By Kerryn Pocklington
Aside from the washing line full of camouflage, & the sometimes unexpected absences from home, I don’t think it’s really a lot different than being married to a Pastor.
We are a team. We’re in this together. Because being in Defence & being in ministry is a family commitment. It doesn’t have neatly defined edges, hours, expectations, so we need to be flexible. Helping people is often inconvenient. People don’t always need help between 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday. The Good Samaritan – crossed the road, paid for accommodation, helped him… It wasn’t in his plan for that day. But he saw a need & he went out of his way to do what he was able to do.
Ministry is unpredictable, busy, rewarding, challenging… because ministry is people, & people are these things. I read a great quote recently that said: If you’re helping someone & expecting something in return, you’re doing business, not kindness.
Ministry is all about kindness, in whatever way that looks. There is nothing wrong with business, but ministry has a very different motivation to business. The two should never be confused.
I don’t think that being ‘in ministry’ is defined by your employment. If your motive & goal is to help people & be the hands & feet of Jesus, then you’re ‘in ministry’.
Over the past 20 years, I have worked both in the church & out of the church, but I have always been in ministry. As a Christian, whatever our workplace, social group etc, we always need to be a good example & leading the way, because we are being watched by more people than we realise.
‘Go into all the world & preach the Gospel. When necessary, use words’. – St Francis of Assisi.
Before embarking on Army Chaplaincy, we pastored various churches together for about 11 years. I had various roles throughout that time, and now with my husband being a Chaplain, I find myself in a different role. I think a key to feeling positive about what you’re doing is being confident and secure in your call/role. I know without a doubt I am doing what I am called to do at this stage of my life. I don’t have a fancy title or anything like that, yet I know I am in the right place for where God wants me now. That has changed over the years & will continue to change. I’ve had the years of feeding the baby his breakfast during an Eldership meeting, keeping him occupied under my desk playing with blocks, and balancing him on my hip while worship leading, because he’s not at all concerned if I’m busy or on stage. Thankfully they are now 10 & 6, so at a much easier stage of life!
If I can keep our home life running smoothly, have clean uniforms & meals on the table, then that enables Michael to focus on his job & be productive & safe in what he is doing. There is always so much that goes on behind the scenes in this type of job, & I am more than happy to take care of that. At this stage of my life, my priority is our 2 sons, so anything else that I do, I make work around them & if that means saying no to some things, I have no guilt about that. When your husband goes to work & you don’t really know if he’ll be home for dinner or home for Christmas, you need to have one parent who is that constant when the bell rings at home time. It is important to keep life as normal as possible for our boys.
I’ve learnt not to feel guilty about prioritising our family, & not volunteering for everything. After years of saying yes to everything, I’ve learnt what is important, what is urgent, & what someone else can actually do. It’s wise to make space to be available for what you need to do. Being unnecessarily busy isn’t good. Being available is productive.
So what is Chaplaincy life like?
It’s having a deep sense of knowing, an unshakeable God confidence, that He has a bigger plan than what we can see. It’s not worrying about the late night phone calls from a person in distress, multiple visits to a hospital, waiting at an airport in the middle of the night to welcome home soldiers who may not have family to greet them. It’s knowing we’re privileged to be part of a bigger picture. Knowing that nothing is a surprise for God. He’s placed us here & now for a reason.
…yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this…’ – Esther 4:14 NKJV
About 7 years ago, I had a dream about a big house that we moved into & we had set aside one room as ‘God room’. It had a rough wooden cross at one end, a couch, some musical instruments, Bibles, notebooks, & a CD player. I drew the picture of what I had seen & then just packed it away & forgot about it. Just last year when Michael arrived at his deployment in the Middle East, one of the first photos he sent me was of his ‘Çhapel’ – a makeshift room in a shipping container. The moment I saw it, it was as if I was seeing the picture I had dreamed of come to life. It was exactly as I had seen 7 years earlier!
Amongst the obvious turmoil of being in a place like that, it provided peace. An absolute trust. An eternal focus. That God already knew about this years ago, that it was no mistake that Michael was in that place at that time. And we may never truly know this side of eternity, the impact that he made over there.
I’d like to finish by sharing a favourite Psalm that became so absolutely real to me in a new way, during Deployment. Amongst fellow Army wives, it is known as the ‘Deployment Psalm’. Particularly verse 11, ‘For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways’.
When you begin to see the very real outworking of this in such literal circumstances, you realise this is not for the feint hearted, not for the one who is clingy or needy, and not for the one who can’t put on a brave face & instil confidence into the little lives who are missing their dad. Yet in saying that, I wouldn’t change this for the world, because without a doubt, I know we are living in the centre of Gods will, and that’s the safest place to be.
Psalm 91 (NKJV)
Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God
91 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler[a]
And from the perilous pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
8 Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”