“I’m completely stuck,” I said.
“When you say ‘completely’,” Tim said, “What do you mean? That you sit in one place, permanently unmoving?”
“Obviously not literally stuck,” I said. “But I am finding it difficult to get to the work that I want to get to. I feel like I am spending hours worrying about picking the wrong thing and not doing anything.”
“When you say, ‘not doing anything’, do you mean that you are literally motionless?” Tim asked. “And if I were to ask the people you talk with and write to and visit, would they agree with you?”
“Obviously not literally motionless,” I said. “And I love talking with people and talking with people I love. But there is still a sense of not measuring up, of not getting to what matters.”
“Speaking of which,” Tim said, sliding a mug of coffee in front of me.
I thanked him.
“I think that you are feeling fearful,” he said. “You are doing things, but cautiously. You are thinking through the implications of every step you take, every word you write, every commitment you make.”
“What’s wrong with that,” I said.
“For the people we help, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Tim said. “But it’s not the motivation that God offered us. We have been offered the motivation of love and power and self-discipline. We’ve been offered the opportunity to move into helping with a sense of abandon.”
I started to speak, but he stopped me.
“You are concerned that I’m asking you to work with a sense of randomness, or to be loud and outgoing and something that you aren’t. But that’s not what I’m saying. You can be just as thoughtful, just think more about loving well than about messing up. Think more about serving well than about being misunderstood. Put the well-being of the souls of others ahead of the well-being of your reputation.”
The bell above the door rang.
“Pick one thing. Do it well,” Timothy said.
And turned to the next customer.
Sometimes people wonder what chaplains do. Here’s a picture from where I serve.