Life as a Chaplain Candidate

I enlisted into the Army October 2013 as a SPC. While in Basic Training, I was told by the Army that I was unqualified to do the job that I initially chose and they offered to make me a nurse. I’m in the heat of Basic Training and I have 5 minutes to make a life changing decision. Never in a million years have I desired to be a nurse. They allowed me to call my wife, we talked about it for a couple minutes and I ultimately decided to take the job as a nurse, because it was something that could transfer to the civilian world. I completed nursing school and got assigned to a Combat Support Hospital. I had the privilege of having amazing leadership who allowed me to pursue my calling to become an Army Chaplain. I applied for the Chaplain Candidate program, got accepted, commissioned as a 2LT into the Army Reserve, and had to experience yet again the pressures of civilian life. As a civilian/reservist, there are things that I have to think about now that I didn’t have to think about as an active duty soldier. The Chaplain Candidate requires me to be enrolled in school full time and I drill monthly with my unit. As a Chaplain Candidate, you do get paid drill pay. I moved my family to Columbia, SC because I chose to attend Seminary at CIU (Columbia International University). I transferred my nursing license to the state of South Carolina and was able to get a job in a matter of days. Thanks Army! I think it’s interesting how God sovereignly set that situation up (in basic training) because He knew that I would one day need a gig to provide for my family as I work my way through seminary.

I would have attended CHBOLC (Chaplains Basic Officer Leadership Course) this summer but my wife is pregnant, she’s due any day now, and I did not want to be stuck in CHBOLC and miss the birth of my son. So I’ll be attending CHBOLC next summer. As a Chaplain Candidate, I have plenty of opportunities to connect with and minister to soldiers. I have done a few services, which have made for some interesting experiences and awesome testimonies. I am in a grind season of my life where I’m in seminary full-time, I work full time, and I’m active in ministry. My pastor tells me to stay ready because at any given time, he may call on me to speak. I love pastors like that because they stretch you, process you, vet you, and expose you. By expose, I mean if you aren’t ready and haven’t been cultivating that relationship with the Lord, it will show when you stand before God’s people. It took me a while to find a church home but I’m in a good place where my family and I can get the spiritual nourishment we need to be effective for the Kingdom. Alignment is everything.

The Chaplaincy is interesting because many people do not understand it. Some pastors actually think you’re leaving the ministry when you decide to go into the Chaplaincy when in reality, you’re going into the ministry. Some people think that you’re required to perform services of different faith groups. The devil is a lie. If that was the case, you would NOT catch me doing this. How in the world can someone be trusted if they can’t remain true to the tenets of their faith. I just want to expose the myth that a Chaplain is a Christian, muslim, and buddhists all at the same time. So no, you will NOT catch me serving two masters!

A Chaplain is a minister within the workplace. I have my personal theology on Chaplaincy and the point of this post is not to dive into the depths of it but I’ll share briefly some of my thoughts. I believe that Chaplains should not only be pastoral, but they should also be apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, and didactical. Much of the Chaplain’s work will be pastoral but there is a need for Chaplains to have a prophetic voice. In a climate that is filled with compromise, wickedness, a lack of demarcation between good and evil, and the pressures that Christians face as it relates to what we can and cannot do, what we should and should not say; we need to be that prophetic voice that contends for the faith and fight for our right to freely express and represent our God. We hear about religious freedom but some of the most intolerant people are non-Christians who try to dictate how the Christian should live out his faith. There is a war and it’s going to take a Spirit-filled Chaplain to navigate these waters and serve the people with a clear conscience, while manifesting the presence of the Living God. We have to be as wise as serpents, but as harmless as doves. This takes discernment in knowing what battles to choose. You have to use discernment in choosing which mountain you’re willing to die on. Every battle is not a battle worth fighting. As my mentor says, we must learn how to flow in the political as well as the prophetic.

I got off on a tangent but the point of this post was to give a little insight into my world and how the Lord is leading me. Keep me in your prayers as I perform the world’s greatest juggling act of being husband, father, seminarian, minister, author, etc. The good news is His grace is sufficient in each and everyone of our lives and His power is made perfect in our weakness.

These are all my personal thoughts. These are not the thoughts of the Army or my ecclesiastical endorser.

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