Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Personal Perspective Shapes Everything

Written by: on October 8, 2015

Personal Perspective Shapes Everything


The book, Social Geographies by Gill Valentine, is the ideology of how space and society affect each other. Valentine gives researchable data concerning how we as people relate to and interact with each other on a spatial basis. According to Valentine, this connection can exist in “natural” form or from a preset “social entity.”


What I found interesting and disturbing at times was how intentional the physical space (both body and place) was designed to affect not only an environment or mood of the moment, but actual lasting change. Valentine addresses this first in his chapter on the body: “the body is a surface which cultural values, morality and institutional regimes are inscribed.” This is fascinating to me, I’ve never really thought of it in those terms. How I treat my body and how I view my body communicates much about me culturally (where I am from), morally (what I believe), and socially (how I view others). As a minister, this is a very telegraphic way to “read” a person and or a people group. There is only one inherent danger with this view: my personal body perspective will shape and biasedly slant how I view and “read” others. This is what produces prejudice. That strikes the question: can anyone be prejudice free or is it inherent in our very DNA?


The second arena of physical space that produces lasting change is about “place”. Valentine defines “place” as the physical home, street, city, rural, and nation. From how a home design is gender and consumer based to how meanings are attached to the word “street.” The meaning of these areas is imbedded in a personal perspective and bias. I never gave this much thought, because I only viewed these terms from my safe suburban perspective. For instance, I grew up in a great safe home. So for me the idea of “home” is good, safe, welcoming, but for someone else, the same term could conger up thoughts of violence, hurt, and pain. Even the idea of the “city” being bad or “rural” being uneducated, or the “streets” being a place of social activism, I never really gave thought.


My point with all of this is that “my” personal perspective shapes everything. It shapes who I am and how I personally display my self (body) to the world. It shapes where I live, and how I live, and with whom I interact. It all comes down to me. In a world with a new social geography called social media, my perspectives can shape everything and everyone. The power of social geography has never been more powerful than today. This thought is powerful, because it affects not only me but to all whom I am called to minister. As I write this, I find myself overwhelmed with the power of this thought. It is very invigorating as an individual that although I am only one person, can make a difference. However, it is frightening because all those individuals that I am trying to serve have their own personal perspective that creates change or difference, positively or negatively. Which ideology will survive? What new developments will arise? Many questions, but one truth: personal perspective changes everything.


About the Author

Aaron Cole

7 responses to “Personal Perspective Shapes Everything”

  1. Aaron,
    Good post. My takeaway from Valentine’s book was that she was not basing her assumptions on a Creator. Obviously, it is a secular book and did not need to have a religious slant, but what I found interesting is that she seemed to paint people within a certain box. Like you said, rural means uneducated and so on and so forth. There was very little about someone in that context being able to transform themselves, or from a Christian perspective allow God to transform them.

    As a pastor, how do you fight people’s negative beliefs of themselves (born a certain way, born into poverty, born in the country so therefore must be uneducated) and challenge them to seek transformation?

    I have my own theories, but wanted your feedback.

    • Aaron Cole says:

      Jason, thanks for the compliments. As for how you fight people’s negative perspectives about themselves. I think education is key. It must begin with relationship, people don’t know how much you know, until they know how much you care. Next is education through experience, exposure, and mindset. This is a process, but can be accomplished.

      • I totally agree with that assessment. I do not feel like people are locked in their culture. People can breakout, but I think many times people choose to be in that culture or remain a stereotype. Change is difficult on any level, so people live with what they believe society says about them. What is interesting from a Biblical stand point is how God changes peoples’ names when they were transformed: Abraham, Israel, Paul. God did not see them trapped in their culture, but he set them free and gave them a new identity.

  2. Hey Aaron. Thanks for laughing at my jokes! Looking forward to sharing many more with you.
    Two things:
    You said, “The power of social geography has never been more powerful than today.” I totally agree which is why I’m glad we read this book. I didn’t know there was such a thing. Now I know that there something called social geography and it is very powerful. As a pastor, like you, it seems like we can use this power for good and the good of our congregations. I would like to read the follow-up book written by a pastor on how to do that.
    Second, I like what you replied to Jason. Education is key! Education through relationship, experience, exposure and mindset (the mind is key, as you know). Do you do any type of formal/semi-formal education at your church? The Hub currently does not so I am very curious.

    • Aaron Cole says:

      Aaron, this may seem like a cop-out but, I find that most of that exposure at Life Church is in the form of the following:

      1 local outreach and service – getting people to work and serve in different areas of the city (outside their comfort zones)

      2. international mission trips – because missions is caught not taught (at least not exclusively)

      3. from the ethos of the church which begins with lead pastor ministry from ideology to weekend teaching. That is that we as a church are about life change, therefore we must reach people where they are not where we are. Therefore we serve them first.

  3. Phil Goldsberry says:


    Valentine was alarming on several fronts. Did she report and have some, and I use the word “some”, truth and insight?

    Your quote, “the body is a surface which cultural values, morality and institutional regimes are inscribed.” You mentioned that as a pastor we “read” people. What about the antithesis? Do people do the same to us? Your thoughts….

    Which ideology do you think is going to survive?


    • Aaron Cole says:


      yes i think people are “reading” us every weekend and making a decision with their feet and pocketbooks. As for which will win out, only time will tell. But the church will prevail! I do not believe that we will be relegated to some small insignificant remnant of sorts, but we are THE Bride of Christ. The Church of Jesus will Prevail!!!!

      Preach, Preacha!!!

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