Corporate Chaplain

chaplainThe concept of a corporate or workplace chaplain is a relatively new one, but one gaining in popularity.

The origins of the term chaplain are relevant…one who is a keeper of the holy, the sacred in an organizational setting.

Traditionally, that setting has been institutional – military, penal, hospital – where normal access to religious ministries is curtailed. To enable “free exercise” of religion, chaplains have been given access to members of the institution and have been part of the institutional team…insiders who are “in” but not fully “of” the setting.

While is would be natural to perceive chaplains as ministering to the troops (military), inmates (penal), or patients (hospital) – chaplains have a very important role in serving the leadership of the institution as well. These people also feel the stress of their workplace, the long hours, the separation from family. Caring for them, helping them find wholeness and balance in their lives, also serves those for whom they care.

A chaplain in the workplace can perform many of the traditional functions of a “ministry of presence” – a witness to workers and management that they are all more than the definition of their jobs or their function within the organization.

A corporate chaplain’s confidentiality may invite the addressing of needs or concerns that might not surface otherwise…particularly to the HR (Human Resources) office or representative.

Ethical issues, that character of corporate citizenship, community engagement, employee treatment options and coverages…such as for counseling services, leaves, and sabbatical…may be advocated and facilitated by a chaplain.

Very often the corporate chaplain provides an ear to senior leadership and the CEO that they find otherwise hard to find.

Where appropriate, a corporate chaplain may offer counseling and religious ministrations as the chaplain can authentically provide them. In cases where they cannot, they may facilitate finding such services for those in the institution.

In some cases, as with my work at the Dallas-based Utility Systems Solutions the chaplain may provide leadership training on a variety of subjects…from team building to communication to strategic planning. All these are predicated on the capacities of the chaplain and the needs of the organization.

My primary work with the organization is from a distance, including some marital work with employees, and during quarterly on-site visits – when I provide pastoral care for the staff of this rapidly expanding company and leadership programs for its senior staff.