Eugene Peterson is a pastor, scholar, author, and poet. He has written over thirty books, including The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. In 1962, Peterson was a founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland, where he served for 29 years before retiring in 1991. He was Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia until retiring in 2006. He now lives in Montana.
What do you think most pastors today don’t understand about the role of pastor?
You share about a moment of self-awareness, a lecture, and a poem which had an everlasting impact on your life as a pastor. Can you share those with us?
What advice would you give to the pastor feeling the pressure to grow his or her numbers?
“They had no idea what a pastor did, they just wanted to be in on something exciting…It satisfied their desire for being important and being effective, but the people they were doing this with—they didn’t even know their names.”
“I was rescued from the consumer mentality by the beauty of that poetry and by the honesty of the doctor.”
“What we want from God is something to do, something to make me better, something to give me the answers to life. And what we’re really after is to answer God ourselves.”
“My approach to preaching was developed by reversing what was so common in American Protestantism: Trying to treat God as an answer-person. And we don’t know enough about God to know what to ask. So we listen, and we listen, and we listen.”
“There’s not very much good preaching these days. Lot of entertainment, lot of stories.”
“Conversation is one of the most important things pastors need patterns on how to develop—instead of telling people what to do, asking them what they’re doing.”
“We don’t need more words; we need accurate words.”
“The Psalms are all prayers, but they don’t always look like prayers.”
“I think pastors need to be more modest in what they’re doing.”
“I think it’s important, according to me anyway, to have some mentors in the cemeteries. People who did it right, before there were crowds of people to become important.”
Mentioned in the Show:
The Diary of a Country Priest George Bernanos