I am a fan of Eugene Peterson. I would rate any of his books 10 out of 10; admittedly, I have had to take my time to read some more than others! His book, “The Pastor: A Memoir,” took time because of his transparency and his passion for being a pastor.
While there are many quotes that I want to share, one found in chapter 38 communicates his heart as a pastor. It concerns his reason for writing “The Message.” It is a response to a senior editor at NavPress about his translation of Galatians, the first book he translated. It took him two years, and he did it as a “pastoral act.”
“I had sensed that these people to whom I was pastor were slipping into a kind of Americanized religion … becoming conformed to the security systems and customer satisfactions of the culture around them. I wanted to recover the energetic vigor of Paul’s insistence on living original lives in Christ, not lives sustained by hand-me-downs from the culture … they were losing their sharp sense of Christian identity” (Peterson, 2011).
“The Pastor” is a pastor’s book. His experience beginning with planting and pastoring his church for 29 years is heard here: “… the pervasive element of our 2000-year pastoral tradition … is 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 prayer without ceasing” (Peterson, 2011). Press on pastors!
James K. Ellis is a graduate of Cornerstone University and Cornerstone Theological Seminary. He served as a Navy chaplain for 24 years and in higher education for 12 years at Union University and Arizona Christian University. Currently, Ellis is an elder and pastor of counseling and care at Redemption Church in Peoria, Ariz.