#127 – Integrity Idea 001: Hire a Chaplain

ESSENCE:  From time to time, we are devoting posts to describing specific actions a faithful leader can consider in leading faithfully through business a better way.  We are calling these Integrity Ideas.  

INTEGRITY IDEA: Hire a chaplain to be available for employees

COVERT-OVERT CONTINUUM (six Continuums for action):  Prayer

COVERT-OVERT RATING (several levels from Highly Covert to Highly Overt):  Overt

STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Employees

Although each Integrity Idea is “good”, we believe it is important to have the right WHY in implementing it and to think of it as a practical idea toward implementing a bigger WHY for the organization.  Without organizational heart change, sprinkling a few Integrity Ideas that look “faithful” (and allowing others to pat you on the back) is not leading faithfully through business a better way.

From time to time, we are devoting posts to describing specific actions a leader can consider during the Re-Align step of Integriosity®–actions that will begin to Re-Align the organization with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.  We are calling these “Integrity Ideas“.

Some Integrity Ideas will feel like a good fit, and others will not. The choice should be based on which approach is best for stewarding the organization toward its WHY.

INTEGRITY IDEA: Hire a Chaplain

We are starting out our Integrity Ideas with a straightforward one–hiring a corporate chaplain to be available to employees.

Your initial reaction may be “Straightforward?  Is it even legal?”   Absolutely (as long as speaking with the chaplain is voluntary, but that is the most important caveat to all overtly faithful offerings in the workplace).  Providing the services of a chaplain is about caring for employees.  The role of the chaplain should be pastoral care–not evangelical proselytizing (in fact, if you are considering a chaplain for the wrong reasons, you should start reconsidering).  In the words of John Maxwell:

Once a leader is genuinely interested in the well-being of those around him, the determination and drive of the people in that group are activated in a remarkable way.

We think the key phrase is “genuinely interested  in the well-being“.  Hiring a chaplain should not be about evangelizing, and it should not be about increasing “the drive and determination” of people so that they are more productive.  Remember, WHY matters!  Hopefully the organization hiring a chaplain has already re-examined its WHY and put profit in its proper place as a means rather than an end.  Increased productivity and employees exploring personal faith MAY be by-products of a chaplaincy program, but they shouldn’t be the ulterior motives.

Although many organizations have employee assistance programs (EAP) with counseling for employees going through life challenges, a corporate chaplain provides a very different resource:

• A chaplain is typically on-premises on a regular basis, whether daily or weekly.  This creates visibility, accessibility and a sense of familiarity, which leads to trust.

• A chaplain is typically “on-call” for life emergencies 24/7/365.  EAP programs generally require calling a service and booking an appointment with a counselor (possibly with delays of days or even weeks).

• A chaplain can be perceived as more independent from management and more likely to maintain confidentiality.

• There is often less “stigma” associated with visiting a chaplain than visiting a mental health professional.

The stories told by employers about how chaplains have served their employees are heartwarming and amazing.  With fewer and fewer people attending church, more and more people lack a regular pastor/priest in their life.  As a result, corporate chaplains are called on to perform many of the spiritual functions traditionally performed by someone’s pastor/priest, such as pre-marital counseling, weddings, hospital visits, funerals, last rites, praying for sick relatives, as well as providing spiritual counseling and discipleship.

Some large employers have had chaplaincy programs in place for years across their facilities.  For example Tyson Foods has over 100 chaplains, and Coca-Cola Consolidated reports that its chaplaincy program has seen hundreds of thousands of sessions with employees since its inception.

CINTINUUM: Prayer

If you have been following our posts, you will recall that the Integriosity model organizes “heart change” along six Covert-Overt Continuums.  There is nothing magic about these categories, but we believe they are helpful in thinking about practical execution of a Re-Imagined Purpose, Re-Imagined Values and a Re-Imagined Culture.  The Continuums are Prayer, Proclamation, Policies, Practices, Products, People.

Each Continuum represents an area in which leaders can begin to think about, plan and institute Re-Alignment changes to the heart of the organization.

Although a faithful action can touch several Continuums, we place hiring a chaplain along the Prayer Continuum.  (A leader might see it as being on the Proclamation Continuum–actions that actively proclaim a faith for the purpose of evangelizing–but we think that would be a misguided WHY that misses the core rational of chaplaincy–caring for people.)

COVERT-OVERT RATING: Overt

The Integriosity model breaks the Covert-Overt Continuums into six gradations–from Highly Covert to Highly Overt–that we believe are helpful in beginning to pray and think about what is most appropriate for an organization at a particular moment in time.

We assign hiring a chaplain a rating of Overt, meaning an overtly faith-based action known generally within the organization.

