Week Six of the CPE Journey: Destination Ministry

Week Six of the CPE Journey: Destination Ministry.

Week Six of the CPE Journey: Destination Ministry

For one to suggest that the CPE journey is not about the minister would be a major fallacy. The journey has much to do with introspection and adjustment. This adjustment, though, is not all about the chaplain. The adjustment certainly betters the chaplain but the adjustment is not solely for the chaplain but also for those to whom he ministers. And this is the point of chaplaincy; it is not to use the positional platform as a box from which to promote academic and ecclesiastical wares rather it is an opportunity to “extend the healing ministry of Christ” which is the mission of Huguley Hospital.

As I began to reflect on this past week as well as my experience at large in this program I realized that I was not just walking toward my destiny of ministry but that I am already engulfed with that thing I thought I was walking toward. Take for instance the case of a lady I had opportunity to minster to. Here was a wonderful person in the emergency room. This lady was steeped in domestic problems. Her boyfriend had all but told her to kill herself. Her self-esteem was already much lower than it needed to be. This is not to mention the fact that she was busy caring for others, including her adult children, but that there was no reciprocal action as to her care. As such she felt alone that nobody cared so that she was in the hospital as a cry for help. Her way out, at least in her mind, was suicide. Yet she knew that suicide was not the answer. So, here she came to a place seeking healing not for any physical ailment rather for a deeply wounded spirit.

And so as this patient “regurgitated” her heart onto me I sat, listened and engaged in what turned out to be an excellent visit. My gentle probing coupled with word of encouragement caused this patient to realize just how good she is. Now, I cannot say that my visit with this young lady eradicated thoughts and intentions of suicide yet I can say that at least for a short time she knew that somebody loved and cared for her. She also knew that I was not there to get something from her but rather to give something to her and that there was absolutely no need for reciprocation. So then it dawns on me that I no longer walking toward my destination. Instead I am already involved in that destiny of ministry.

Not all the ministry that is done has to do with those that find themselves in tough spiritual and emotional difficulties. I recall when I was on call a few weeks back and I was asked to visit a patient desiring to see a chaplain. After responding to the room the discouraged gentleman simply wanted to be read Scripture. I promptly went back to the office, collected my Bible and responded back to that kind gentleman. We talked for a while and then I began to read the Scripture. After reading the gentleman and I began to talk about what I just read. This form of ministry was similar to the lady mentioned above; he just wanted somebody to talk to and wanted to know that somebody genuinely cares.

In this I can say of a surety that I am no longer walking to my destiny rather destination ministry has already been accomplished. It is in this that I seek to encourage all. Sometimes we think that we are walking toward a certain thing but when we look we have already met the destination. Take for instance those of us that drive on highways – all too often when driving our minds go to other things. Sometimes we are involved in conversation or perhaps listening to the radio. As we engage in those things we pull closer to the destiny. And then we look up just to see that we are no long headed for our destinations; we are there.

I suspect this is part of the “pressing toward the mark” Paul discussed in Philippians 3:14. Paul worked earnestly to please God in that which he was called. And while he was pressing toward that mark it is interesting that Paul was already doing that which God wanted him to do. His destination of ministry had already been met yet he pressed even harder even while in the fullness of ministry.

So then those that do not see themselves as having met their destinies might do well to look and see where they are. It stands to reason that the pressing is so intent that the full realization of destination ministry may not be realized even while there may be an encamping of work around those seeking to do ministry. Now, as you press to further your destiny and it seems out of reach look up and you may not be close to your destiny but already in the midst of certain destination.

Week Five of the CPE Journey: The Matter of Uncertainty

Week Five of the CPE Journey: The Matter of Uncertainty.

Week Five of the CPE Journey: The Matter of Uncertainty

As I have been journeying through CPE I have learned that there is much to be learned not only in the academics of Clinical Pastoral Education but also the practical application thereof. Yes, I have learned much and there is much to be learned. Even there are times when questions are posed to me that the answer is not immediately obvious. It is for this reason that I struggled with writing for week five of the journey. I was simply uncertain about what to write about. The week entailed so much that expressing this part of the journey in about eight hundred words simply did not seem reasonable or even possible.

