In so many ways it matters.
Where you observe Holy Week. Where you go home at night. Where you were raised. Where you work and live and play. Each of these places matter, and they give shape to who you are.
This week’s episode of Three Minute Ministry Mentor is about place and identity. The day we made this episode was cold and windy and miserable. Hints of spring, yet winter was still having its way. The place was outside in that weather and it shows on my face and body.
That was temporary, right? Weather changes. Seasons come and go. Yes, of course, this is the way it works. So place impacts us in both small immediate ways and, yet it also shapes us in larger more lasting ways.
The places we return to day upon day and year upon year give shape to our deeper sense of identity and give contours to the kind of people we become.
Listen to how Fr. Stephen, a military chaplain, and participant in the Learning Pastoral Imagination study, articulates this dynamic in his practice of ministry.
Many things can be said about how place impacts our identity in ministry.
- Social Location. Where we live and work gives shape to our social location (gender, class, and racial identities) because defined places like a military deployment in Afghanistan, a 200-year-old church in Boston, and a hospital in rural Tennessee maintain particular ways of understanding who people are and what they should do. Even if we have a very different personal understandings and values related to social location, the places we live and work impact perceptions and practices.
- Relationality. Place has an impact on the community(s) we can create and in which we can participate. Places shape our imagination and impact the immediacy of our relationships. And relationships themselves give such powerful shape to us as human beings.
- Knowing. We actually take cues from our environment about what we know, where we locate our knowing, how we act. For example, when I am in my car, I know how to drive, almost without thinking about it; and my surroundings give me many clues about how to respond and how to get where I am going. Outside that car, I am hard pressed to tell you all the steps and concerns that go into driving. Place shapes our knowledge, our skills for acting, and our understanding about of the world and ourselves.
So when thinking about your practice of ministry, take time to look around and ask yourself: how are the places I am from and the places where I serve impacting who I am and how I live my call?
What is on your mind about the practice of ministry? We would love to hear from you and receive your feedback here!
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