Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography
In the late 1990s, my wife and I had a conversation while driving home from her parents’ house. It went like this:
“I feel like God is calling me into ministry,” I said.
“What do you mean?” my wife asked. “What kind of ministry?”
“I really don’t know,” I said.
“Well,” my wife said, “I don’t want to be married to a preacher.”
And I said, “Okay.”
So, I came home and I said, “Now, Lord, you know that we’re married, and so if You call me into something, You have to call her too. So now, I’m done with this until she changes her mind.”
About 15 years later, around 2005 or 2006, I started feeling that call again. This time it was more specific, in that I felt like I was being called to seminary. So, I said, “Okay, whatever this ministry thing is, it’s going to require a seminary degree.”
I had not completed my bachelor’s degree at that point. So, I told my wife what I thought, and she said, “Go finish your bachelor’s degree.” And, so I did, I graduated from Asbury University in 2009. Then I applied and was accepted into the Church of God Theological Seminary, which is now the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, one of the larger Pentecostal seminaries in the south.
I went for, I think, three semesters, then I started getting opportunities with my job. Because I had graduated, they kind of sat down and said, “Here’s what we see for you in your future.” I also, at the same time, was forced to make a decision about going to seminary full-time and having to actually commute on certain days because some of the classes I needed I could not take online.
This is 2009, 2010, 2011, so we’re not in the whole “virtual learning” thing at that point. So, I decided, without a whole lot of prayer or talking to anyone, that I was just going to forget about seminary and focus on my career.
So, I dropped out, thinking I’d go to seminary at some point later on.
The next semester, my boss asked me to get my MBA, paid for by my company. So, I said, “Okay.” I went to the school that they recommended I go to, which they were going to pay for. I took three or four classes before the school made the decision to shut that cohort down. It was the very first time in the history of the program that they had closed the cohort. My only option was to drive to Louisville for classes, over an hour from my house.
I said, “No, I’m not going to do that.”
They said, “Well, you can wait and join online, whenever the classes that you need come up.”
I said, “No, I’m not doing that.”
So, by late spring or early summer of 2015, I was miserable. I had a good job, paid good, good benefits — but I hated it. I hated going to work.
I remember distinctly — I can tell you the clothes that I was wearing as I was walking down the aisle at work, I said, “Lord, there’s got to be more to life than this. I want You to put me where You want me to be, doing what You want me to do because I want to be in the center of Your will.”
That was the prayer that I began to pray and, at the same time, I started job hunting.
I believe it was late August or early September of 2015, I got a job offer at another company. It came with a raise and more responsibilities. Basically, I’d be in charge of the daily operations of a distribution center. So, I prayed about it. I felt really good about it. And, I accepted the job.
It started out really good — best job, at that point, that I’d ever had. I was working for one of the best bosses I’d ever had.
They had a layoff right after I got there. I was called into the office and they said, “Don’t worry about it. This has nothing to do with you. You’re too new anyway.”
In April or May of 2016, the vice president called me into his office and said, “Look, we’ve got some things going on in the company, but I don’t want you to be worried about it.” They gave me a raise. They gave me a bonus. They gave me shares of stock in the company. They laid out a three-year plan of what they wanted me to do and assured me that I had found my forever employment. I was going to retire from there. Great! I thought.
We went on vacation, June 23 or June 24, to Glacier National Park in Montana. It turns out that my wife had a dream while we were on vacation, but I didn’t know anything about her dream. She wrote it down:
“It was the most vivid dream that I have ever experienced,” Adrena said. “In this dream, I lost my job. And, my boss had shared with me that I hadn’t really done anything. It was the finances of the company. I actually still have the dream in my phone. It was so real. I am in this dream. I physically felt the emotion. I cried. It really tore me up.
