For one of my classes, Mentored Ministry, I recently completed one of the most time-consuming projects of my academic career. Actually, I guess I've probably worked longer on other projects, but this one was just... exhausting.
Every M.Div. student is required to do 2 semesters of Mentored Ministry-- one placement inside the church walls, and one placement outside the church walls. The requirement is 8 hours per week. My situation is a bit unique in that I actually am employed by a church, and am paid to work 30 hours per week. Luckily, the Mentored Ministry powers-that-be approved my Mentored Ministry "placement" to be at the church where I already work. And I don't have to add 8 additional hours on to the 30 (or more) that I already work.
Our big project for the semester is a case study on an "event" that takes place in our ministry placement. Not an event that you attend-- but rather a conversation or an interaction in which the student is involved and is required to make ministry related decisions. I chose a recent conversation between a church member and myself.
On Monday, as I faced my 14th straight hour of work on this project (that was just on Monday-- I had spent pieces of the weekend working on it as well), I was cursing it. There was a verbatim to be done, a character analysis, an exchange analysis, research, self-evaluation, and decisions made about how I will move towards self-improvement. It was grueling.
But today, as I walked away from class having been a part of a peer-led critique of my case study, I feel great. And am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have looked at the situation with fresh eyes, and acknowledged areas in my life where growth must take place.
I must say, that even though this was one of the most difficult assignments of my seminary career, it definitely had the greatest payoff. Seriously. I myself saw weaknesses within me, and I was part of an affirming critique by my peers-- they pointed out some strengths I was not aware of, and offered invaluable insight as to how I might grow in knowledge and experience.
I am grateful for this entire process!
The other part I failed to mention was that my case study was the first to be reviewed, which made me extremely nervous! Each student in the class is to complete a case study, and each week one is reviewed. Mine was the first to be turned in and the first to be reviewed. I was bummed about this at first, but now that it's done, I'm very glad that the majority of my work is now done with for the semester.
Um, that's all. Not a big profound post or anything-- but today I am rejoicing over new things learned!