Work isn’t always easy. Sometimes it is frustrating, exhausting, stress-filled and unfulfilling. Other times, work is made more difficult because of tense workplace relationships or home burdens that employees bring into the workplace with them.
That’s where Paul Martin comes in. Paul is a workplace chaplain with Corporate Chaplains of America, and he goes into workplaces to bring gospel hope and life to workers. We had the privilege to talk with him about what he does and why it matters. Here’s our conversation:
What do you do as a corporate chaplain?
As a workplace chaplain with Corporate Chaplains of America, I get to care for people where they spend most of their time — the workplace. From the loading docks of freight line companies to the cubicles of communications offices, we minister to employees by building trusting relationships with them in their place of work.
The variety of ways we serve employees is as diverse as the situations they encounter each day. One constant is that we make rounds each week by visiting the employees at their company location. Our desire for rounds is to build trusting relationships. Our mission is “to build caring relationships, with the hope of gaining permission, to share the life changing good news of Jesus Christ in a non-threatening manner.” So our main goal in everything we do is to bring the beauty and power of the gospel to bear on those we serve. As we develop genuine, caring relationships, we desire to introduce Jesus to those who don’t know Him and remind those who do of His life, death and resurrection, and its relation to all of life.
In addition to rounds, we are available 24/7/365 to each employee and their family members in case a tragedy or crisis occurs. We also care for employees in a myriad of different ways, from praying for them in the waiting room of the hospital, to being present for an employee in court, to meeting them in a coffee shop to discuss marriage conflict. We are there to simply be a faithful friend and confidant.
What biblical passages or principles guide you in your work as a corporate chaplain?
One passage that guides me is 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, where the Apostle Paul says,
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
As a person in Christ, God has given to me the ministry and message of reconciliation. Therefore, I am an ambassador for Christ, imploring those I serve to be reconciled to God. Jesus became sin for our sake so that we might become the righteousness of God. In everything I do, I am first and foremost an ambassador for Christ, calling people to faith in Jesus and what He has accomplished for them to be reconciled to Him.
Two principles that relate to our unique role as corporate chaplains in the workplace are permission and confidentiality. In the workplace, we minister the gospel with the permission of the individuals receiving it. We are not pushy and never argumentative. We also never want to impede an employee’s work as we seek to connect with them in their work environment. Second, we respect the confidentiality of the persons to whom we minister. When an employee or their family member confides in us, we will not breach confidentiality unless the law requires it. These two principles foster an environment of trust and security.
What are some of the biggest struggles people face in the workplace? How does the gospel help them?
We live in a broken world and crisis can hit anyone no matter what title, degree or position they may have. Struggles like cancer, addiction, divorce and many other issues can often come without warning. In these dark times, people are searching for hope and comfort. As a chaplain, I have the privilege to love people and point them to Christ, who offers hope that’s bigger than their circumstances.
Many of the struggles that people face in the workplace are rooted in false identities. As fallen creatures made in God’s image, we are tempted to find our identity in anything other than God. The assortment of potential false identities grows with each and every day. Work, career, achievement and money all seem like reliable places for identity because they are good gifts from God. However, in the gospel, Jesus holds out an identity much more attractive and durable than anything that could ever be produced in the workplace. He holds out the new identity of sons and daughters of the Most High God. As men and women in the workplace turn in faith and find their identity in Christ, struggles don’t completely disappear, but are put in the context of One infinitely greater.
Some people have a hard time understanding that their work matters to God. What would you tell them?
We all have experienced times when it doesn’t feel like our work matters to God. How can something so seemingly mundane and inconsequential be important to God? We can naturally start to divide all of life into two parts: the things God cares about (church, prayer, religious activities) and the things He doesn’t care about (things we perceive as not religious). We may not be brave enough to say it out loud but we struggle with these ideas. We have a hard time understanding that our work matters to God because we perceive it as one of the things that He doesn’t care about.
The truth is that our daily work is profoundly important to God. It is one of the chief ways that we can bring glory to Him each day. As 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Work obviously falls under the “whatever you do” and should be a means of bringing glory to God. It is such a liberating truth to know that plumbers, managers, professors, moms changing diapers, pastors, factory workers, chaplains, company owners and office workers can all bring glory to God in their work. Since all forms of work hold the potential to glorify God, our work matters to Him, and we should strive for excellence in all we do.
If an employer wants a chaplain for their business, what steps should they take?
Business owners know what it’s like to carry the pressures of the business and try to care for employees. Thirty-three percent of an executive’s time is spent responding to crisis. We would love to discuss how we can partner together with your company to help bring hope into the workplace. You can contact us at (919) 570-0700 or visit our website at www.chaplain.org. We serve a diverse group of companies and have members of our team who are eager to answer any questions you may have.