Today’s Eugene Peterson Quote:
Sometimes I think all I do as pastor is speak the word ‘God’ in a situation in which it hasn’t been said before, where people haven’t recognized His presence. Joy is the capacity to hear the name and to recognize that God is here. There’s a kind of exhilaration because God is doing something and, even in a little way, it’s enough at the moment. Eugene Peterson (from Rodney Clapp’s Introduction to The Contemplative Pastor pp.13-14)
Why, oh why, do I, as a pastor, feel the great need to be God’s fix-it man?
Why, oh why, do I, as a pastor, believe that it’s my job to build Jesus’ church for Him?
Why, oh why, do I, as a pastor, get up each morning with a job description and ‘to-do’ list that is so long and complicated that I’m exhausted before 10 AM?
Why, oh why, can’t I, as a pastor, take Eugene Peterson’s advice here and see that my primary job as a shepherd of God’s people is to simply speak ‘God’ into situations where no one else is?
Just think on that for a moment. How exciting might ministry become, for example, if we pastors truly believed that there are only two scenarios in life?
One without God.
In truth, the Bible is continually showing us story after story where people try to live their lives down here on planet earth without God. Generally, it goes well for a while, and then bang, emergencies start to occur and we suddenly realize that life without God really sucks. Then, with the help of God’s Spirit, we come to our senses, fall on our knees, asking our Creator to come back into our mess and show us the way. As a loving Father who never really leaves us, God does just that, and now life makes more sense. Until tomorrow. That’s when we get cocky and self-confident enough to think we can take it from there. The process repeats itself, and over time, we see there are really only two options in life.
One without God.
As I see it, the sooner we wise-guy pastors can get back to this basic truth that our primary job as ministers of Jesus’ gospel is to speak God’s presence back into God-less situations, the sooner Jesus’ Kingdom ministry can get back on track in our lives. What if, for example, we never stepped into a ministry situation ever again with the goofy idea that we can fix it? What if we, instead, believed that only God’s manifest presence can help the situation at hand, thus we did a lot less talking and a lot more inviting God to step into this God-less situation? Just imagine if we started to master this ‘Come, God, take over’ ministry and began teaching others to have the same mission in life? What if we had a whole bunch of people running around the world believing the only answer in life lies in our ability to speak God into God-less situations?
Gosh, maybe that’s what the first-century Scripture writers had in mind when they named those kinds of people ‘Christians?’ The term means ‘little Christ.’ So just like Jesus, we go around simply reminding folks that they are trying to live life without God’s manifest presence and the best thing we can all do in these situations is stop our doing and start inviting our Holy God into these matters.
Hmm. Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Now, where have I heard that before?
My prayer: Father God, I confess that I so often take on the problems of those I serve and somehow believe it’s my responsibility, as a pastor, to fix the problem or relieve the pain. While my presence in these ministry situations is important, help me to fully comprehend, Jesus, how my only job is to bring You into the situation; knowing that You can take things from there. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So where am I overstepping my responsibilities as a pastor? Where am I trying to over-achieve, attempting to do God’s work for Him, rather than being content to be a midwife, one who brings both God and the person in need together?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Contemplative Pastor?
Over a 37-blog series, you and I will take a deeper look at Eugene Peterson’s classic, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our blog series home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
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