I am reading Eugene Peterson’s book, The Pastor. I wish I had read a book like this, long ago. I may never have left my first church. (I left it, moving on to find new challenges and opportunities, and to run from some, too, in which I did not know how best to cope or respond.) But Peterson, through the telling of his own unfolding life-story and through the showing / telling of what it means to be a pastor (and what it does not mean), reveals to me a breadth, but mostly a depth, of this sacred vocation. It resonated deeply within me as truth and in many ways I long to go back and do it over, and try harder to get it right.
All of us have a book we would like talk about and to share, perhaps the most recent one that has somehow touched us. But, I would say that this is a unique book, pointing to a vocation and to its essence that would be so helpfully freeing and instructive regarding the the task of pastors today, or in any day. It should be in the hands of each pastor. And church folk other than pastors would do well to read it, and so to understand as well the role of pastor in the Christian community. It will also help would-be pastors who are trying to discern a potential call to this vocation. It will help some decide, who really should move on, hearing God’s call to something else.
I would summarize the core theme of The Pastor as follows:
“Pay attention – to God, to God’s Story, to God’s world – to this moment, this day. Pay attention to people, to this community, to this person in this particular time and place, and to their story. And, be open to see and to trust that somehow our stories, each one and of this community, somehow fits in to God’s Story. Learn then to live into the purposes and unfolding narrative of God, particularly as depicted in the Biblical record, the Book of Scripture, but also in the Book of Creation. A pastor is to do that, him or herself, and the vocation itself is somehow about helping people through Holy Spirited-assistance to do that as well: to pay attention, to enter into the fullness and wonder of God’s Story.”
Read this book. Let God speak to you through the sage wisdom, experience and storied-counsel of this Godly man.