Thoughts from Eugene Peterson…

Posted: March 2, 2012 by efenster in Ideas

This past week I had the privilege of spending two days, along with 98 other people, with Eugene Peterson and his wife Jan.  I knew him only as the writer of The Message paraphrase of the Bible, but quickly discovered that he is a Christ-filled man full of incredible humility and wisdom

Together we considered the various practices that can help us Christians deepen our walk with God.  Here are some highlights…

Be yourself.  What is an essential aspect of living out our calling?  To be the person that God uniquely created us to be.  It is easy to look at others in the church and to wish we could be more like them.  I think of people who speak so eloquently.  Others who are sharp-witted and have just the right comment no matter the issue.  I think of smart people who are able to grapple with difficult issues and come away with wise conclusions.  I think of those who have influence due to their magnetic personalities.  But, Peterson reminded me that I’m not called to be them, just myself. 

To those of you who are pastors he says, “Being a pastor is the most context-specific vocation.  You can’t copy techniques.  Your congregation is unique and you are too, so don’t wish you were someone else!” 

Know your people.  It is far more important to know and understand the people you are called to minister with than to understand church growth techniques.  Ouch!  I love church development; I’ve given my life to it!  But, I must remember that the people and relationships trump strategies and programs.  “Programs are necessary, especially in a large church, but they can replace the need for relationships.”

Be content.  Peterson told us to “be content with who you are and where you are.”  He told us about how the monks tell newcomers that their cell will teach them all they need to know.   Similarly, he said, “Be content with your congregation, it will teach you all you need to know.” 

In future blogs, I will share more.  Until then, I welcome your responses!  — Ed Fenstermacher


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