Peterson on the Pastoral Role

Christianity Today interviewed Eugene Peterson about the role of a pastor.  Peterson is one of my mentors I’ve not yet met.  Here is some of what he said:

On the Pastor’s Task:

My task as pastor was to show how the Bible got lived. Of course it’s important to show that the Bible is true, but we have theologians and apologists for that. I just accepted the fact it was true and didn’t bother much about that. I needed to be a witness to people in my congregation that everything in the Bible is livable and to try to avoid abstractions about big truths, big doctrines. I wanted to know how these ideas got lived in the immediate circumstances of people’s lives at work, in the town, and in the family.

On Authority:

The role of the pastor is to embody the gospel. And of course to get it embodied, which you can only do with individuals, not in the abstract.  The authority of the pastor comes from immersion in a community, from giving witness to the fact that this is livable stuff.

That is our task, not just to say it but to live it and to cultivate relationships that have integrity. It’s not telling people what to belief and what to do, which is part of it, but to live it with them. We’re participants in what they’re doing. That’s the unique part of a pastor’s task.

On the Importance of Living in Community:

The life of Christ is developed in community. And if we don’t enter the community ourselves, we abdicate our relational authority with our people. It’s a red flag when pastors don’t want to be with their people. There are many pastors in America who never visit their congregations. “That’s not my job,” they say. “That’s the elders’ job. That’s the deacons’ job.”  That’s pretty telling. If that’s your attitude, you’re not in community.

For the whole interview, click here

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