Monday, September 9, 2019
Ronnie looked stern and grumpy seated in his big manager’s chair staring at me over the rim of his reading glasses.
“So what’s this chaplaincy program all about?” He gruffed.
I was being weighed, judged and grilled by the company’s new manager, like an uninvited guest at his BBQ party. He sniffed the air and waited while I collected my thoughts.
“We provide face to face care for all the employees here. We want to help with all of life’s personal struggles by developing a positive relationship of support and impartial, confidential care. We walk with them through the ups and downs of life, especially when they get blindsided by a tsunami. We make sure they don’t get swept out to sea.”
I took a deep breath and waited to see if anything I’d said registered in his mind, or if I was still just messing up his back yard. To be fair, everyone seems to be surprised when they come across Corporate Chaplains Canada. Almost no one has heard about us, let alone met a chaplain who visits a company. Ronnie remained standoffish, sniffed again and flipped over my business card to the back side.
“What qualifications do you have to be a chaplain?”
Ouch, I was getting the 3rd degree here. But he had a point, what makes a chaplain better at helping employees than a well trained manager?
“Well we all have training to use coaching skills, relying on good listening and great questions to help people unlock solutions for themselves and find a way forward. It doesn’t matter what the issue is, a coach approach is the best way to proceed. We have other training in counselling skills, post traumatic debriefing, mental-health first aid and, finally, spiritual guidance, but we rely on coaching skills to get results."
He sat back and rocked his chair a bit. It looked like he was done asking questions and was ready to make his decision. Would I be tolerated or rejected? Was I welcomed at the picnic table or was I about to be show the gate?
Ronnie leaned forward to give his pronouncement.
“Well, I’ve had one rotten year.”
And starting with that, he listed all the stressors in his life over the last 12 months, from a death in his family, to moving and changing jobs, to his wife’s health. I listened, I empathized with his hardships and I asked questions about how he could manage the stress better. He reached some decisions and made a few healthy commitments to himself.
Everyone needs someone to talk to from time to time. In the space of 20 minutes I went from being the gatecrasher to the life of the party! Over the last month, Ronnie has regularly taken time to update me and discuss strategies to cope with stress and grief. He believes in the value of having a skilled chaplain in the workplace both for himself and the people he manages.*
Join the Story
Are you interested in partnering with Corporate Chaplains at your company or organization? For more information, or to have a conversation about Corporate Chaplains, check out the Corporate Chaplains website at https://outreach.ca/Ministries/Chaplains
*Confidentiality is vital for Chaplains and their relationships. So, this is a fictional story, written to provide a glimpse into what a coaching conversation with a Chaplain actually looks like.