Let me explain. Part of my growth edge came from the discussion of pastoral resources as presented by Charles W. Taylor in The Skilled Pastor: Counseling as the Practice of Theology. Among the resources discussed with and by my peers was the matter of rites and or/rituals such as marriage, baptism, funerals and the like. While each of these is celebrated differently depending upon worldviews it is not incumbent upon me to know the specific practices each worldview. And this is the point I would like to stress; certain uncertainties are not only OK but that some ignorance is welcome depending on the circumstances.

Without going in detail last week I was asked a question by my CPE supervisor while we were behind closed doors with my peers. After less than a moment of contemplation my response was that I did not know. My supervisor politely responded that my lack of knowledge was not only honest but very welcoming. You see sometimes, especially those of us that minister professionally, think that we need to know everything. We often think that we not only need to know all answers but also have the ability to fix all problems. The reality is that neither of these can be accomplished. Further because neither of these can be accomplished we can trust in the Lord all the more.

The words “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” found in Proverbs 3:5 make it clear that our own understandings will often fail us. This is why the author broadly encourages his audience not to trust in their own understanding but rather that reliance and dependence on the Lord will bring about ultimate success. Perhaps this is why the matter of uncertainty becomes irrelevant to those trusting in the Lord. It is also a principle upon which Abram lived. You see he was completely uncertain about not only where he was to live but also his future. This, however, was not a hindrance rather a benefit.

Having said that of any reading this finds himself in a state of uncertainty concerning a certain matter perhaps it would be wise to lay aside the purported wisdom of man in lieu of leaning on and trusting the absolute wisdom of our Lord.

Week Four of the CPE Journey: About Goals

Week Four of the CPE Journey: About Goals.

Week Four of the CPE Journey: About Goals

In week two of the CPE journey I brought about some discussion about introspection. Introspect serves a number of purposes and among the chief purposes is that the one looking inward looks honestly with the potential as well as probability of making positive changes for the future. However changes cannot be made unless goals are set in the life of the one looking inward.

The fact as that all need to have goals in their lives. Without goals there is a lack of motivation to effect positive change. For instance, in my own life I had an educational goal of completing college. My goal was originally to complete a degree in business. Once that goal was met my goal was challenged as I began to seek out other things to do with my life. However to complete long-term goals my academic career had to be furthered. Introspection caused me to not only work toward my distant goals but also to work on more immediate goals. It is because of the accomplishments of certain educational goals coupled with considerable introspection that I am now walking closer to my destiny both professionally and personally.

In conjunction with my academic goals I also have ministry goals. Among those goals is to plant a church. While I will not go into the specifics in this essay I will say that the large goal of planting a church comes with multiple other goals that will have the ultimate end of the local body. Yet once that work is done there are many other things that are goal related that will require considerable introspection and subsequent work in order to accomplish what is ahead. The fact is that the academic goals have placed me in position to fulfill not only my professional goals but also my ministry goals. Further it cannot be said loud enough that the goals that I have met and strive for as these words are being keyed come with much work. Even so the result of the work of meeting goals is rewarding within itself.

While God’s call to Habakkuk to “write the vision” (Habakkuk 2:2) is often attributed to churches and para-church ministries the fact is that the principles of writing visions (goals) can and should apply to individuals as well. Goals are the impetus of life’s victories without which nothing can be accomplished. Even more it becomes quite evident that God has goals for His people. Consider for a moment Jeremiah 29:11 wherein God succinctly states that He knows “the thoughts that I think toward you…thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

The text in Jeremiah clearly shows that God has plans and goals for His people. Even more of God’s goals are seen throughout biblical text. With that said if God has plans and goals for His people then the Christian ought to follow suit and have plans and goals. It is certain that goals cause one to relieve himself from his “holy righteousness” in order to get done what God has in store. With that dare I say to one and to all to take time out to look within and set goals that serve only to get you moving?

Week Three of the CPE Journey: Two Sides of Ministry

Week Three of the CPE Journey: Two Sides of Ministry.

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