When I woke up from this dream, I was really just stiff. You know, you’ve probably experienced a nightmare at some point. When I woke up, it was almost like I was in that nightmare, just physically tense. And, I can remember opening up my eyes first, before anything else, and I kind of just looked around and my husband wasn’t in the bed. He was in the shower. And, I thought, “Well, I’ll tell him when he gets out of the shower.” Then, I’m like, “This dream is so different from any I’ve ever experienced. I’m going to get my phone and put it in my notes. So, I wrote my dream out, you know, everything in it. And then I still thought, I’ll tell him when he gets out of the shower. And I just laid my phone down. Then, I don’t know if I just forgot. I really don’t know, but I didn’t tell him. I didn’t tell him on the trip at all.”
So now we get back home and we are both getting ready for work. I had to be there at 5:30 a.m. When I got to work, I saw my boss’s vehicle in the parking lot and immediately I knew something was wrong. I didn’t think it had anything to do with me, but I knew there was something wrong because my boss doesn’t come to work at 5:30 a.m.
After I got in and got the coffee going, I saw the HR manager. I was like, “Oh, boy. I don’t know what has happened while I’ve been gone, but it’s not good.”
My boss said, “Hey Brian, can you step into the office for a minute.”
I was like, “Well, here we go. What have ‘they’ done?” I had a couple of problem employees, so my thought was “They have really done something bad.”
That’s when they broke the news to me. “While you were off, the company had a downsizing. This has nothing to do with your job performance. This doesn’t have anything to do with you personally. This has everything to do with the bottom line of the company.”
They had let several folks go in the distribution center, my former boss being one of them — a guy that was the best boss that I’d had up to that point. They let him go. That left a lot of inexperience running the distribution center, but that’s what the bean counters wanted. So that’s what they got.
So, I walked out. I said goodbye to a few folks. I got in the truck and came home.
Adrena’s still at home getting ready and preparing to leave for work, since it is still so early. She hears the garage door open and thinks, “Why is the garage door opening?” She yells, “Brian, is that you?”
“Yes,” I said.
She asks, “What are you doing home?”
“I just lost my job,” I said.
Well, as soon as I said, “I just lost my job,” Adrena immediately thought of her dream. She met me with her phone in hand. She pulled up the dream and handed me the phone. She said, “Oh, my goodness, I may go into work today and lose my job too.”
As I read the notes about Adrena’s dream, I looked at her and said, “That dream is not going to be for you. That dream was for me because this is almost verbatim what they told me.”
At that point, Adrena went to work and she didn’t lose her job. We went through a very challenging time. It was tough for both of us for me to be unemployed for a time. But she said that dream is what helped her empathize more, since she truly ‘felt inside’ some of what I went through losing my job.
I do believe the Lord gave her that dream and that’s what kept our marriage together — that dream.
I got a lead on a job not too long after that, and I thought, “It’s going to be okay.”
When I told Adrena I was one of the final three candidates, she said, “No. You’re not going to get that job because you haven’t learned your lesson.”
And, I was like, “Well, now, that’s not a very nice thing to say to me, especially with you yelling at me to get a job.”
I really was praying, and I felt God telling me: “You need to go to seminary.”
I was like, “Well, Lord, that’s all well and good, but now I don’t even have a job. And the bill collectors are still going to keep coming to see me.”
Adrena was right. I didn’t get the job. I couldn’t buy a job. I literally interviewed to be a meter reader and didn’t get the job. Here I am. I’m responsible for an entire distribution center and I can’t get a job as a meter reader. I kept suffering defeat after defeat after defeat, which was driving me to the point of depression. I even remember walking around outside in my barn saying, “Lord, I don’t want to live like this. I know I’m ready to go. So, you just go ahead and take me. I’ll go be with Jesus and she can get what little bit of life insurance and retirement I’ve got left and live happily ever after.
I just kept hearing ‘seminary.’ So, I told Adrena. And she said, “No. We’re not going into debt to go to seminary.”
So, I went back out to my special place to pray. I said, “Now, Lord, I’ve tried this, I don’t know, two or three times. And, you see the response that I get every time. I’m done. You fix my life the way it needs to be fixed or you fix my wife the way she needs to be fixed, or you fix both of us the way we need to be fixed, but somebody is wrong here, and I’m not sure who it is.”
