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Pray, Read and Talk. Could be better
on September 23, 2002
Eugene Peterson has been thinking about it for a long time and has some advice for pastors out there. Before he gives the advice, he has some words of criticism for them: they've been sucked into the world of "respected" professionals who let money or comfort dictate their career decisons (e.g. the ambulance-chasing lawyer, the salesman who tells you what you want to hear just so he gets the sale). He admonishes pastors who have a similar mentality and advises them to work on their prayer life (especially the Psalms), read the Bible with more fervor, and find a "spiritual counsleor"-- someone who can guide you towards a closer relationship with God.
Of course pastors need to read the Bible and pray! This is no new revelation! He did make me more interested in reading the Psalms, though. The section on "how to read" was not to my liking, either. The section on the importance of finding a spritiual mentor, however was quite interesting. Americans seem to have a fascination with Teddy Roosevelt-style "Rugged Individualism." This apparently carries over to the pastor who now thinks he has to be a strong leader of the church instead of realizing that Christ himself acted like a servent for us. He even humbled himself to wash his disciples feet and act as our "whipping boy"--taking a punishment that was rightfully ours as he died on the cross.
While I whole-heartedly say that Peterson's last section was the best, there are some good points to his first two sections. I already mentioned a new respect for the Psalms; in fact, the word "respect" is the key theme for most of Peterson's book. Respect the fact that, when you pray, you are talking to your Creator and Redeemer! Don't take that lightly! When you read the Bible, realize that it's your Creator and Redeemer talking with you! Don't read it lightly! That pretty much sums up Peterson's book.
Read the introduction to this at your library or bookstore. If you're really into the book after that, go ahead and buy it. Be warned, however, this is Peterson's best writing in "Working the Angles" and the prose kind of goes downhill from there.