24 September 2015

The Unbusy Pastor

Though I am not a pastor, I have been drinking deeply from Eugene Peterson's excellent memoir The Pastor (2012). I personally believe this book should be required reading for all pastors.

On page 277 of the book, he writes of his crisis when on the eve of the 27th evening in a row occupied by church meetings, he told his daughter Karen that he could not read to her. He went into the meeting with the elder board with the intention to resign. He recalls telling them,

"And it's not just Karen. It's you too. I haven't been a pastor to this congregation for six months. I pray in fits and starts. It feels like I am in a hurry all the time. When I visit or have lunch with you, I'm not listening to you; I'm thinking of ways I can get the momentum going again. My sermons are thrown together. I don't want to live like this, either with you or with my family."

"So what do you want to do?" This was Craig speaking. His father had been a pastor. He knew some of this from the inside.

"I want to be a pastor who prays. I want to be reflective and responsive and relaxed in the presence of God so that I can be reflective and responsive and relaxed in your presence. I can't do that on the run. It takes a lot of time. I started out doing that with you, but now I feel too crowded.

"I want to be a pastor who reads and studies. This culture in which we live squeezes all the God sense out of us. I want to be observant and informed enough to help this congregation understand what we're up against, the temptations of the devil to get us thinking we can all be our own gods. This is subtle stuff. It demands some detachment and perspective. I can't do this just by trying harder.

"I want to be a pastor who has the time to be with you in leisurely, unhurried conversations so that I can understand and be a companion with you as you grow in Christ--your doubts and difficulties, your desires and delights. I can't do that when I am running scared.

"I want to be a pastor who leads you in worship, a pastor who brings you before God in receptive obedience, a pastor who preaches sermons that make Scripture accessible and present and alive, a pastor who is able to give you a language and imagination that restores in you a sense of dignity as a Christian in your homes and workplaces and gets rid of these debilitating images of being a 'mere' layperson.

"I want to have time to read a story to Karen.

"I want to be an unbusy pastor."

1 comment:

Shadoe.Settle said...

Thanks for sharing, Jason. I really appreciate it.