A few days after that prayer, I remember, I was sitting beside my best friend at our home church and his phone rings. Brother Jay pulls out his phone and hands it to me because it’s my wife calling. So his assumption, without even answering the phone, was that she was trying to get a hold of me and knew that I was with him.
So, I answered his phone, “How did you get Jay’s phone?” Adrena asked.
I said, “Well, he’s sitting right here beside me. He handed it to me.”
And she said, “I’m not wanting to talk to you. I want to talk to Jay.”
I was like, “OK, it’s going to be one of those nights. So, I handed the phone back to Jay and I let it go. I never said anything. I didn’t ask about it. I came home. I got in bed. I went to sleep. And I got up the next morning and I was back at my little spot doing my Bible study and prayer and quiet time, and the phone rang. It was my wife.
I was like, “Oh boy, this early in the morning, really?”
And she said, “Go ahead and apply for seminary.”
I said, “Are you serious?”
She said, “Yes. I’ve talked to Brother Jay and I’ve talked to my cousin.”
When Adrena had told me we weren’t going into debt for me to go to seminary, I asked her to at least pray about it. She didn’t tell me she would or wouldn’t pray, but she did start praying about it. She prayed for weeks actually, and she also asked her cousin in Louisville to pray for us. All she told her cousin was that I had lost my job, so she was just praying for me to get a job.
That morning Adrena’s at work and her cousin texts to ask “How are you all doing?”
Adrena texts back, “Pretty good. No. Brian’s not found anything yet.” She sits the phone down and continues working.
Her cousin texts again, “If Brian is dealing with a calling on his life, he needs to accept it.”
When Adrena read that text message, she knew her cousin did not know that she’d been praying about seminary for Brian. So, she knew there was more to it.
I turned my phone upside down, where I couldn’t see it anymore and I went back to work as hard as I could, trying to get it off my mind for a little bit — knowing. And when I left work that evening, I was driving around New Circle Road. That’s when I called Brother Jay and Brian answered his phone.
I’m like, “What are you doing with Brother Jay and where are you?” Brian’s like, “I’m at church.” I’m like, “It’s a Monday night, what are y’all doing at church?” He’s like, “We had a fellowship meeting,” and I’m like, “What?”
And I said, “Well there are some things I need to talk more to a pastor type person about than you right now. So, I ended up talking to Brother Jay and his wife later that evening. I told them I really felt like Brian had this calling and needed to pursue it. I told them I am now willing to accept the fact that this is where we’re headed. I just felt like I needed somebody to talk to because he had been hearing it. He had asked me to pray. I didn’t really want to, but when I prayed that’s the same message I got too.
So that morning I told Brian, “I think you should go ahead and apply to seminary.”
I remember he asked, “Did this have anything to do with that phone call last night?”
I said, “It did.”
He’s like, “Oh, okay. Adrena, it’s like three weeks before school starts. There’s no way I’m going to get in seminary now.”
I called the seminary where I was a previous student, so it wasn’t like I was starting off from scratch, but in some ways it was, since I had been out for so long. They said, “Well, we’ll do what we can sir, but a lot has got to do with you. You’ve got to have three letters of reference written, sent in, received, reviewed and accepted by the seminary. And then we’ve got to make sure that there’s a spot for you in the classes you want to take.
And I said, “Okay.”
So, I contacted three pastor friends of mine. Told them the situation, and I left it at that. This was on Tuesday morning.
Three days later — Friday afternoon — I received a letter in the mail saying that I had been accepted, approved and enrolled, along with the start date of my classes. I barely had enough time to get my books. And, to top it all off, they cut my tuition for that semester in half and they did not make me pay it until the end of the semester, which is unheard of.
So, that started me back to seminary.
I was still looking for a job because I knew that unemployment was going to run out, and I got a phone call from a guy that used to work for me.
He said, “Hey, are you still looking for a job?”
I said, “Well, yeah.”
He said, “Why don’t you come be my boss?”
I said, “Huh?”
