In the second half of this interview, Eugene Peterson continues his discussion of his newest book The Pastor: A Memoir, released February 22. In the book, he talks about the biggest challenge that spiritual leaders face…as pastors, he says, it’s easy to substitute talking about God for paying attention to God. There’s a dangerous split between “what you’re doing for God and who you are before God.”
Peterson recalls the experience of losing a large percentage of his church attendance just months after his church was built in Maryland. He calls this time of his life “the badlands,” where he came to the realization that Americans are all about competition and love to focus on a challenge. The challenge of fundraising and of doing the impossible, for his church, was the most important thing to people. He vowed, at that point in his career, to work in a non-competitive nature, and it has changed his approach to writing and ministry. He learned, at this point, to move beyond finding ways to be successful, to “enter into his own limitations and deal with God,” not what people thought of him.
About Eugene Peterson
Eugene Peterson, translator of the multi-million selling contemporary English version of the Bible, The Message, spent 29 years in the pulpit, 20 years as a professor, and has written 30 influential books on church, spirituality, and the Bible. Now, in his latest book, The Pastor: A Memoir, he recounts his “haphazard” formation as a pastor. He also challenges the church-as-business model, and laments the pastorate as “a way of life that is in ruins,” corrupted by the “strategies of religious entrepreneurs with business plans.”
Eugene H. Peterson, author of The Message, the bestselling contemporary translation of the Bible, is professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia, and the author of over thirty books, including The Jesus Way, Practice Resurrection, and A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. He and his wife Jan live in Montana.