Ministry Tasks and Competencies for the Chaplain, Part 11

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Daniel Whyte III

Daniel Whyte III

Our Work of the Chaplain passage for this episode is Mark 10:45 which says, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Our Work of the Chaplain quote for this episode is from John Newton. He said, “You know the common expression, ‘A jack of all trades.’ I am sure a minister had need be such a one: a brave soldier, an alert watchman, a caring shepherd, a hardworking farmer, a skillful builder, a wise counselor, a competent physician and a loving nurse.”

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: Ministry Tasks and Competencies for the Chaplain (Part 11)

— Being Present

Chaplain ministry has often been called the “ministry of presence.” Presence is both physical and emotional. First, the chaplain makes a conscious choice to be physically present with the client. Second, the chaplain is emotionally present with the client through empathetic listening. Through presence the chaplain begins to build the relationship that eventually brings comfort to those who feel alone in their suffering or despair.

Some become frustrated with the ministry of presence. Goals don’t seem to get accomplished. Tasks don’t seem important. Doing seems secondary to being. Both the chaplain and the public may perceive that nothing is happening. But for the experienced spiritual care provider, the art of “hanging out” with patients, clients, victims, or team members becomes an intentional event that leads to providing a calm presence during times of stress or chaos. The law enforcement chaplain practices intentional presence—”loitering with intent,” to calm, to build relationships, to provide compassion. The healthcare chaplain practices patient presence (in both senses of the word!)— serenely listening to the same narrative of diagnosis, treatment, and recuperative concerns. The crisis intervention or disaster relief chaplain practices “non-anxious presence”—demonstrating no anxiety or panic about the bombing, about the flooding, about destruction left by fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, or tsunamis.

The ministry of presence often looks like standing around the water cooler, circulating among the people, sitting quietly with someone, or having a cup of coffee in the lunchroom. Presence may seem insignificant, but presence is the grace gift that chaplains bring to the human encounter. It is being available in spite of other commitments. It is being physically present even when the surroundings seem threatening. It is being emotionally present although the anger or fear is uncomfortable. Presence is the grace gift that accepts the client who seems unacceptable. The chaplain probably won’t be able to “fix” problems, but the chaplain’s presence is a reminder that spirituality is a part of the ordinary and extraordinary activities of life.

Sharing the moment of crisis through the ministry of presence may be the most powerful and appreciated act of ministry performed by the chaplain. The care-giving relationship is greatly strengthened when a person never finds him or herself alone because of the chaplain’s own presence—or because of the chaplain’s assurances that God is always there.

The presence of God in the person and ministry of the chaplain empowers the client to healing and wholeness. Chaplains are ordinary people with no supernatural power of their own. But in partnership with the presence of God, chaplains bring calm to chaos, victory over despair, comfort in loss, and sufficiency in need. Chaplains practice the presence of God through prayer, rites, rituals, listening, the spoken word, the Holy Scriptures, and acts of service. Clients often perceive the chaplain as the “God-person” in their midst. The very presence of the chaplain reminds the client that God is very present to them. Chaplains share God’s presence with clients even as they share their own presence and words of assurance—”I am with you.”

Standing in the dispatch room, the chaplain could see people were anxious about the manhunt that was going on. Dispatchers were carefully relaying messages to officers in the field, administration was standing by with legal and the executives, and officers in the building came to hear—live time—what was “going down.” The chaplain could do nothing to make the situation better, but everyone was grateful to hear the voice of calm in the chaos.

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 —

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.


Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.

He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.

He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.

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