September 2, 2007

Patience

I am reading Eugene Peterson's (not to be confused with 2007 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Adrian Peterson, whose #28 jersey I acquired while watching the Vikes dominate the Cowgirls Thursday night) *The Contemplative Pastor* while on vacation near Grand Marais in lovely northern Minnesota, and was struck by his treatment of the need for patience in the pastoral office. Rightly is the "hire and fire" mentality of congregations bemoaned, but I wonder if it is not greatly overestimated. Pastors too need to treat their Call for what it is, and not abandon ship when things don't happen according to our own self-centered timetable.

"The working environment of pators erodes patience and rewards impatience. People are uncomfortable with mystery (God) and mess (themselves). They avoid both mystery and mess by devising programs and hiring pastors to manage them....

"With programs shaping the agenda--not amazing grace, not stubborn sin--the pastor doesn't have to be patient. We set a goal, work out a strategy, recruit a few Christian soldiers, and go to it. If, in two or three years the soldiers haven't produced, we shake the dust off our feet and hire on as captain to another group of mercenaries. When a congregation no longer serves our ambition, it is abandoned under the euphemism of 'a larger ministry.' In the majority of such cases, our impatience is rewarded with a larger salary.

"Apocalypse shows this up as inexcusable exploitation. Apocalypse convinces us that we are in a desperate situation, and in it together. The grass is not greener in the next committee, or parish, or state. All that matters is worshiping God, dealing with evil, and developing faithfulness" (p48).

1 comment:

Mason said...

Christopher,
I just finished that book last week! It was my second time through- good reorientation for the parish pastor, IMO.

Thanks for the mention of my blog. I am going to get it figured out!
+Mason