Reflections Of A Retiring Chaplain -- By: Douglas L. Carver

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 09:1 (Spring 2012)
Article: Reflections Of A Retiring Chaplain
Author: Douglas L. Carver

Reflections Of A Retiring Chaplain

Douglas L. Carver

Douglas L. Carver (Major General, Retired) served as the Twenty-Second Chief of Chaplains of the United States Army.

Soldiering is an honorable profession, and I am privileged to have served every day for the past twenty-nine years as an active duty chaplain in the United States Army. During that period of time I had the opportunity to serve the religious needs of our soldiers, Department of Defense civilians, and their families, in both peace and war and at every level of military leadership— from individual Army units to the Department of Army staff—each with very different roles and characteristics. To say that I learned a lot about ministering in “Caesar’s house” would be an understatement.

This is currently a season of prayerful reflection for me and my family. We grieve the loss of our identity, sense of purpose, and community support received from our years of ministry to our Army family. Personally, I struggle with words like career transition, terminal leave, and retirement. Instead of being asked to address the current spiritual climate and morale of a war-weary Army, I offer these reflections on lessons learned, spiritual battles fought, and wisdom gleaned while ministering within the institution. I feel somewhat like John Piper, pastor for more than thirty years of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota who, after turning sixty, began to look back over his calling into the ministry. In his book, Rethinking Retirement: Finishing Life for the Glory of Christ, he prays:

O God, don’t let me waste my final years! Don’t let me buy the American dream of retirement— month after month of leisure and play and hobbies and putzing around in the garage and rearranging the furniture and golfing and fishing and sitting and watching television. Lord, please have mercy on me. Spare me this curse.1

As Piper reflected on his initial calling as a young man into the ministry, he asked the Lord God to renew the passion of that call to serve for the glory of God and to make God’s glory known to the next generation. He then claimed a promise from Ps 71:18, “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come” (ESV). May we, like Moses, maintain the passion and perseverance to proclaim the

gospel of Jesus Christ to all those who come before us, and to that next generation after us.

Ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ within an institutional setting comes at a great co...

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