Recently, I purchased Eugene Peterson’s newest work titled As Kingfishers Catch Fire. As with every Peterson book, I am inspired to re-think pastoral ministry. He counters much of the American pastoral culture and has earned a reputation as an edgy author because of the convicting bite in his words.
While attending seminary, I love to dive into Peterson’s words because he challenges me to go beyond the academic. He prods the mind to search for the things hidden, mystical, and intangible about pastoral ministry.
There is one thing I am constantly learning from the Lord through Eugene: That pastoral ministry is one of grace, an exercise in patience and love while simultaneously challenging God’s people to see their world from the perspective of the Scriptures.
I love being reminded of this truth. It adds depth to my studies in seminary. It brings life to my sermon preparation. It adds weight to the things I write for this website.
Peterson helps direct my focus on the spiritual formation of the minister. The calling is to do the obvious disciplines: to apply oneself to theological studies and to exercise the gifts placed inside of me. But, there is a deeper draw – one that pulls me into the presence of God and places priority on His activity in my heart…to be aware of the internal work that the Lord is doing, as He teaches me His truths through experience and revelation, adding force to the things I communicate and live.
In other words, I shouldn’t be so busy “doing” and “achieving” for the Lord that I forget the call to be with Him, and to be made more like Him daily thanks to the power of the Spirit. That is the start of successful pastoral ministry. It’s first to be with Christ.