One of the most significant mentors in my ministry is T.L. Steinwert, who endured six years of my star wars references, really rough early ministry mistakes, and didn’t kill me when I first met her and called her “girl” (never call a feminist a “girl”…ever). She is now the first woman to be the Dean of the Chapel at Hendricks College in Syracuse, NY.
I know she is significant in my life because I now see my every choice in life to be not only personal but also theological and political. Even the most innocuous of choices can be a vehicle for explaining theological conviction and can slowly build the reign of God through our personal, political, and professional lives.
For instance, one of the quirks I picked up from my time with her is choosing to use the term “partner” to describe my relationship with my spouse. I’ll let Rev. Steinwert explain why language in this video that details her balancing act of personal and professional life and that it requires partnership in her family.
See? A simple choice of “partner” language becomes an opportunity to:
- Talk about theological convictions,
- Offer a word of inspiration to working women, and
- Break down society’s conceptions on family units.
It is the best refutation to graceless drivel like last month’s post on rigid gender roles and stay-at-home dads and a reminder to us all the power of a simple word.
Words are powerful, and simply changing a single word in your vocabulary can open up conversation, and changing a single word in a hymn can broaden its meaning. I’m thankful often for this lesson and I cannot count the number of conversations I’ve had in rural America that are sparked by unexpected words and the convictions that go with them.
What word (churchy or otherwise) do you hear a lot that either (a) irritates you and you can’t stand it, or (b) inspires you by its meaning and unexpected use?