There’s something else people tell me when they find out I’m a hospice chaplain.
“It takes a special person to do that.”
I don’t know if they mean special as in unique, or special as in special education. Either way, I don’t think it’s true. It takes a special person to crack the human genome. It takes a special person to do a 90 minute space walk to repair the Hubble Telescope. It doesn’t take a special person to love someone in need. I do think those who are best equipped to do hospice work are Christians. When the Holy Spirit takes your heart, breaks it, and transforms it so that you no longer live for self, it’s easy to love those who are in such need. I’m not saying the work is easy–sometimes it is downright emotionally devastating. But, as the old hymn says, we’re to rescue the perishing and care for the dying.
The ancient Christians would go into cities infested by plague when everyone else was fleeing. They would care for the dying, even losing their own lives to the disease. They were simply being like Jesus. That’s all I’m trying to do–be Jesus to these people who are dying and to their families, both before and after their passing.
Turnover in our company is pretty steady. Hospice work can burn you out, and the main reason (in my opinion) is that hospice forces you to face your own mortality–that one day, it could be one of your family members; that one day, it will be you. As a follower of Jesus, I’m prepared to face my own mortality. It makes my job easier for those people of faith. It also breaks my heart for those who aren’t people of faith. But that’s what helps me do my job–I’m simply trying to be Jesus to those who’ll have me visit them.
How are you being Jesus to those in pain–whether it be physical, spiritual, emotional, or relational?