Why is Chaplaincy so important?
Chaplaincy is of such great value because most of the time ministry is directed towards an isolated community of people within an untraditional environment.
While those two elements make chaplaincy enriching for the community being served, they are also what makes chaplaincy difficult on the chaplain.
While isolation is what brought us together in the first place, it can leave the chaplain feeling disconnected and spiritually dry. How do we avoid this chaplaincy burn out that causes so many to give up on staying the course to see lasting change in their community?
A missionary friend of mine expressed similar concerns and answered with the simple phrase of “Great Commandment before Great Commission.”
The Great Commandment is the ‘Love Commandment’ we find in Mark 12:
“One of the teachers of the religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, ‘Of all the commandments, which the most important?’
Jesus replied, ‘The most important commandment is this: “Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you most love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.” The next was equally important, “Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”
The most important thing we can do as chaplains is to love the Lord with all our hearts. We are to fall in love and stay in love with God. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength – not just from a discipline of applying truth with our own logic and reason. From this love flows the love for our neighbor as we love ourselves. This love is the spring that fuels us to the Great Commission.
In Matthew 28:19 we read the Great Commission, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Yes, our goal is to follow the Great Commission but let’s first honor the Great Commandment.
Let’s engage in chaplaincy as lovers first.
Let’s serve our communities, not out of habit or personal identity, but out of an expression of this love for Him.