The Pastor: A Memoir

Eugene Peterson, the man who created The Message translation of the bible, wrote this book, reflecting back on his journey of being a pastor.

You know what was funny about this book?  I was reading it and thinking about what I would say if I were to write my own memoir.  But the thought crossed my mind at some point – my story is still unfolding.  I shouldn’t rush the journey …

None of us should.


“I want to give witness to this way of understanding pastor, a way that can’t be measured or counted, and often isn’t even noticed.  I didn’t notice for a long time.  I would like to provide dignity to this essentially modest and often obscure way of life in the kingdom of God.  Along the way, I want to insist that there is no blueprint on file for becoming a pastor.  In becoming one, I have found that it is a most context-specific way of life: the pastor’s emotional life, family life, experience in the faith, and aptitudes worked out in an actual congregation in the neighborhood in which she or he lives – these people just as they are, in thisplace.  No copying.  No trying to be successful.  The ways in which the vocation of pastor is conceived, develops, and comes to birth is unique to each pastor.”

“Pastor: not something added on to or imposed on who I am; it was there all along.  But it was not linear – no straight-line development.  Seemingly unconnected, haphazard events and people turned out to be organic to who I am.”

“How did God bring our Savior into our history?  We have the story of what he could have done but didn’t.  God could have sent his son into the world to turn all the stones into bread and solve the hunger problem worldwide.  He didn’t do it.  He could have sent Jesus on tour through Palestine, filling in turn the seven grand amphitheaters and hippodromes built by Herod and amazing everyone with supernatural circus performances, impressing the crowds with Super-God in action.  He didn’t do it.  He could have set Jesus up to take over governing the world – no more warn, no more injustice, no more crime.  He didn’t do it.  We also have the story of what he, in fact, did do.  He gave us the miracle of Jesus, but a miracle in the form of a helpless infant born in poverty in a dangerous place with neither understanding nor support from the political, religious, or cultural surroundings.  Jesus never left that world he had been born into, that world of vulnerability, marginality, and poverty.”

“What people observe on Sunday is only the tip of the iceberg.  The harmonies and rhythms that give solidarity and weight to what everyone sees taking place in the sanctuary are slowly and incrementally formed in the ocean depths of the lives of both pastor and people.”

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