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Evaluating chaplains

The 1000 year flood happened one rain drop at a time. Science tell us that the largest raindrop is 4mm. The raindrop may actually form at .5mm, but the floods happen, because water will become as small as it can to microscopically penetrate even the tightest of seals. A flood happens because the water can be small.

When we evaluate chaplains for ministry, we look not first at their credentials, education, whether they are big enough to do this ministry. We ask if they are small enough to do this ministry. When St. Anthony the Abbot looked over the world and saw the snares of the enemy covering it, he asked God how he could ever penetrate through it. God gave him one word, “humility”. It is through humility that we can pass through the tape, walls of Church and state and school, and permeate the world with the Spirit of God.

As a public safety chaplain, we find ourselves behind the tape, in places of trust, in privileged settings, in powerful company, in possession of very confidential observations. You may wear a badge, get free coffee in uniform, and have people clean up their language on the elevator. Sometimes people place you on a pedestal or attribute saintly qualities to you, and offer you the seat of honor at the table. Don’t let any of this fool you for a minute. The moment I feel big enough to walk through the door, is the very moment I bang my head on the doorframe. As Jesus said, "always take the lowest seat". They will invite you up if God needs you there.

When we show up at the door of city hall with a duffel bag of the Ten Commandments in slate form and a “Free Prayers” banner, you can be sure security will not let you in. But if you come in humility, with the Living Water of God in .5mm droplets, or better yet, humidity, you can take it anywhere. We are called to be small enough to enter any space, and to trust that God is big enough to fill it.

This is why our ministry of presence is so effective. We can stand in a room in silence and see the Spirit of God become palpable. When we feel like we deserve to do more, we miss our call. It is not about what we need to feel productive or evangelistic. If we are humble, God will use us to flood the world with his Love. It will permeate like South Carolina humidity in August.

Long story short…God calls us to humility & humidity!


Rich Robinson

Training Director South Carolina Public Safety Chaplains Association

Senior Chaplain Coastal Crisis Ministries

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