So, I interviewed, and when I walked onto the shop floor, I knew immediately that’s where I needed to be because the Lord spoke to me. I felt the prompting that said, “You are here for that individual.” This person was a long-time friend of mine, a former pastor, who had left the church and left the faith altogether because of some things in his personal life.
But the Lord said, “You’re here to witness to him.”
And I said, “Lord, I don’t want to do that. And, I left and came back home.”
It went about a month and my wife, being the nice, loving wife that she is, let me know one morning that “Any job is better than no job” and that I should seek employment. So I called that company back and said, “Okay, I’ll come.”
I worked there for a little over a year, while going to school at the same time. So, if I needed to go to Cleveland, I worked it out to where I could be off work and go to Cleveland and come back. They knew up front that I was in seminary. I made that perfectly clear. They said, “We’ll work with you.” And they did.
Well, then things started getting rough on me. I felt that it was time for me to leave that job. But how do you quit your job and not have any other job lined up? I knew that I had to have clinical pastoral education (CPE) to graduate from seminary, and I was approaching the graduation point.
So, I came home and I told my wife, and she said, “You’re not quitting your job.” And I said, “But I’ve got to get in to CPE. “You’re not quitting your job,” she said. So, this went on. It went on till all the CPE centers were closed. They had filled up. There were no spots left anywhere.
I felt led to contact a CPE center in Louisville, more than an hour from our home. All the ones around here were closed. I called the Louisville center and was told, “Well, you’ve really caught me at a good time because I had a full class, but I’ve got a guy that I’m pretty sure is going to drop out. And if he drops out and you want his spot, you can have it because we’re so close to starting that I don’t have time to recruit. So I’m just going to let you in if he drops out.
A week later he called me or I called him, and he said, “Do you still want the spot?” And I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “You’re in.”
I didn’t interview for it. I didn’t apply for it. I was just in. So, after I got there, they wanted my application, so I gave it to them. And, we’re over half way through the CPE unit, when they’re ask me for some more information that I never submitted to begin with. And, they said, “Well, the way you came in, it probably got lost somewhere anyway, so don’t worry about it. So, I never did have to fill out part of the stuff that you normally have to fill out. And again, never interviewed for it, just got accepted over the phone and went in.
So, I completed that unit of CPE. Part of that training had me serving 40 hours a week at a homeless shelter, which was a life-changing experience. It showed me a whole different world and changed my entire perspective on homelessness.
After I completed my CPE training, I came home and started looking for a job, again I couldn’t buy one. I went to these clothing stores who will hire anybody, except me. I went to Lifeway Christian Store, which was actively seeking employees. You would think that a guy who’s getting ready to have an MDiv would be a shoe-in, ‘nope,’ wouldn’t even talk to me.
So one morning my wife told me, “You go find a job and you go find a job today.”
I said, “Okay God, you heard my wife. I need a job and I need a job today.”
I walked into Rural King in Winchester, and I didn’t give them my full resume. I was frustrated. I was aggravated. I did a copy and paste. It was the worst looking resume I have ever done in my life, and I had it in my hand and I walked in, wearing just normal everyday outdoor clothes.
All the managers were standing around the little desk at Rural King. One of them said, “Can I help you?” And I said, “Well, I hope so. I’m looking for a job.” And he looked at me and said, “You look like you already work here, but I tell you what, I don’t usually do the hiring, let me get a hold of Shane.”
So, Shane comes over, and says, “Boy, this is a nice-looking resume.” And I thought he was being sarcastic, so I said, “Well sir, I have a professional resume.” He said, “You could have written it with crayon on cardboard and it would have been alright with me.” And he called another guy and said, “Hey, are you still looking for an inventory specialist?” And the guy said, “Yeah, I am.”
Shane asked me some questions, I passed an on-the-spot drug test and came home with a job that day. And before I left Rural King, I ended up being operations manager of the store, which meant that the next time a store opened I’d have first shot at becoming a store manager.
Once I got into seminary, although I’d given no thought to chaplaincy whatsoever, that’s where I felt God leading me, either counseling or chaplaincy. When I checked it was the same requirements, the only difference would be the word written on my diploma ‘counseling’ or ‘chaplaincy.’
