLE. Many of your people have never had any type of interaction
with a minister, they don't know what to do or think. You need to example for them
what true faith is.... you need to have the strength to tell them the truth even in difficult
situations. My greatest impact has been speaking the truth to people, even if they disagree
with me, but still loving them in the midst of our disagreement. Being able to be an example
only comes through your own personal relationship with Christ. So as you are healthy
in your own relationship with Christ you will be able to example it to others.