Minefields for the Chaplain, Part 7 (The Work of the Chaplain #83) with Daniel Whyte III

Welcome to the Ordained Chaplains podcast. My name is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society University, and this is “The Work of the Chaplain” Lesson 83. The simple purpose of this podcast is to help those who are interested in serving others through chaplaincy, pastoring, coaching, and counseling to learn the basics of this profession.

Our Work of the Chaplain Passage for this episode is Proverbs 4:23 which says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Our Work of the Chaplain quote for this episode is from Elizabeth Elliot. She said, “Where there is no “moral gravity” – that is, no force that draws us to the center – there is spiritual weightlessness. We float on feelings that will carry us where we never meant to go; we bubble with emotional experiences that we often take for spiritual ones; and we are puffed up with pride. Instead of seriousness, there is foolishness. Instead of gravity, flippancy. Sentimentality takes the place of theology. Our reference point will never serve to keep our feet on solid rock, for our reference point, until we answer God’s call, is merely ourselves. We cannot possibly tell which end is up. Paul calls them fools who ‘…measure themselves by themselves, to find in themselves their own standard of comparison!’”

In this podcast, we are going through the fine book: “The Work of the Chaplain” by Naomi K. Paget and Janet R. McCormack.

Our topic today is: Chapter 11 – “Minefields” for the Chaplain (Part 7)

Ethics

The chaplain functions at the invitation of an institution (e.g., NASCAR, the US Army, or South County Jail) and is governed by certain accepted professional standards. These are the ethical standards for which chaplains also establish boundaries. Within these institutions or similar organizations, chaplains and administrators have established professional standards for the ministry actions of chaplains. Setting appropriate boundaries means knowing what actions are acceptable and establishing personal limits in light of those standards. For example, some institutions may consider it an ethics violation if a chaplain dates an employee, or if a chaplain accepts expensive gifts from a patient, or if a chaplain provides legal advice for an inmate, or if a chaplain carries a sidearm. Chaplains must be willing to accept the ethical standards of the institution—or set their own boundaries and be willing to accept the consequences as administered by the institution.

When chaplains set boundaries, simple and direct language is most effective. Since boundaries are personal, there is no need to explain or defend one’s position. Fear of rejection and guilt sabotage the boundaries that a chaplain establishes. When boundaries are set with right intentions and respect for others, they set healthy limits to action, relationships, and self-care for the chaplain. Healthy boundaries allow the chaplain and client to set empowering standards for behavior and interpersonal relations.

A chaplain must always be guarded about boundary violations—his or her own and those of the client. The most violated boundaries are physical and emotional. On the chaplain’s part, standing too close to a person without that person’s permission is an infringement of his or her personal space. Touching people without permission—no matter how innocent—is unethical and inappropriate. People have the right to refuse handshakes, hugs, and hand-holding. Some cultures even forbid it. Eavesdropping on conversations, searching through or handling other people’s personal property without permission, and otherwise violating a person’s right to privacy are other ways physical boundaries are trespassed.

Perhaps the most painful boundary violations are those that affect people emotionally. While no chaplain would yell or scream at a client—which is abusive at its very core—breaking commitments, telling people they should or should not do something, or assuming a patronizing attitude could be equally abusive. A memory for names and details, cultural sensitivity, honesty, commitment, and extending grace are qualities that show respect for emotional boundaries.

Chaplain Misconduct

What causes misconduct among chaplains? Could it be the wrong attitude? Chaplains are not exempt from questionable behavior. They often struggle to find the black and white as they muddle through the gray. Chaplains who believe they are invulnerable are naive and unrealistic about their abilities and perhaps the motives of others. Chaplain misconduct is a betrayal of sacred trust.

Chaplains live in the tension of setting appropriate personal and professional boundaries while respecting the boundaries of others. With a clear understanding of their own faith, values, and beliefs, chaplains make the difficult decisions that exist in the gray areas of ministry. Chaplains each must consider safety, legality, morality, and ethics as they set and maintain boundaries.

If the Lord tarries His coming and we live, we will continue learning about the Work of the Chaplain in our next podcast.

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— PRAYER —

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Now, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, here’s how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

God bless.