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Caring for others, and yourself, during hospital visitations.

The machine was breathing for him. His chest rose and fell with clockwork regularity as one son spoke: "So, chaplain, where is he now—spiritually I mean? He's still breathing; his heart's still beating. Maybe his spirit is still inside of him."

Even for experienced ministers, the hospital presents a unique challenge. The tough questions come faster and harder. We often feel insecure and out of our element. Nevertheless, there are a few fundamentals that can help you move past those moments of awkward anxiety and perceive opportunities for God to use you profoundly.

Be yourself

Leave behind any stereotypes you have about what a minister should look or sound like. These postures and agendas can become shells we retreat into when we feel unsure. Patients and staff will forgive you for being inexperienced or uncertain if they can see that you really care. But they see through posturing and pretension.

Avoid forcing the conversation in a certain direction. When you show genuine concern for ...

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