Calling You To Serve As A U.S. Army Chaplain?
by U.S. Army Leanne Thomas, 5th Medical Recruiting Battalion
February 29, 2020
As the chaplain for the 502d Force Support Group prepares to
retire, Army Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Cloyd L. Colby (left) felt prompted to
write a letter inviting prospective chaplain candidates to consider
With over 36 years of active military
service, Colby is in a unique position to extend this invitation.
“Dear prospective Army Chaplain,
Though we have not met,
I believe it isn’t mere coincidence that you are reading this
letter. In my faith, I honor your faith and commitment as a
spiritual leader. I certainly had some concerns as I considered
becoming an Army chaplain.
First and foremost, how would it
impact my family? What would it be like to be an officer with all
the responsibility that implies? And, as I had served in the
National Guard, would I be able to cut it in the “real” Army?
Finally, what would happen if I didn’t stay until retirement—what
would be my back-up plan?
Looking back with the advantage of
perspective, I see I need not have worried so much.
has benefitted greatly from engaging with military life and values.
They have been enriched by the diversity of experiences and peoples
and nations. While there is much expected of an officer, we are not
required to master everything in the first assignment. Like any
profession, chaplains grow from job to job. I have learned to value
what both the U.S. Army Reserve and the National Guard bring to the
table of our common defense. And I have learned to work with all
ranks, enlisted and officer to accomplish required missions.
Although I haven’t needed a “back-up” job, I gained training and
skills that transfer quite well to civilian ministry. Not everyone
desires to stay 20 years, and that’s just fine. Military ministry
can develop your scope, depth and capabilities.
concerns, I had my share of hopes. I had previously gone through
basic training and noticed how our chaplain got things done through
side-by-side leadership. By that I mean he was not a directive
authoritarian, but a mentor who was on our side, coaching us to
solve problems before they escalated, and inspiring us to be our
best selves amidst challenges. I noticed he had this same effect on
the drill sergeants and the commander, too. That intrigued me, and I
hoped to become that type of servant-leader.
Here are some
of the talents, gifts and skills I have developed and shared along
Side-by-side leadership... The ministry of
mentoring, keeping calm amid chaos, always engaging with my soldiers
and their families.
Adaptability... I have worked with and
supported a myriad of personalities, cultures and faiths. I have
developed a deeper appreciation for people whose faith is different
than mine but who have a reverence for what is eternally important
Music... I love to connect with people through
music, whether encouraging people to develop their talents, joining
in choirs, and even composing music for various events. This
connection via music has helped me quickly bond with other people
and gain their trust and acceptance. I am deeply satisfied when I
begin a training session by leading the singing of “God Bless
America,” a song, which is really a prayer.
leadership... I learned how to organize projects, develop staffs, and
create cohesive teams that serve thousands of people. I have learned
to apply these skills in my personal and family life which provides
incredible hope for tackling challenges in the civilian sector.
Ecumenical experience... I have grown professionally and
personally as I have served and led within various faith traditions.
Repeatedly, military ministry reminds me of how connected we are to
each other and to Deity. I treasure these experiences, for they
deepen my faith and help me realize my own connection to the
November 5, 2019
- Army Materiel Command Chaplain (Col.) Michael Klein, far right, hosts chaplains and religious affairs specialists from across the enterprise at the recent AMC Command Chaplain’s Annual Training. With him are, from left, the 2nd Recruiting Brigade’s Chaplain (Maj.) Kehmes Lands and Deputy Chaplain (Cpt.) Robert Cairns; and Army Contracting Command’s Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Scott Bullock. (U.S. Army
photo by Kari Hawkins)
Now, as my formal career as a chaplain winds down,
I invite you to consider military ministry as an Army chaplain. Like
me, you have concerns and hopes for the future of you and your loved
ones. And you have been blessed with gifts, talents and skills that
would be wondrously utilized and developed as a chaplain. May God
bless you in considering the call as an Army chaplain - not from the
perspective of fear, but from the deepest source of your faith.”
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