Often I hear that we need people more trained for the ministry like chaplains are trained in the LDS Church.

With that in mind, I thought I’d go over my experience with chaplains.

My first discussions of chaplains had to do with some we went to church with. The kind that, since he was an officer, had the enlisted personnel he interacted with stand at attention and answer “yes sir” or “no sir” while he counseled with them.

As a trained LDS chaplain he obviously didn’t need any more from those he counseled than “yes sir” and “no sir.” Why waste any more time on them? He was proud of his efficiency.

I really did not deal much more with people who had training for the ministry until I was in the hospital with my oldest child. I was assigned a chaplain with experience as a pastor who had a PhD in theology as a part of preparing to be a pastor.

Mostly I held space for him and listened as he vented about how unprepared his PhD had left him for the ministry, something he was hoping to remedy with chaplaincy training.

I saw him last when he was assigned to prepare me for a meeting with the doctors for them to tell us that our daughter Jessica was not expected to make it. His preparation “you’ve dealt with everything really well. I think I could learn a lot from watching how you cope with getting bad news. Would you mind letting me observe and learn from you as you are told your daughter is expected to die?”

Guess that is the way that everyone would want to have that news broken to them – and I really think he didn’t realize that he had broken the news to me with the way he asked the question.

Not surprisingly as she died on my arms later in the hospital he was no where to be found.

Later, when my daughter Robin was in the hospital I wandered down to the hospital chapel. The chaplain in charge of the chapel (and the person in charge of the hospital’s chaplaincy program) let me know that I was really in the way as they were preparing the space for something and that there were much more important things for her to do than talk to me.

Or even allow me to sit in the chapel.

I still don’t know what religious observances are around July 9th, but I got out of her way.

Robin died fairly soon afterwards so she was probably right that I was just in the way.

So, forgive me if my experience of people who have been trained for the ministry does not necessarily give me confidence in their superiority. Or if assertions of same do not bring out my unabashed support instead of memories, like the ones above.

On the other hand some pastoral training of bishops seems like it couldn’t hurt.

Surely there is useful training of chaplains going on somewhere.

What do you think?