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25 Things for Public Safety Chaplains

In my time as a public safety chaplain I have learned a few things. Some pretty easy and some the hard way. With that here are 25 things that I have learned that will help you in your ministry. Space doesn't allow for me going into detail, so if you have a question, please feel free to write me.

1. Having a calling. You will find this ministry cannot be done under your own strength.

2. Have a vision of what you are to be doing.

3. Have good backing by your department and your faith group.

4. Have a good job description and SOP’s. You are a professional.

5. Know your chain of command. Try to work in it as much as possible.

6. Advocate for a budget for chaplaincy.

7. Never stop learning. Continue to go to training whenever you can. Train in:

  1. Chaplaincy

  2. Firefighting/Police/EMS operations

  3. Counseling/Psychology

  4. Spiritual Growth/Spiritual Direction

8. Have a heart of compassion (not just sympathy or empathy).

9. Take time to worship and stay in the Word.

10. Take time for reflection. See what God is doing. Take time off.

11. Have accountability partners (real ones, not just lip service).

12. Teach/Mentor others.

13. Know that the interruptions are the ministry.

14. Listening to God and listening to others is the most important skill of this job.

15. You may not have all the answers and that’s OK.

16. God will always be at the scene before you ever get there.

17. A chaplain that isn’t seen is a chaplain that isn’t used.

18. Know that First Responder ministry isn’t for everyone.

19. Know the law concerning chaplaincy.

20. Keep your integrity.

21. Be involved with state and national chaplaincy organizations.

22. Know that it takes time for first responders to trust you. Don’t worry, it will happen unless you give them reason not to trust you.

23. Make sure you have sabbath time where you step away from it all.

24. Pray for your first responders and community.

25. Get to know the faith leaders in your community.

Most of all have fun and know that you work with some pretty awesome people and this is one of the greatest ministries you can be a part of.

In Him,

Chaplain Chris M. Wade

President South Carolina Public Safety Chaplains Association


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