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Work Place Chaplaincy Scotland Blog

When life gets messy

Please read these stories of how people were directly helped by their workplace chaplain:

Oiling the cogs:

John is a well-liked and respected junior manager. Lately John has been short with staff and results from his sector are declining. Encouragement and challenges from line managers have no effect. One day over coffee John confides in the chaplain that his three-year-old daughter has a life-limiting illness. He finds it hard to focus and is unable to support his wife at hospital appointments. He does not want anyone to know, as he feels it will affect his promotion prospects. The chaplain listens and supports John in absolute confidence until he agrees to speak to his line manager and to access some of the support systems the company offer. John is given a short period of compassionate leave and is able to establish structures which allow him to return to work in a happier and more focused state. His work improves and, eventually, he is promoted in recognition of his potential which is once more evident.(names and details changed).The machine grinds on efficiently, unaware of the judicious application of a little oil.

The benefits of chaplaincy: “When you talk, we listen,’ proclaimed the poster giving contact details for Grant Maclaughlan, our Work Place Chaplain. Little did I realise that I would be the one who needed to call on the services of the Chaplain and how invaluable I would find the offer of someone to listen, in complete confidence, while I talked about the issues I was facing. Suddenly, and without warning, my world was turned upside down – my job was in jeopardy and I was potentially facing dismissal.

“Left feeling very bruised and vulnerable, I had no idea where to turn for support and it seemed there was no-one with whom I could share my concerns. During his next regular visit to my workplace, I blurted out my woes to the chaplain and quietly, kindly, he suggested I contact him directly.

“On several occasions, over coffee, the chaplain listened sensitively and attentively to what I had to say, without being judgmental or trying to ‘fix’ me. In retrospect, I realise that this was the first time that anyone had ever paid me the compliment of being there for me, really listening to me and hearing what I had to say. At a time when I felt seriously undervalued and powerless to do anything to improve the situation, it was a real blessing to me that the chaplain allowed me time to chat, with never the slightest hint that he was disinterested or distracted or had somewhere else he would rather be. Occasionally challenging, always compassionate and with a sense of humour – I am so grateful that he was willing to come alongside and journey with me when the going got particularly tough.

“The job situation was eventually resolved but the chaplain’s caring and concern didn’t stop there. When it became obvious that there were other pressing issues that needed to be dealt with, he suggested other avenues that might be explored, directing me to people with more specific knowledge and skills, who would be better equipped to provide support.

“After meeting the Chaplain for the first time, staff members have often commented how pleasantly surprised they are to find how approachable he is. Instead of someone who fits the stereotypical image of a minister who is out of touch with reality and the issues affecting everyday life, they find a regular, down-to-earth person who is comfortable chatting with anyone on any topic, from the latest football scores to the big issues of life. They find someone who sees the intrinsic value in each person and is available and accessible to them, especially when circumstances cause them to question their own worth. You don’t have to be ‘sorted’ or to have a faith because the chaplain takes you as he finds you and has no expectations of who or what you should be. What matters is the issues you’re facing and what you want to talk about. He’ll meet you where you’re at, not where you’d like to be.

“I don’t know the circumstances that prompted my employer to appoint a workplace chaplain, but he has been a godsend. When it seemed there was no place to turn, and no-one who would listen while I voiced my concerns, worries and fears, the workplace chaplain was there. For others, too, he provides a vital lifeline. When life, as it invariably does, gets messy and what’s needed is a sympathetic, non-judgmental, listening ear and a companion on the journey, the workplace chaplain is there – accepting, valuing, serving.

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