I finally finished reading The Pastor by Eugene Peterson. For the few people that actually check my blog, sorry for the delay in posting. I have been getting my soul cleansed and renewed by Pastor Peterson.
The depression has passed (THANK DE LAWD!) and I have renewed commitment to Jesus, walking in my purpose and not living beneath the level of my beliefs. With that being said…
I really don’t have words for this book. If you are in ministry, if you’re a Christian, if something just doesn’t feel right with Christians and the church in this generation, this is the book to read. “Pastor Pete” as he is referred to often in the book, does not bash Christians, the church or anything for that matter.
He does, however, bring perspective. Something our generation is seriously lacking. Being a historian, I love hearing from my peers and those older than me, but what get’s my undivided attention every time is the old sage, the weathered and wise men and women in their 70s and 80s that have wisdom and perspective different from all of us. That’s what Pastor Pete brings to the table.
He challenges today’s pastors and churches to consider why we truly do ministry. Is it truly to build the Kingdom of God or to make a name for ourselves. He speaks of how difficult it was to find a Christian community–among pastors–that hadn’t fed into “the myth of mega” — the definition church success in North America. He said towards the end of the book, “Pastors of the previous generation would invite you to worship God. Today’s pastors invite us to have a ‘worship experience.'” CHILLING! He addresses the commercialism, marketing, branding and business mindset of the church and the great danger of crowds as a temptation for pastors. He does all of this by simply telling his story, how he became a pastor, his family, his successes, failures and how he walked with God–and really how God walked with him–along this journey. It is refreshing, convicting and eye opening. Riveting from beginning to end. Definitely a book to re-read several times in the years to come.
Take aways for me:
– The Definition of a Pastor. “No pastor knows what he is doing, and the one’s who do are lying to themselves. (my paraphrase)” Pastor Pete clearly established for me ministry is who God has created me to be in the place God has sent me with the people who are in that place. There is no template, just faith.
– Beware of Crowds. I appreciated Pastor Pete challenging all pastors to consider if “mega” beneficial. We know it’s successful. The numbers and money coming in state that. But the question is “Are people growing?” Are people becoming kinder, more gentle, more loving, more peaceful and patient? Are they looking more and more like Jesus or more and more like their pastor? He challenged me to think seriously about pastoring and if so, to pastor a church that is “manageable” and “responsible” that’s in line with the gifts God has given me. For all of his abilities, Pastor Pete’s church never grew beyond 500–on purpose. To grow beyond that compromised his health and the health of the people attending Christ Our King, the church he founded and pastored.
– A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. It’s a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, a renown atheist, that Pastor Peterson used for the title of a book on discipleship our fast paced society. Without words, but through modeling, Eugene Peterson has given me a portrait of what a surrendered life to Jesus looks like over a long period of time. Not the 30 books he has written, or the The Message (he translated a version of the bible….come on!), but that he simply loves Jesus. He’s not concerned about theology or truth or doctrine. He wants to know how to make the Christian life livable. He is committed to loving Jesus and helping people find and love Jesus as well.
You don’t get that way by cutting corners or rushing. It is a long obedience in the same direction.
He has truly defined for me what it means to be a pastor.
Something I am called to be.
Something I want to be.
To do it for God.
To do it well….