Note from CM: Eugene Peterson died yesterday. He was the pastor’s pastor, and a delightful, important subversive voice in today’s church culture. Peterson was my pastoral hero and (book-)mentor. One of my greatest regrets is knowing that he pastored in the town where I lived while a teenager and I never attended his church. I hope to have a full appreciation ready for tomorrow. We’ll continue our Reformation thoughts next week. This is personal, and not only for me. Countless pastors and Christians who care about quality control when it comes to pastoral ministry benefited from his words, including my friend Matthew B. Redmond. Here is a post he wrote several years ago, sharing some of the lessons he learned from a master pastoral practitioner.
• • •
A word from Matt: …I have become a Peterson reference for dozens and dozens of men, mostly pastors. Most want to know where to start with his works because they are exasperated with what they have been sold as pastoral work. I used to tell them to start with The Contemplative Pastor since it is the book in most direct opposition to everything other way of thinking about the pastorate that is popular today. It is a quiet manifesto of insurrection. But now it may be good to start with his memoir – The Pastor: A Memoir I still get emails thanking me for the review I posted on amazon. Usually, it’s because a pastor thought he was alone. Now he knows he is not.
A word to young pastors…Read Peterson now. Eventually you will most likely thirst for his sanity and long to get off the hamster-wheel. I know most of you will not do it, you are drunk on trends and excitement.)
I’ve been slowly reading through Eugene Peterson’s books this year. I’ve learned a lot about being a pastor that is in direct opposition to the way I naturally think…and most people think, I would hazard. The following are ten of those lessons.
1. Pastoral Work does not look “busy.”
2. The hard work of a pastor is done in the quiet of study and prayer.
3. Most pastors are pragmatists because they have never seen any other kind of pastoral work done.
4. You will never get the job of pastoral work down to a science.
5. Read novels as a part of your ministry.
6. How-to sermons are rarely – if ever – helpful.
7. Don’t listen to the conventional wisdom.
8. It is so normal for bullies to fill our pulpits we can no longer recognize the problem.
9. Pastors should not seek to be part of the super-spiritual crowd but seek to be normal – only more so.
10. God and his work in Christ are our subject.