Civilian ministers serve God and people, but in the military the chaplain also serves the commander, the Department of Defense, and the president of the United States. The chaplain could be expected to die for the troops, the cause, and especially to save the president. Rarely would a civilian be in this type of a position. Here are more disadvantages the military chaplain faces:
A. The commander has been trained in warfare, but has little understanding for using the chaplain to the greatest potential. This is complicated because the chaplain is on the commander’s staff. The commander could have little regard for the chaplain’s own training and experience even though a chaplain can be a great advantage for morale and troop interaction. Regulations require the commander to accommodate the military personnel’s spiritual needs. The chaplain can be left alone to discover that niche in the unit.
B. Past religious experiences (or lack thereof) can greatly influence the commander in a relationship with the chaplain. If the commander was not raised in a religious home or had a bad experience with a certain religious environment, there could be little compatibility with the chaplain’s office and little support offered.
C. It is unlikely any given chaplain will advance beyond the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Favoritism could play a great part for which staff officer could move up to a certain rank. If the commander has something against a chaplain, the commander can ruin the chaplain’s career by writing an unfavorable Officer Performance Evaluation. An emotionally insecure commander could become less than fair in the evaluation.
D. All the chaplains in the unit can get a bad reputation if one of them has questionable behavior. For instance, if a chaplain sees nothing wrong with drinking alcohol or being overly friendly with civilian females, troop members could doubt the spiritual depth of all chaplains. They might not respond to the chaplaincy ministry.
The chaplain has weighty expectations to carry before the unit. It is easy for the chaplain to make a ministry or military error with significant results. Because of the chaplain’s situation everyone should have a high regard for this soldier.
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