This past Christmas my children blessed me with Eugene H. Peterson’s memoir The Pastor. What a joy it has been, in the weeks since, to take a leisurely stroll through Peterson’s reflections on his life and ministry. What a blessed realization to hear echoes of his life and ministry in mine. While my present doesn’t repeat Peterson’s past, it rhymes in so many ways.
Here’s one word that echoed in my life: Was it realistic to think I could develop from being a competitive pastor to something more like a contemplative pastor – a pastor who was able to be with people without having an agenda for them, a pastor who was able to accept people just as they were and guide them gently and patiently into a mature life in Christ but not get in the way, let the Holy Spirit do the guiding? (210-211) Can’t say I have arrived at such a state, but there is still time.
Here’s another: I can be hired to do a job, paid a fair wage if I do it, dismissed if I don’t. But I can’t be hired to be a pastor, for my primary responsibility is not to the people I serve but the God I serve (165). Sure I believe this but my anxiety over what people think about me may reveal my real convictions.
Still another: Classically, there are three ways in which humans try to find transcendence (religious meaning, God meaning) apart from God as revealed in the cross of Jesus: through the ecstasy of alcohol and drugs, through the ecstasy of recreational sex, through the ecstasy of crowds. Church leaders frequently warn against the drugs and the sex, but, at least in America, almost never again the crowds. Probably because they get so much ego benefit from the crowds. But a crowd destroys the spirit as thoroughly as excessive drink and depersonalized sex. OUCH!
There is more – so many more jewels of wisdom from a fellow Christ-follower who has faithfully served the Lord as pastor and who calls others to serve the Lord as a contemplative pastor who “pays attention to what is going on right now between men and women, with one another and with God – this kingdom of God that is primarily local, relentlessly personal, and prayerful without ceasing.”