From the Rev: Tackling Timidity
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
– Paul to Timothy (II Timothy 1:7)
One of the greatest challenges that I face in my role as chaplain (whether as a hospice chaplain or professional sports chaplain) has been overcoming a spirit of fear, of timidity when it comes to people. Perhaps you have heard the phrase “it’s nice to be wanted” but for the chaplain many times they are not necessarily wanted, or people do not necessarily know that they want or could benefit from a chaplain.
This is more challenging in the professional sports environment because people are not typically as broken – they have health, they earn a high wage, they are entertainers, performers. They do not need God (at least in some minds). They are wary of religion. They do not consider the spiritual. These attitudes can make it difficult to approach and difficult to serve because many times people can misinterpret the presence of a chaplain.
I recently was handing out water and sports drinks to athletes right before a major competition. For me, I saw it as a place to serve, a gap that could be filled; but for one player he saw it differently – “You love doing this (serving water).” The tone for me was difficult to interpret but I took it more in a denigrating way. Almost as if the player was minimizing my role to simply being an over-eager water boy that just wanted to be around pro athletes. I felt my face becoming flush. My spirit started to “turtle” and withdraw. I felt ashamed. I felt timid.
Eventually, anger stirred within me – “doesn’t (he) realize the sacrifice?” I became defensive within my mind and spirit. I want to go back to him and fire off a couple of different responses. I rehearsed how I might have responded having been ready for his remark. I eventually cooled and felt like I wanted to slink away for the rest of my time with the team. The Devil is crafty, friends. Later, that evening I had some significant conversations that had I remained in a spirit of timidity would not have happened.
I can honestly say that no matter the level of education or years of experience that a chaplain may or may not have, each of us faces the difficult and limiting spirit of timidity. But this spirit is not from the Lord – the Lord gives power, love, and self-discipline to us as we minister and serve.
As you consider a chaplain that you might know – no matter the context, no matter the team. Pray that they would tackle timidity. Pray that they would be deeply rooted in God’s Word. Pray that they would be encouraged and reminded that we do not live and minister in a spirit of timidity. But we are empowered by the Lord – to serve and live in power and love and self-discipline.
Rev. Brad Kenney