Field education provides a safe and accountable practice field for the student to learn and exercise skills of ordained leadership. My field education placement internship was highly practical and informative for my ministry. Having the opportunity to practice the skills from the classroom and the lessons picked up through being immersed in the life of the congregation has deepened my understanding of what it means to be a minister and to lead a community. The experience was full of learning and difficulties as I navigated the role of being an associate minister in a small rural community.
I gained an mmense about of knowledge on the administrative and planning portions of ministry. Through trial and error, along with feedback, I utilized my experiences to grow as a leader and to address conflict in a healthy and productive manner that nurtures communal responsibility and spiritual growth. It has been an adventure to try to figure out how previous leaders functioned in their roles and especially how items are stored throughout the building. I felt like I was on a treasure hunt to find certain items, yet I am persistent and found the items.
It was frustrating as the present leadership could not locate items. It made me question how the bylaws and written documents are followed. When reviewing the legal documents, the congregation is not in compliance. A good portion of my time was spent stressing the importance of safe sanctuary practices, healthy boundaries, and best practice to adhere to the proper standards. The contextual learning environment allows for dialogue between the heritage and disciplines of faith and the congregations and people served. I am grateful for the relationships that I have gained through the field education experience.
From theological reflection, I gained a new nderstanding of ministry and developed skills in interpersonal and inter-professional relationships. I struggled to be in a productive relationship with my site supervisor. Throughout the year, I have learned more in depth about my leadership style and how I manage the diverse pieces of being in a role with a high level of responsibility and leadership. I have a type a personality along with being driven by completing goals. I value being a hard worker and following through on projects after planning out and implementing of the necessary preparations.
The five student learning outcome for Field Education are to emonstrate increased knowledge and skill for ministry service and leadership, to connect theological knowledge with the practice of ministry, to employ skills for forming and sustaining relationships, to act with contextual awareness and cultural competence, and to engage in ministry with increased vocational and spiritual maturity. I feel as though I have grown in all of these areas as I employ the teachings of the course and learn from my surroundings.
The purpose of Field Education is to help students to integrate ministry experience, academic studies, personal development, and spiritual formation. Field Education has also shown the life-long importance of developing a supportive learning community as part of any ministry endeavor. Throughout my journey with my placement site, I have had to challenge my personal embedded, espoused, and deliberative theologies. I have come to realized that I strongly have a lived theology that actions speak louder than words and that people need to be active in their faith.
This has been challenged in my current setting as individuals do not want to be challenged to grow and are content being stagnant, as viewed through my eyes. I say that I have an espoused theology of abundant grace, yet found myself being critical of the limited faith I perceived from members of the community. This created an internal conflict as I said one thing and reacted in another manner. Through deliberative theology and reflection, I have shifted my theology to be more truly about abundant grace without judgment and to serve one another without reserve.
My placement has taught me to let go of some of my controlling manners and to work on not being critical of others. I need to let go of the continuous thought that it is up to me to fix everything. I have gained many skills and techniques to carry with me as I continue in ministry. I greatly appreciate learning about and applying the narrative leadership style, along with the five practices of model the way, cultivate shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart.
I see value in taking the time to know the various stories that make up the community’s story. We must listen to what is omitted and what embodies the story. All of this shapes the leadership needs of the community, yet the leader also shapes the stories. The other most important take away from the course that I have mplemented and continued to learn is to be a non-anxious presence to counteract the anxiety that is present in the community due to family systems theory.
This emphasized to me the importance of maintaining healthy relationships and having appropriate emotional cut-offs. I must respect the rights of others and who I am without adapting to please others. I need strong emotional and spiritual stamina to stay on course and stand in courage. This goes along with our many conversations on emotional intelligence through being self- aware, self-managed, socially aware, and able to form and sustain relationships. All of this has been tested and forged through practical ministry.
I found value in the ladder of inference as I encountered various conflicts and issues that arose and needed to be resolved. I had to analyze where my actions and beliefs were affecting the growth or lack of growth in the community. Going forward I strive to continue working on my reactions. As we learned in differentiation, I need to be moving towards an intentional way of life and away from being reactive. I need to stay true to my limits and be willing to refer people on when I reach my limits. have had many obstacles already arise in my inistry.
It was insightful to learn more about what causes push back in ministry, such as lack of flexibility and loss of focus, and to spend time brainstorming how to counter. The most important things to recall are the importance of creativity and to not be afraid of failure. You have to take risks to move forward. Likewise, I tend to be easily discouraged. I need to keep in mind that differences are opportunities and that conflict means that the people are invested. My next steps as I continue on my vocational path are to continue to learn from my surroundings and to seek out pportunities for growing new skills.
I have placed myself on the pulpit supply list within my region and am taking on an ambassador role for education and scholarship in the region. I am also planning to begin a year-long Clinical Pastoral Education placement within a year post-graduation. Due to a lack of knowledge in well-rounded pastoral care and counseling, I have decided to pursue a degree in professional counseling. I will be attending the University of Central Missouri beginning in the Fall to complete the Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. I look forward to continuing to