So I stuck with chaplaincy, and I applied for a residency at the VA in Lexington. I also interviewed at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.
Once my wife had accepted that God was calling me into chaplaincy, she told me, “You’re going to be a chaplain at the VA. And, I said from the very beginning, “It’s not possible. I can’t do it. I don’t have any qualifications to be a chaplain at the VA. It can’t happen.” So chaplaincy at the VA was never really legitimately on my radar — ever.
I get a call from the VA and they said, “We’d like to offer you a paid residency for one year at the VA in Lexington.” Well, it shocked me so much that I choked up and began to cry. I don’t cry. I’m not a crier. And my CPE educator said, “I hear emotion in your voice. What’s that about?”
I told him, “I didn’t think I was going to get this.” Turns out I beat out 14 other people for that spot. I had no idea.
“It was divine intervention,” Adrena said.
A week before I was supposed to start, I got a call from the chief of chaplain services saying, “Hey, we’ve got a program that we would like to get you trained in called Warrior to Soulmate, it’s like a marriage counseling thing. But I can’t pay you to do it because you’re not officially on the books. But if you will come this week, I will give you equivalent time off that you can use anytime you want to use it.”
The chief of chaplain services in Cincinnati, Ohio, came to Lexington to train us. I complete the training. My official second week, but my unofficial third week at the hospital, I’m walking down the hallway from the Community Living Center (CLC) back to my office. I said, “Lord, I know where I’m at right now, but where am I going to be a year from now?”
And as clearly as anyone has ever spoken to me, the Lord said, “Don’t you worry about where you’re going to be a year from now. You learn what I need you to learn right now, and I’ll take care of next year.”
Well, I was up in this room shortly after that, it may have even been the next day, and the enormity of my responsibility hit me like a mac truck. “We’re not playing games here. I’m actually here to help these folk. I’m not a veteran. I’m not old. I’m not disabled. I thought, “How am I going to connect with these guys?”
“How?” I’ve got nothing in common with them. My anxiety broke out like you wouldn’t believe. I thought I was going to have a stroke or a heart attack right then and there. I was like, “God you’ve got to help me, cause I don’t know what to do. I’ve got seminary training, I’ve got church training. “I ain’t got no training for these folk.”
And the Lord spoke to me and directed my attention to the corner of that room. And in the corner in-between the bookcase and the wall, was a guitar. And the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “That is how you are going to connect. That guitar.”
I’d played the guitar and sang all my life. So I went back to the office and asked my mentor, “You guys have guitar groups or people that come in and sing and play?”
He said, “No, but we’ve been wanting someone who can play the guitar and sing because the veterans love that.”
I said, “Well, I might be able to help you there.”
He said, “Are you kiddin’ me?”
And that was it. My guitar and my singing and all of a sudden everybody in the Community Living Center (CLC), everybody in the hospital knows who I am. “I’m the chaplain who can sing and play.” I started getting requests to go to people’s rooms. It just opened up the entire hospital to me.
Well, after six months is over, this was right as the COVID pandemic was hitting, I got transferred from the CLC to the main hospital. It shares a campus with the University of Kentucky. So, they still left me with hospice and palliative care at the main hospital, but I was no longer doing the work in the CLC. So they give you a broad range of experiences to learn different skillsets.
I got to do some things as a resident with hospice and palliative care that other residents never got to experience.
The first six months at the VA, I was assigned to the CLC. And the reason that he did it is because the CLC is for hospice and palliative care. Now there is some rehabilitation and some respite, but it is mostly dementia, hospice and palliative care, which is a much slower, much different approach to work and lifestyle than I was ever used to. I was used to fast-paced, snap decisions, put it in place, let’s get it done. You got time to lean, you got time to clean. The whole business mantra.
And, I asked my mentor one day, “Did you assign me to the CLC to slow me down?”
And, he said, “Yes, I did. It was strategic. I wanted you here on this campus. I wanted you to learn this skillset, and I wanted you to slow down because I think you’re going to make a great chaplain.”
