A story years in the making....
Looking a little like Jesus strolling down the path calling out to Zacchaeus, the Chaplain shouted up to Big Ron on his forklift. “Hey there Ron, how’re things?”
Ron’s voice boomed out over the background noise of the cold storage worksite. “This job just keeps getting worse, so nothing’s changed!”*
He said the bitter words with such panache that the chaplain had to laugh. “Alright buddy, let me know when you want to figure out how to make it better!”
Big Ron is the meanest looking guy on a crew of men who wouldn’t look out of place in a police lineup. The chaplain was trying to build a relationship with him, but Ron had no intention of making it easy. The chaplain found it to be a fun challenge, knowing that it was only a matter of time before Big Ron invited him in.
* Big Ron’s dialogue has been modified from the original. The colourful use of four letter words has been removed.
Big Ron’s little buddy, Mikey from the night shift, was unconcious in the hospital. The chaplain sat in the room at Royal Columbian with Mikey, praying that he would recover from his severe injuries. Mikey had been driving drunk and crashed into a tree at full speed. His facial fractures were serious, but the extent of the brain damage was unknown. Mikey’s mom was flying in, but he had no one else locally.
As the chaplain prayed a few psalms and hummed a hymn or two, Big Ron stomped into the room with big black boots and a thunderous mood. “I knew this would happen. This stupid idiot. Now look what he’s done.” Mikey dreamed on with tubes in his mouth and bandages wrapping his head and face.
“So glad you’re here, Ron. You know Mikey pretty well; what do you think I should be praying for him?” asked the chaplain.
“I dunno, pray that he’s not a vegetable and can come back to work soon.” He turned on his heal and stomped out.
“You got it Ron.” The chaplain called out to the receding mountain wreathed in storm.
It was Mikey’s first day back at work. He was given light duties and only a few hours, but it was a start. The chaplain found Big Ron on a smoke break out back.
“So Ron, Mikey’s back, just like we asked for. Is it time to thank God?”
“Huh, yeah, its probably time, eh?” Ron put out his dart with his heel and looked up at the sky. “Hey God, thanks for letting that idiot Mikey live even though he didn’t deserve it.”
“Nicely done Ron.” The chaplain slapped Ron’s shoulder- it felt like punching a heavy bag in the gym - Ron just kept looking up at the sky.
“Hey chaplain, I’ve got a few more things I want to be thankful for.”
“Oh yeah Ron, what’s that?”
Ron just looked up and started praying “I’ve got a great wife, she’s better than I deserve. Our place is ok and even has room for that screw up Mikey who’s renting from us. Also, I’m glad I have a job and that I’m good at it.”
“I like it Ron, I know God is hearing you.”
Ron jumped down off his forklift when he saw the chaplain. “I got the promotion! I’m going to be the new shift supervisor. The raise is really going to help with the baby coming, and I can pick my own crew to work with. That way I can keep an eye on Mikey and make sure he doesn’t get into any trouble.”
“Congratulations Ron, so many good things have been happening for you and your family.”
“Well, involving God in my life has made a difference. My wife sees that I’m happier and I feel it too. I talk to God all the time now and that helps me not get discouraged and angry. I like how this feels, being, you know, positive about stuff instead of grumpy all the time. It just took a little thankfulness to get me out from under the clouds. I’m thinking of getting a new tattoo of a cross or something on my hand here, just to remind me to be grateful.”
The chaplain starred, mouth open, at Ron. He’d never heard the man say more than one sentence at time in all the years he’d known him. Big Ron was smiling at him and the whole world. The chaplain let Ron’s gratitude wash over him until he too was thanking God for His goodness.
*Confidentiality is vital for Chaplains and their relationships. So, this is a fictional story, written to provide a glimpse into what a coaching relationship might actually look like with a Chaplain. You can find out more about Corporate Chaplains at https://outreach.ca/Ministries/Chaplains
Chris Morris is the National Director for Corporate Chaplains. Chris graduated from SFU with a BA in English Literature and he has a Masters in Applied Theology from Regent College. While at Regent, he first heard of workplace chaplaincy and became intrigued at showing Christ’s love for people in the middle of their own life stories at work.