Peace of Christ to you! Of the many training exercises, classroom presentations, and briefs endured as a part of officer training and chaplain candidate training this summer, there were a few takeaways that were significant to me personally.
The focus of the officer training was leadership — leadership in stressful environments, leadership styles and effectiveness, leadership as a follower (that one is a doozy), leadership delegation, and so on and so forth. This constant emphasis on how to be an effective leader in a professional, rigid environment was something that I did not anticipate, and I was not comfortable with in the beginning. What I anticipated to be a simple, straightforward task of being a good chaplain candidate was directly challenged by the reality of what it means to be an officer in the United States Air Force. And it was from this challenge that I saw immense growth in my own capabilities to lead airmen in their mission, and just as importantly, know how to not lose them along the way.
For every lesson that I had emphasizing the essentials of good officership, there was a balance of what it means to be a good chaplain. The mentors and instructors that I had this summer brought immense insight and care into the service I might give to future airmen. The emphasis on spiritual care in a pluralistic environment gave me confidence and hope that bringing meaning and value into the lives of airmen is possible through our Catholic spirituality. I saw the need for chaplains in the Air Force throughout the summer, and it was a fulfilling experience to know that my time was not wasted.
I will spend many, many days unpacking everything that I felt, saw, heard, and experienced. I know that Christ has much to show me through everything, and I have yet to still unpack everything. It’s a worthwhile spiritual practice for everyone! Just because it is over does not mean the Lord does not want to show you something more upon reflecting and praying about the times we have already been through. You never know what Jesus will show you when you revisit the moments from the past.