Stuff I’m Writing (2 of 3)

Photo Thanks to Peter Belch

Photo Thanks to Peter Belch

When I started the supervisory education program in CPE, I noticed that there were hardly any meaningful trails about the process on the internet. I decided to write through my process. So I have some “public process notes” on the blog in order to keep track of some of my experiences.

Related to that, I’ve been working on materials for a committee appearance in early April. While I won’t go into much about the appearance on this side of the meeting, I want to put up a few thoughts from the three papers I prepared for submission to the committee.

This slice comes from the section on my CPE pilgrimage. Using my experiences in CPE, this particular paper is a reflection on my learning issues, my process of professional development and growth, my evolution and personal integration, learning experiences, and self-understanding. My section here is essentially my professional development portion.

I see chaplaincy and supervision as expressions of pastoral ministry. When I serve in the church, that community is the context for my pastoral ministry. For supervisory work, the context is CPE. The work is still pastoral. To track my development in ministry, I draw upon a tool I’ve used in teaching. I’ve worked with students on developing rules of life as a vehicle for exploring and containing practices for development. When I think of my own process of development, I think about the rule which I include as a process of my development.

Included in the process is my intellectual, physical, spiritual, and emotional development; there is room for each. The elements relate to my growth, even if each is not happening while I’m in the professional setting. For example, if I’m not taking care of my body, which my work setting may assume I am, I’ll be no good for the work of spiritual care of patients or families.

I use my birthday as a time to reflect upon my work and life and how I can continually develop. I acknowledge and celebrate how I’ve developed and I spend time thinking through how to continue doing so. As I’ve gone along, other moments have emerged to augment what consideration I have during my birthday. These include an annual assessment from my denomination (March); the beginning of a semester for the classes I teach (late August); the ending of the classes (May); the start and end of CPE units will fall into this developmental plan. At a micro level “processing our process” is something that I’ve drawn from my training supervisor, and that is a constructive way for me to regularly attend to the work I’m doing.

In terms of content, the process of development includes 1) noticing areas of weakness or interest that I might address in an upcoming year; 2) getting some consultation from the people within my “venues of growth”; 3) listing ways for me to give room to my new or abiding interests; 3) locating strategies for addressing my areas of weakness; 4) implementing those ways and strategies; and 5) evaluating myself in a way that makes sense for the area of development. CPE has been a part of that process. I came to CPE because it was a way for me to respond to my needs for continued development. When I participated in my first unit and certainly since then, the process has been substantial for my growth (I’d point to my student evaluations to revisit some of those learnings).

I see chaplaincy and supervision as expressions of pastoral ministry. When I serve in the church, that community is the context for my pastoral ministry. For supervisory work, the context is CPE. The work is still pastoral. To track my development in ministry, I draw upon a tool I’ve used in teaching. I’ve worked with students on developing rules of life as a vehicle for exploring and containing practices for development. When I think of my own process of development, I think about the rule which I include as a process of my development.

Included in the process is my intellectual, physical, spiritual, and emotional development; there is room for each. The elements relate to my growth, even if each is not happening while I’m in the professional setting. For example, if I’m not taking care of my body, which my work setting may assume I am, I’ll be no good for the work of spiritual care of patients or families.

I use my birthday as a time to reflect upon my work and life and how I can continually develop. I acknowledge and celebrate how I’ve developed and I spend time thinking through how to continue doing so. As I’ve gone along, other moments have emerged to augment what consideration I have during my birthday. These include an annual assessment from my denomination (March); the beginning of a semester for the classes I teach (late August); the ending of the classes (May); the start and end of CPE units will fall into this developmental plan. At a micro level “processing our process” is something that I’ve drawn from my training supervisor, and that is a constructive way for me to regularly attend to the work I’m doing.

In terms of content, the process of development includes 1) noticing areas of weakness or interest that I might address in an upcoming year; 2) getting some consultation from the people within my “venues of growth”; 3) listing ways for me to give room to my new or abiding interests; 3) locating strategies for addressing my areas of weakness; 4) implementing those ways and strategies; and 5) evaluating myself in a way that makes sense for the area of development. CPE has been a part of that process. I came to CPE because it was a way for me to respond to my needs for continued development. When I participated in my first unit and certainly since then, the process has been substantial for my growth (I’d point to my student evaluations to revisit some of those learnings).

Friends vs. Strangers

Photo Thanks to Kevin Curtis

Photo Thanks to Kevin Curtis

In a day I spend time working with three people: participants in mission at church; patients in a hospital setting, usually in medically intensive situations; and students preparing for continued ministry. All of those people are experiencing some thing in life that is calling out to them, emerging within them.

In the church, we are hearing and speaking to one another around an old and almost common event, reflecting upon the life of Jesus and what that life means now. In the hospital we are generally responding to the crisis of the medical moment and the myriad of ways hospitalization matters to people. In the learning environment (and I’m in three of them in one way or another), we are inspecting the materials available to us for preparation, refinement, and formation.

All those settings are identity shaping settings. In each place, we question—and I do this as a leader or caregiver or teacher—what’s happening and how those happenings turn us into the people we are. Jaco Hamman said, “Many of us live most of the time as strangers to ourselves” (From Becoming a Pastor: Forming Self and Soul for Ministry, p. 10).

When I read Hamman’s words, they struck me because they were a reminder that most of the time, we can be distant from our selves, strangers to ourselves. We can be strangers to the things that shape us and to who we are as shaped, identified people.

How do we get to know who we are? Where are the places in life that reveal, construct, critique, reform, affirm, and embolden identity? I’m paying attention to how my working worlds are more than places I go; there are places I’m made. The same is true for home and circles of friendship. Those are the contexts where identity happens. When we sit in those places with open eyes, we get closer to ourselves. We become friends to ourselves.