Rambling on Being in Charge

[author’s note: From our deployment to Iraq.]

October 3, 2010
For some “being in charge” is a goal, for others it is a prison sentence. I’m one of the later. Sure, you may have thought I was in charge of the Cathedral, but as any former Rector of our Church will tell you, the Rector is the last to know, the last to be consulted and the last to make a decision. Any priest at St. Mary’s that wants to be consulted, know the situation and make decisions will begin playing with dolls and imaginary friends within a year. Bishop Sullivan said many years ago that he looked for the day when someone would walk into the rectory, ask who’s in charge and no one would know. I can’t speak for the rest of the parishes of our diocese, but it’s been that way for years at St. Mary’s.

Naturally I thought in the Army I’d never have to worry about “being in charge.” After all, there is always someone who holds a higher rank. Unfortunately, those of us with not so much rank occasionally get put in charge. My chaplain boss has been gone the past few weeks and will be gone for probably another month doing battlefield visitation (I’m sorry, we can’t call it that anymore since the “battle” ended. All those mortars, rockets and IEDs [Improvised Explosive Devices] he runs into must be for show). In any event I’m his Deputy (from the Latin deputatis which means “brainless chicken”) so he put me in charge of the chaplains and their assistants in our unit and subordinate units, totaling about 30 people. It’s a sentence of hard labor for me.

Now any Cathedral Rector gets used to breaking in young priests. After all I’m the one that made sure Bert, Ernie (my dogs) and Fr. Vince were house broken. However dealing with chaplains and assistants from a variety backgrounds and faith groups is a challenge. At least with Fr. Phil, Fr. Vince and Fr. Sorenson I could trust that they knew which end of the chalice to pour the wine in (OK, there was that unfortunate incident with Fr. Sorenson, but he doesn’t like to think about it). A few of our chaplains would be lost without their chaplain assistants and I have nothing but good to say about these enlisted Soldiers. Most of our chaplains are great faith filled men and women, but the one “in charge” gets to deal with the less than great. More to follow on this next week.

So what do I want from being in charge, a medal? Whether you’re in charge or just following orders; whether you’re the boss or a worker; whether you’re the queen or a worker bee you are just doing your job. As Christians, our prayers, good works and generosity are a matter of course, not a matter of heroics. What we give and do for others may seem grand in our eyes, but is it in the eyes of the Lord who gave you everything?

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