Eugene Peterson died last month (October 22, 2018) after a long life of service to the kingdom of God. He was an author, scholar, and pastor. I never met him, but his writings marked my ministry greatly.
His 2011 memoirs titled The Pastor, came into my life at just the right time. One of my pastors – Ronnie Meek – asked me to read Peterson’s book. It was a time of internal struggle with my call, and disillusionment with the modern definition of a pastor that I was watching destroy several of my colleagues while eating away at me.
In December 2011, Beth and I were exploring Chicago (see picture). As I followed Beth around Michigan avenue, I carried Peterson’s wisdom with a 1stedition Kindle Reader. Page after page, chapter after chapter, Peterson’s enjoyable stories and thought-provoking phrases chipped away at my hidden obsession to be to be a super-star religious leader.
In Peterson’s stories, I noticed my story in a new way. As he wrote, “I was a pastor long before I knew I was a pastor; I just never had a name for it.” God used this book to bring me back home to God’s call. Since that time, I have referred back to passages in The Pastormany times to re-center my call to this exhilarating, boring, spectacular, ordinary, complicated, privileged call to pastor God’s people.
…the pervasive element in our two-thousand-year pastoral tradition is not someone who “gets things done” but rather the person placed in the community to pay attention and call attention to “what is going on right now” between men and women, with one another and with God—this kingdom of God that is primarily local, relentlessly personal, and prayerful “without ceasing.” – Eugene Peterson