However, a chaplaincy program could also be conducted as a Very Overt action (an overtly faith-based action involving suppliers, vendors or customers) or Highly Overt action (“an overtly faith-based action involving community, website, sales/marketing materials), depending upon how openly and widely the organization publicizes its existence.

On the other hand, it could also be implemented as a Covert action (an overtly faith-based action known only to a select group within the organization).  Some employers choose to refer to their chaplains by less “overt” titles such as “Care Partner” or a member of the “Care Team”.

Matthew 10:16 cautions to be “wise as serpents”, and we believe the “wise” approach to leading faithfully through business a better way is a flexible approach.  No single place along a Continuum is the “right place”.  The “right place” will be unique for each organization and leader.  The “right place” for a particular organization and leader will come through prayer and is likely to evolve over time.

STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Employees

When we categorize faith-based actions, we also consider the stakeholders principally impacted by the action: Employees, Customers/Clients, Owners, Suppliers/Vendors, Community and Kingdom.  While hiring a chaplain indirectly impacts all stakeholders, the action is aimed at serving Employees.

Once a leader is genuinely interested in the well-being of those around him, the determination and drive of the people in that group are activated in a remarkable way. (John Maxwell)

IMPLEMENTATION

Although some Integrity Ideas may be difficult to implement, the good news is that hiring a chaplain can be easy.

There are two national organizations devoted to the selection, training and provision of corporate chaplains.  These two groups have been in operation for many years serving thousands of organizations.

• Corporate Chaplains of America.  www.chaplain.org

• Marketplace Chaplains.  www.mchapusa.com

A chaplaincy program can also be started in-house through use of a local pastor/priest, but we believe there are several benefits of using one of the established chaplaincy providers:

• Employees are more likely to be confident that the chaplain is independent of management and will maintain confidentiality.

• Both of the national providers provide training to ensure that their chaplains are prepared for multi-cultural business environments with employees of different faiths (and no faith), including the legal limitations applicable to faith-based programs in workplaces.

• National providers can be more cost-effective for a small organization because a single chaplain is able to service several organizations.

• The national organization provide service 24/7/365 and their chaplains have the benefit of extensive resources and support.

• For an organization with multiple locations, hiring a national organization allows a chaplaincy program to be easily instituted on a consistent basis across facilities.

Some Integrity Ideas will feel like a good fit, and others will not.  We believe it is important to think of Integrity Ideas as practical ideas toward implementing a bigger WHY for the organization and executing a Re-Imagined Purpose, Re-Imagined Values and a Re-Imagined Culture–NOT substitutes for doing the hard work of Re-Imagining with a Renewed understanding of God’s purpose for work and business!

In several posts we have identified hiring a corporate chaplain in the context of the Side Road of Cosmeticizing.  Hiring a chaplain without doing the hard work of changing the heart of the organization is not faithfully leading through business a better way.  It is sprinkling Godly “pixie dust” to look good and feel good, and a chaplaincy program is very popular “pixie dust” for obvious reasons–it is relatively easy to implement, it genuinely cares for employees and it is usually overtly “faithful”.

While a chaplaincy program without heart change is still wonderful, we believe the leaders are at risk of settling for the comfort of “good” and missing the “best” for themselves, the organization and its people.  To reuse a quote we have used in many posts, in his book Ekklesia, Ed Silvoso writes “The enemy of the “best” . . . .  is the “good”, because by being so satisfying, it deprives  us of the hunger for the “much more” that in this case God has in store.

We hope you won’t sprinkle a few Integrity Ideas that look “faithful” and call it a day–commit yourself to being a faithful leader leading faithfully through business a better way.

PERSONAL NOTE (from PM):   I have had the privilege of getting to know some of the leaders of Marketplace Chaplains and Corporate Chaplains–these are good people who really care about helping businesses “care”.  I have also had the privilege of talking to CEOs about the incredible impact a chaplaincy program has had on their employees and work culture.  Instituting a chaplaincy program is a meaningful way of  “caring”–fulfilling the second great commandment to love our neighbors.

I have also learned from my friend John Revell about how people who may be reluctant to see mental health professional will talk to a chaplain.  John started a ministry called Life Line Chaplaincy caring for first-responders.  In John’s experience, first-responders (particularly law enforcement officers) are hesitant to use mental health resources provided by their employer because it still carries the stigma of being “weak” and they are also concerned about confidentiality.   These same first-responders are willing to talk to a chaplain about their struggles, and John has seen lives turned around and even saved by chaplaincy availability.

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Photo Credit: Original photo by Juan Marin on Unsplash (photo cropped)