In my last three months at the VA, they assigned me to the intensive care units. While I was in the ICUs I was asked to bring my guitar and play and sing for veterans there.
I’ve had doctors tell me that my appearance in the room with my guitar was actually a turning point in the care of some of those individuals.
My last month at the VA, I’m starting to get a little concerned. I’m starting to try and figure out what am I going to do next? Well, the Army called me and said, “We’re looking for men like you.” I participated in the big speech they gave, the meeting they had. He said, “Get me your stuff. We can get you in. You’ll be fine. We will make a chaplain out of you. And if you still want to serve your full 20 years, you’re young enough that you can do it.” At the time I was only 44 years old.
My wife said, “No, absolutely not.”
“Okay God, so military’s not in it and the VA’s not in it, what am I going to do?”
She’s still saying VA, I’m saying ain’t no way. I went and talked to my boss and he said there’s no way. I don’t have spot first of all, but secondly you don’t have the qualifications.
What happened was there was this policy thing called “Hybrid Title 38” circulating up in Washington, but it didn’t get pushed through until after I was supposed to leave Lexington.
I got a job offer from Central Baptist in Lexington as a part-time and PRN chaplain. The lady called me in for the interview. She said, “I looked at your resume and I want to hire you because you’re going to be here when there is no other leadership here, and I’m going to trust you to take care of all the chaplain issues in the hospital when there’s no leadership here. I need someone I can trust.”
I said, “Okay, give me a couple days.”
The next day, the Lord had laid a gentleman on my heart that I knew from seminary. I knew he had gotten moved to Cincinnati. He was pastoring a church up there. He was originally from Georgia, but he was a bishop and overseer of Fiji and New Zealand. Because of COVID they kicked him out and he was back in the U.S.
So my seminary friend, Daniel, had to find something to do. He was assigned to a church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Overseers typically don’t serve as a pastor and an overseer. It doesn’t happen. He was a Marine with a master’s of divinity, a master’s in mental health counseling and a doctorate in ministry.
I told him, “Daniel, while you are waiting to get back into Fiji, why don’t you go do a residency at the VA and if you ever want to work for the VA, you’re a shoe-in. You have everything they want — everything, the only thing that you’re missing is a residency.”
The Lord laid on my heart to call the Cincinnati VA, where my CPE trainer worked. They called me back the next day and said, “This guy sounds really impressive, but what are you doing?”
“I’m getting ready to go to work at Central Baptist,” I said.
“Would you be interested in coming to Cincinnati and doing a second year of residency or a fellowship?
I said, “Well, I really hadn’t given that a whole lot of thought, but I’ll think about it.” That’s what I said, but I was actually thinking, “I don’t even have to pray about this. I just tell my wife. She’s going to say, ‘No.’ That’s it. We’re done.”
So, we’re on the way home from work and I said, “Oh, by the way, they called me from Cincinnati and they’re interested in Daniel, but they’re also interested in me. And my wife looked at me and shocked me. You could have knocked me over, at that point, with a feather.”
She said, “Well, I think you should go ahead and do it, and if they take you, we’ll figure it out.”
In my mind I was thinking, “Who are you and what have you done with my wife — cause this ain’t her. “
So, I said, “Lord, I know this is You, cause that ain’t my wife. So that had to be You speaking through her.”
I didn’t say anything, but the next day I called him back and said, “Well, Chaplain McKinney, I guess, if you’re interested, I’m interested. He said, “Well, I want to meet you in person, can you drive up?”
So, I said, “Well, how am I going to pull this off? So, I told my chief of chaplain services in Lexington and he said, “Yeah, go on up and meet with him and see what he says. Then when you get done, come on back to work.”
“Are you kiddin’ me?” You’re going to pay me to go interview … “Yes, sir.”
So I did.
When I got up there, I found out that the chief of chaplain services was no longer there. They had brought in a new guy, but he was temporary, and it seemed like they were getting ready to lose another chaplain.
So the only person that I met that day was Chaplain McKinney. I was thinking to myself, now this real great. There’s no stability. I don’t know what’s going to happen and it is 105 miles one way from my house to the VA.
