I remember early in the planning stages of the Learning Pastoral Imagination (LPI) Project that Chris Scharen and I had several thoughtful conversations about whether or not self-reflection was essential for a robust pastoral imagination. My training in pastoral theology, care, and counseling, had me pretty convinced that it was a crucial, it not universal, component of pastoral practice.
As I recall, Chris was not so certain. In the 10 intervening years, my thoughts about self-reflection and ministry have only solidified. In these years, I cannot recall an instance of wise pastoral practice or a person of whom I would say, now they really just exercised some profound pastoral imagination, that did not include the minister’s very credible ability to be self-reflective.
This week’s 3MMM story reaches further back into my training to one of my first seminary teaching opportunities. I brought my own pastoral sensibilities into a teachable moment with Jake. And I tried to help him turn his complaints into an opportunity for some self-reflection.
Now, I want to be clear, self reflection is not self indulgence. It is not self-preoccupation. Nor is it selfish. Self reflection, when you are trying to cultivate the practice of ministry, is a crucial element of shifting self-preoccupied worries (i.e. how am I doing?) into the background of one’s thinking. That shift is at once a greater self awareness and also a greater opportunity to pay attention carefully to the people and situations right in front of you.
Did you need to catch up on earlier episodes of 3MMM? You can watch them here: Episode 1 Ministry as a Practice, Episode 2: Seeing Holy Depths. And did you see the latest press release about the video series? Read it here!