Entry #9: Am I ENOUGH?
Updated: Aug 17
One of my ministerial life’s most fulfilling and enriching acts of service has been having the privilege to provide pastoral/spiritual care as a hospital chaplain. Yet, it has also been one of my most pastoral care areas that has challenged me to mature spiritually the most. When providing spiritual care for me theirs always an inner mind and heart battle of whether what I have provided, was ENOUGH! For me, one day I was challenged by the Director of Mission and Pastoral Care about examining my motivations for doing what I do during patient visits. Normally, the pastoral office orders and supplies me with everything that I need for an effective patient visit. Items ordered have included: various styles of denominational tracts, anointing oil & bibles, etc. But one day, I went to place an order and had an encounter with the Director of Mission & Pastoral Care. He said, “I don’t have any problem with ordering your supplies, but I just want you to examine what makes you use them, why you use them, and when do you use them.” He continued to state, “if you don’t carry anything in that room but the presence of God and yourself, that is ENOUGH!”
In an honest prayerful moment of personal self-examination and reflection, using those questions that he asked me that day, caused what would later give me greater understanding on how and why I serve the way I do. I was sadly surprised at some of the insightful revelation that was revealed. First, giving a patient a track during a visit could come from something that we had talked about or they asked me about, then I may leave a track with them. But other times I noticed when I depend on a track greatly, is when I’m nervous and I have nothing spiritually profound or meaningful to say in that moment. Or that a patient might frighten me with harsh words could cause me to pick a track to read to them other than having a meaningful conversation. What I realized was that when I’m unable to freely flow in a patient encounter, I will fill the visit space with, giving tracks, singing if a song is placed on my heart and mind, and/or a discussion of spiritually important acts such as communion. All of these are attempts at providing a comforting pastoral care experience.
Other areas of service where filling the room with acts of service also included for example, asking a patient whether they would like an anointing, prayer, and/or communion. Offering these elements can sometimes open up great opportunities for ministering, teaching, and/or praying for the patient during our visit. It also gave me an action to carry out during the visit instead of just being present. Am, I enough to allow the quiet spaces in the room, am I enough to provide a patient with human touch a non-verbal act of presence, or am I enough just to sit still and listen to the patient or loved one without any plan or agenda on my mind. Am I enough to hear their pain?
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful
in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened
with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and
longsuffering with joyfulness; (Colossians 1:10-11, KJV)
Yes, I’ve learned that I am ENOUGH, because the Lord called and equipped me with His grace for this type of service. It’s only through Him that I am enough to serve others. To be a carrier of His presence, I have had to learn to depend on the Lord’s leading and discernment to guide me during pastoral care more. I’ve been in continual clinical and scholarly training to prefect my gifting's and improve in the area of pastoral care. Once I honestly asked myself those questions asked of me, I started to become more aware of whether the task that I would normally perform would be even necessary during the visits sometimes. This self-assessment allowed me to develop more and be in touch with myself when providing spiritual care. I embraced not being so quick to fill the space during a patient with spiritual activities all the time. I started slowing down and listening more before using my spiritual props of service. During patients visits it isn’t so much about me, but it’s more about the patient’s care that is needed. And I want to always provide and serve the patient, their loved ones, and hospital staff with excellence by walking worthy of my calling in Christ Jesus. I am ENOUGH! What about you?
Here’s a sneak preview, “Clinicals R Us!” for Until next time.
For the sake of the Chaplain’s healing Call!
Chaplain Jacqueline M. Pressey, Ed.D.
"Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it. Autograph your
work with becoming extraordinary, through pursuing EXCELLENCE!"