As you may already know, I am serving in ministry as an Army Reserve Chaplain while leading my congregation full-time. As a Chaplain in the United States Army, I am required to undergo basic training so that I am prepared to minister to my soldiers as a soldier myself. I have heard people say that Chaplain school is "basic training lite" or that it's "basic training for gentlemen". Nothing could be further from the truth. While it is true that our training is not as intense as an enlisted soldier, the requirements are very much the same. Chaplains are required to meet the same physical, emotional, and psychological challenges with the same fortitude as an E-1 Private (or, warrior as they are now referred to).
The first segment of training that an Army Chaplain is required to go through is called Chaplain Initial Military Training (CIMT). It is during this segment that we are trained to think and act like soldiers. Keep in mind that several of us have not had prior service or experience in the military. This four-week course is designed to get us into shape and teach us the in's and out's of being a soldier and leading other soldiers as an officer.
I have just completed my first week of CIMT, and I am feeling it! This week included a lot of in-processing (paperwork for medical, legal, insurance, etc.) and several classes on various topics (How to fill out certain forms to get paid, differences between active and reserve components, and physical training standards). I can say that there have been some low points where I have felt overwhelmed and very much unprepared for the weeks ahead. I have also been learning that in the Army, a culture of accountability and responsibility are at the core of everything that is said and done. We have been assigned a Battle Buddy, someone we are accountable for and to. If you get to do push-ups, your Battle Buddy joins you (as I found out as my BB had his hands in his pockets). It's all good, because I'm sure that I'll experience some of this Army "joy" at several points. At the same time, I have experienced some great moments of real joy and affirmation as I stand side by side with my fellow Chaplain students and we recall our purpose for joining in the first place. These affirmations are strong as we all come from different faith backgrounds and experiences, and as we share these experiences, we recognize a common thread of love for people and God.
I have surprised myself this week, running faster than I thought possible and engaging in more exercises with less exhaustion. To be honest, this is an area that I have been nervous about as I know that I am not a strong runner and my upper body is in need of improved strength. However, there has been great encouragement as I have been pushed to my limit, and I know that in the weeks to come, my limit will be stretched even further.
I am thankful that God has led me to this ministry, and I look forward to serving in ministry to soldiers and their families. I really believe that there will be a breadth to the ministry that God as called me to, both in the local church and in my "extended" congregation in the military.
Thank you for your continued prayers of encouragement, strength, and protection for me, my family, and my church.
Until next time!
Pro Deo Et Patria - For God and Country!