Integration: A Whole Life Perspective
Integration has become a rather sexy word in our pop culture. A word that expresses, I believe, the heartfelt passion of the human heart that is longing for a perspective that brings peace, a wholeness of the soul. Academia has long since desired to be integrated in its disciplines and fields of study with one of its more recent advances called “Signature Pedagogies” coined by Lee S. Shulman. He explains that a Signature Pedagogy contains three dimensions: surface structure, deep structure, and an implicit structure. Surface structures consist of concrete, operational acts of teaching and learning, while deep structures reflect a set of assumptions about how best to impart a certain body of knowledge and know-how. The implicit structure includes a moral dimension that comprises a set of beliefs about professional attitudes, values, and dispositions. (Schulman, L. S. (2005). Signature Pedagogies in the Professions. Daedalus, 134 (3), 52-59) More simply, a Signature Pedagogy teaches someone how to think (head), to perform (hand) and to act with integrity (heart).
Integration requires an awareness and understanding of the “set of assumptions” that undergird or inform the process of learning and practice. At The Trivium Institute for Leader Development, we understand all this around a simple word, “worldview”, that is the unifying factor of all of our teachings and processes. Integration, from a life perspective, is not simply what we think but also how we see. Perspective, the understanding that defines our world is what guides and informs our lives and in this, our learning. Jesus said that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21, ESV). Where we have placed our trust, our belief is what then determines what we value, what we see, what we think and what we do. It is this perception that lies at the basis of all our life and learning.
Perception is subjective, while facts are objective. It is the interplay of the two that comprises our educational systems and life practices. Facts cannot be altered as they are what they are. However, the system or grid that incorporates the facts can alter the truth of the fact making it more true or less true. The worldview that we live by or are taught to accept is then what determines how the factual realities of our lives and world connect with who we are and the reality that we are penultimate beings dependent upon something or someone greater to determine how all this works in a universe that is not of our making. We are limited in our capacity to understand the ultimate purpose of a universe that we did not create; which maybe precisely why the multi-verse theory is so attractive as the only thing I can make sense of is my universe that exists within the great “verse” and so we have “multi-verses” trying to connect and make sense of individual and random stories or lives within the confines of the great “verse”. We now are more desperate than ever to find the “uni” in the “universe”.
Perception is also based in an encounter with the truth as a proposition and truth as a person. Regarding truth as a proposition, we find the “ah hah” moments that register deep in our beings when we come to know something, realigning and redefining what we perceive and think, ultimately impacting how we act.
Regarding truth as a person, this is the encounter with something divine that is “supra-rational” that redefines everything in our world, causing us to reorient our entire worldview (heart) around this new reality. Scripture makes quite plain that this Truth is Jesus. If this is the case then, we have a relationship with the Truth making Truth something we submit to with our hearts, the control center of our lives; which impacts our entire perceptive grid making integration a relational, subjective process that impacts our objective world with lives that are marked by the Fruit of the Spirit, creating transformed change agents that understand the world through the grid of a relational, Trinitarian God that is poignantly and powerfully manifested Himself in and through the life of Jesus, who is the our centerpiece of integration.
All that to say, integration from an inter-disciplinary perspective in education is a good thing but falls far short of a holistic life integration that connects our stories with life practices to the ultimate Story, the One who is Knowledge, Wisdom and Life with an inherent set of life practices that are housed in the creative genius of the God who made us in His image, requiring each masterpiece to discover the Christ that is being formed in them (Gal. 4:19) and integrate their lives around this eternal treasure that reorients and redefines everything; freeing the learner to join the Father in the ministry of reconciliation that re-humanizes, re-dignifies, and re-values everyone and everything according to the Ultimate Reality of God in Christ.
It this this integration that we at the Trivium Institute for Leader Development are after. Pray you join us as we, as individual stories, find ourselves placed in His Story, freeing us to find meaning and purpose in this beautiful but fragmented world as reconciled change agents bringing His healing and integrating Shalom to both the creature and the creation.
Rev. Mike Chong Perkinson serves as the Senior Developer with The Praxis Center for Church Development and is also Co-President and Dean of the School of Church & Ministry Leadership for The Trivium Institute. Mike has also co-authored four books with Tom Johnston.
Mike has planted four churches and created extensive church networks in Northern California, Arizona and the Philippines. Currently Mike is the Lead Pastor of CrossRoads Christian Fellowship of BigFork, Montana. Mike is at the forefront of leadership training and development in the greater body of Christ, having created various schools of ministry throughout the southwestern United States, and is a trained NCD Coach-Consultant. He holds an MA from Fuller Theological Seminary. Mike and his wife Teresa have been married since 1983 and have two intelligent and beautiful daughters.