18 February 2014

Have you got what it takes?

Posted in School life

It takes a special sort of person to put on their ‘chappy’ shirt every morning, walk out their front door, and enter through the school gates with the purpose of encouraging and supporting children.

Just for laughs, we asked chaplains to write job advertisements for the role. Here’s what some of them came up with:

Chaplains – they are just like great coffee: Full of beans, extremely warm, never bland or too rich and loved by many. Apply today!

WANTED: People prepared to go above and beyond and to step on occasional toes, willing to have their heart broken. Rewards outweigh pay. Call now.

Jokes aside, every single chaplain I’ve met has been marked by something special.

First and foremost, chaplains need perseverance and commitment to gain qualifications before they even step into the school environment. Chaplains employed through SU QLD are required to hold a minimum Certificate IV in Youth Work or Pastoral Care, or an equivalent qualification. The minimum qualification must include CHCMH301C – Work effectively in Mental Health and CHCCS422B – Respond holistically to client issues and refer appropriately.

But beyond that, in each of their own unique ways, their lives scream out PASSION, NUTURER and CARER. It’s just who they are.

Right now, SU QLD is looking for 57 people to fill chaplaincy positions across Queensland. But before you race online to fill out an application, consider these words from former chaplain and current Ipswich District Coordinator, Sharman Irvine.

“I was sitting in a high-rise office in the middle of corporate Brisbane seven years ago; doing a job I could do backwards in my sleep. I knew there was a big wide world out there, with hurting people in it. I wanted to spend my life helping people know more of their self-worth, and gain value and acceptance in the right ways. As chaplains, we don’t want to be the paramedics that run around ‘at the bottom of the cliff’, picking up people who have fallen. We want to be at the top of the cliff, warning people about what’s ahead. We help people make the right choices, and if they have made a wrong choice, not to beat themselves up about it, but move on.

Being a chaplain in a particular school is about being the right ‘shape’ for the right ‘hole’. There are so many different factors that determine if a chaplain is good fit, but here are some key principles:

Chaplains need to be relational. That includes with the students, teachers and school staff, and the wider community. They need to be able to talk to anybody and everybody, but also listen.

Chaplains need to operate in their strengths, while matching the school’s need. We want round pegs in the round holes, and square pegs in the square holes.

Chaplains have to be flexible. It’s certainly not a boring, repetitive job. Chaplains and their committees always develop plans, but they may change. For instance, a school’s demographic might become 40% African over a few years, so chaplains need to change their focus; or there might be a huge influx of Prep-Year 2 students, and they need to adapt.

They need to be well-resourced. This includes the basics, like having enough juice for Breakfast Club, and also improving their skills through programs run by the school, SU QLD and local organisations. Chaplains need to be team players by working with the school’s existing support networks, but also create new community connections.

Chaplains need to be ‘whole’ themselves before they can create good relationships. They need to self-care, have times when they can switch off, and get professional supervision. For SU QLD’s chaplains, this means ensuring their relationship with God is healthy, which sustains them to serve others without reciprocation.”

Think you’ve got what it takes to be a chaplain? Go to https://www.suqld.org.au/morehands and apply. Current applications for Term 2 positions close the 21st of February, but there are several intakes and employment opportunities throughout the year. We’d love to welcome you into the SU QLD family.


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