Reading the seasoned pastoral wisdom of Eugene Peterson is for weary pastors like drinking ice cold water after running a marathon in the desert heat. I found this excerpt at the iMonk. Drink deeply, my friends!
. . . Do we do it in Jesus’ way or do we do it the Wal-Mart way? Spirituality is not about ends or benefits or things; it’s about means. It’s about how you do this. How do you live in reality?
So, how do you help all these people? The needs are huge. Well, you do it the way Jesus did it. You do it one at a time. You can’t do gospel work, kingdom work in an impersonal way.
We live in the Trinity. Everything we do has to be in the context of the Trinity, which means personally, relationally. The minute you start doing things impersonally, functionally, mass oriented, you deny the gospel. Yet that’s all we do.
Jesus is the Truth and the Life, but first he’s the Way. We can’t do Jesus’ work in the Devil’s way.
I get exercised about this because many pastors are getting castrated by these methodologies, which are impersonal. There’s no relationship to them. And so they become performance oriented and successful. It’s pretty easy in our culture, at least if you’re tall and have a big smile. And they lose their soul. There’s nothing to them after 20 years. Or they crash. They try all this stuff and it doesn’t work, and they quit, or quit and start doing something else. Probably 90 percent of the affairs that pastors have are not due to lust, but boredom with not having this romantic kind of life they thought they’d get.
. . . One test I think is this: Am I working out of the Jesus story, the Jesus methods, the Jesus way? Am I sacrificing relationship, personal attention, personal relationship for a shortcut, a program so I can get stuff done? You can’t do Jesus’ work in a non-Jesus way and get by with it—although you can be very “successful.”
One thing that I think is characteristic of me is I stay local. I’m rooted in a pastoral life, which is an ordinary life. So while all this glitter and image of spirituality is going around, I feel quite indifferent to it, to tell you the truth. And I’m somewhat suspicious of it because it seems to be uprooted, not grounded in local conditions, which are the only conditions in which you can live a Christian life.