Being a Pastor and Chaplain

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I have recently added workplace chaplaincy to my work.  This involves work with being available to employees of a waste disposal firm and a commercial construction firm.  In both cases I have to navigate the levels of the company from owner/CEO to new bottom level employees.

On the one hand, it is a change of pace for me.  People I had been dealing with in the community and church have a different vocabulary than drivers and carpenters.  I have heard a lot more of a certain word – you know the one – that I have heard in a long time.  This word – you know the one – is mostly relieved of its original meaning because it is used as a comma, an explanation point, a verb, an adjective and adverb and a pronoun.  Yet, despite that language, these are men (mostly) who have families and friends like everyone else.  So I choose to more or less ignore the language while trying not to leave any slow hanging curve balls over the plate of street talk.

On the other hand, it is amazing how I get to draw near to people.  One person needed to talk about his family where there had been a suicide and he was stepping into a support role.  Another person shared his spiritual journey and the name of his favorite author.  Several have shared about their home country.  And so I get to travel into very personal places. Some of these openings are short – a glimpse into a life that is soon closed over. Others remain open.

In one case I left a phone message with an employee who was terminated, only to hear a friendly voice from his spouse saying that this was the {_______} family and please leave a message.  A week ago they were a busy family with school and kids. Now there is unemployment.   What stress is that family under today?

I find some direction in this by thinking of Jesus walking into the lives of  people – some with long relationships as with Peter, James and John. Others are one time conversations, as with various people who came for a healing touch.  He sometimes listened and observed, he sometimes taught, he sometimes asked questions and at other times told a story.  He caved for bread as well as souls.

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