Chaplaincy: Not for the Faint of Heart
By Dr. Lewis Temple, Healthcare for the Elderly, Palliative Care Chaplain, Denver, Colorado
Chaplaincy is not for the faint of heart. The sights, sounds, smells, and exposure to infectious diseases, not to mention possibly being exposed to bed bugs and lice, and even the occasional family dog, are all potentially included in a normal day. Such has been and is my experience as a Chaplain.
Finding myself heading towards burnout in hospital chaplaincy, I consulted with several chaplain colleagues who were supportive in providing insight and direction as to moving forward, bringing me to my current position and understanding as a chaplain.
Relocating to the Denver area several years ago, I was blessed to gain employment with a PACE
(Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) organization. Being a Palliative Care chaplain has proved to be very different from hospital chaplaincy as I began to provide spiritual care for a geriatric community.
Over these past few years, I have developed my unique skill set as I provide spiritual care. The following observations are my thoughts and practices that have sustained me as a chaplain.
I have come to understand that silence is still a virtue. Much of the time, sitting in silence is all that is needed and wanted. Other times, a listening ear is needed, providing assurance that someone cares and is hearing them with a non-judgmental ear. Providing this assurance, many often take an in-depth review of their lives and, unfortunately, seek reasons for condemnation, i.e., a broken relationship and other life events that often cause one to experience remorse. I frequently read from Romans 8:1, which says, “Therefore is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (NIV). I have found that this assurance is calming.
Additionally, many times, care is for the surviving family members coming to terms with the imminent death of a loved one. Questions arise, such as, ‘Will I see them again?’ or ‘How do I know he/she was saved? These are valid questions.
Again, I refer to the Scriptures. John 3:16 is one of the most quoted passages of Scripture and one of the most overlooked as it pertains to salvation; “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (NIV). Expressing the simplicity of the Gospel has given much-needed peace and assurance to those who are at death’s door and their families. Lastly, Chaplaincy is a passion. Chaplaincy, being a passion, does not eliminate challenges; it encourages challenges, and I use them as stepping-stones to improve my unique skill set.
Reverend Dr. Lewis H. Temple, III, DMin., MDiv., MAA
Pray for Chaplain Lewis Temple as he faithfully pursues his, palliative care chaplain ministry to the elderly along Colorado’s Front Range communities. Pray for him as he shepherds the aging, and sometimes neglected elderly sheep. Ask for the Spirit’s leading as he prepares for each unique encounter.
Follow the attached link to an article written by his wife, Dr. Michell Lewis, Assistant Professor of Counseling at Denver Seminary. Preparing for Redemptive Relationships | Denver Seminary. VCN Chaplaincy is pleased to count Lewis and his wife, Michell as part of the VCN Chaplaincy.
For more stories by and about Venture Churches’ chaplaincy opportunities, military and civilian, visit Chaplaincy – Venture Church Network (venturechurches.org) For information on endorsement, email Randy Brandt, Director, at email@example.com.