Thursday, January 22, 2009

Slowing down pastor (peterson interview)

A nice interview with Eugene Peterson in the Winter 2009 issue of Leadership magazine on studying (and listening to) the Bible (pp. 45-47). I couldn't find it online, but here are a few answers I especially liked:
LEADERSHIP: As our world becomes more technological with more ways to communicate, do you think it's becoming harder for pastors to slow down and listen?

PETERSON: Yes, but who else is going to do it if not pastors? No one else has the opportunity and the calling we have. I mean, we are the only identifiable group in society commissioned to pray, reflect on Scripture, and listen. And we are part of a spiritual Christian culture based on the Word. Pastors have got to learn to take words more seriously - not just as information or doctrine or rules. If we don't, who will?

LEADERSHIP: As you challenge pastors to slow down, listen, and reflect, what kind of responses are you getting?

PETERSON: Pastors tell me they would lose their jobs if they lived that way. And they might be right. I was called to my church when it was a new congregation. I was the only pastor most of the people had ever known. They were used to me and my perspective on ministry. After being there about ten years, I realized there probably wasn't another church in the country that would hire me. No one else would put up with my way of living and working.

But I know a significant number of pastors who have slowed down to really listen. But they made a deliberate choice to do it. I have one friend who just resigned from his 800 member church without another call. His criteria for accepting another church is that it must be less than one hundred members. There are pastors choosing this kind of life, but you don't usually hear about them.

Later on he added this story...
In the last class I taught at Regent, a young woman came up to me and was very irritated. "Dr. Peterson," she said, "three times during the lecture you did not say anything for twenty seconds. I know because I timed you. I'm from Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, teachers go: Bang! Bang! Bang! I want my money's worth."

We're going to have people like that, people who want very polished and efficient teaching. But when I see people in my congregation taking notes during the sermon, I stop and say, "Put your pencils away. I want you to listen. LISTEN to the Word of God. It's not something for you to figure out; it's something for you to respond to."

It's slow work, and pastors are not patient people.

Very good stuff.