And, I knew, by the way the interview up there went, that it was mine. And he told me, “Welcome aboard.”
So, I came home and I told my wife, I said, “I got it.” And she said, “Okay.”
So the third week that I was up there. They had what was called the Fisher House, where veterans and family of veterans can stay if they live more than 50 miles away and they need to be there overnight.
So, I asked my boss. I said, “Hey, how about I work four tens. I’ll work Sunday and Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. You let me stay overnight at the Fisher House and I’ll be on call. So I will be here at the hospital and if they need a chaplain I’m right here.”
He said, “Let me run it by the Fisher House.”
They said, “Okay.”
“I am the very first non-veteran employee that was allowed to stay at the Fisher House six months.” Up until that point they had never allowed it.
The second week that I’m at the VA up there. I tell them that I would really like to have some experience with mental health. I’ve done the CLC, I know it like the back of my hand. I know all the protocols. I know all the rules and regulations that COVID has brought. I know all of it. I’ve got experience with the ICUs, cause I’ve don’t that – but I’ve never worked with mental health.
So he said, CPE is a chance for you to learn a skillset. The second week that I was there that they were scheduled to hand out assignments, the chaplain that was assigned to the CLC retired.
The chief of chaplain services told my educator that I was going to the CLC because I already knew it. In fact, I’m going to give him the office that the staff chaplain had for the CLC. That will just be his office.
Now there’s three residents. I get an office. I get assigned to the CLC.
It was six or eight weeks after I got there, the director of the CLC sent a letter to my boss that said, “Hey, we feel like God has sent Brian to the CLC. We appreciate what he’s doing, and we look forward to working with him going forward.”
So my boss walks in and says, “Guess we have found your assignment while you are here.”
So about six months in, my boss has a meeting with us and says, “I have tried to post the CLC job three times. It has never posted. I’ve had HR try to post it. They can’t figure out why it’s not posting. We don’t know what’s going on, but I’m going to try again.
Well, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “Go tell him that you’d like to have the job.”
“Okay.” So, after the meeting was over, I went into his office and I said, “Hey chief, can I talk to you a minute.” He said, “Sure, come on in.”
I said, “I’d like to have the job.”
He said, “Are you serious?”
I said, “Yeah, I’m here and I’ve been doing it. I’ll take it.”
He said, “Well, I guess that’s why I couldn’t post it. Alright. You can have it.”
“That was literally it.” They gave me a start date before I ever applied for the job. I was already there.
Now that’s where this Title 38 comes in because Hybrid Title 38 says, you can hire a resident or fellow who has completed at least one year of residency without competition. So they didn’t have to post the job. They just hired me and that was it.
So that is how I went from being a manager in manufacturing, logistics and retail to becoming a full-time staff chaplain at the VA in Cincinnati, 105 miles from home.
I don’t think my story is finished yet, but there’s been a whole lot happen to put me where I am right now.
So, I can say without any reservations, shadow of doubts, without questioning: I am in God’s will, doing what God wants me to do, where God wants me to do it. Because I would have never in my wildest dreams or imagination or fantasy put myself as a staff chaplain in Cincinnati, Ohio — ever. It wasn’t even anything I was thinking about.
It’s been one “God moment” after another – a lot of ups and downs, a lot of questions, a lot of ‘What in the world is going on?’ ‘Why is this happening?’ Of course looking back, I see how each step built on the next step.
I grew up in this little country church and I don’t ever remember not playing the guitar, though I never had a lesson. I did not grow up in a musical family, but my 88-year-old grandmother remembers watching me pick up a guitar at church and start strumming it. I was probably three or four years old at the time. She said she watched me go from just strumming to changing chords when everybody else changed chords.
That was the night I learned to play the guitar.
They talk about having ‘perfect pitch,’ that’s when you can hear a note and know what key that note is in. And, I have had that for most of my life. I can hear a song on the radio and know what key that song is being sung in.
God’s ways are truly above our ways.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. — Jeremiah 29:11
A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. — Proverbs 16:9c