Monday, May 2, 2011

Peterson's Pity Party for Pastors

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



Two real covenant brothers consistently wrestle with me about sabbat.

They are convinced of my disobedience in failing to keep personal sabbat to honor Him and allow Him to refresh me.

They're right.

While my personal daily spiritual disciplines increase to enable availability/ability to meet the increasing demands of an increasingly high maintenance ministry in a Luther kinda way - praying for an hour on most days but for four or more on especially challenging ones - I don't take days off, never take off time for continuing education (though I'd really like to enroll in a HD maintenance crash course), and hardly ever use the vacation allotted to me; though I rationalize that by saying I play nine holes every now and then and usually more then than now, mount the pony to avoid seeing the shrink, and don't feel bad about seeing my Pennsylvania relatives once or twice a year for a few days because, uh, I can take calls on my cellular and answer e-mails on my laptop and...

Yeah, I'm guilty; and can't help myself.

While I need to go deeper in personal intimacy with Him via sabbat to honor Him and know Him better to make Him known better, I've become rather OCD about renunciation of self.

Of course, having been and continuing to be so selfish in so many ways, I've gotta lot of catching up to do in the...

But, again, yeah, they're right.

I just can't help myself.



Surprisingly, one of 'em suggested I read Peterson's The Pastor.

I say surprisingly because he knows my low regard for most pastors these days who seem to care more about pensions, perks, and popularity than the penitential/pastoral/prophetic call.

In other words, I just know too many pastors who are such wimps and cater, as Dylan sings, to wandering desires like errand boys for everybody but Jesus.

I don't see many cubs for the Lion of Judah.

Be that as it may be which will surely spark defensiveness and nasty notes from those paid to be holy, there are two other reasons why I didn't want to read it.

First, I'm tired of pastors who are always telling their flocks how hard it is to be a pastor and quoting other pastors in their sermons as if anybody really cares about 'em and stuff like that; reminding me of the local editor of a news rag who is always writing about her/his craft as the world turns and...

Parenthetically, I've been pathetically guilty of the sins catalogued in the previous sentence-paragraph.

What me worry?

Second, I confess a little jealousy in that he's outselling anything that I've ever written by about two trillion to one.

What me worry?

But the recommendation/direction came from a real covenant brother; and unlike posers, real covenant brothers pay attention to each other and wrestle with each and hang in with each other in a quest to know Him better and make Him known better.

Or something like that.

Anyway, I read it.

I was wrong.

He is right.

Peterson's book isn't a pity party for pastors.

Reading it is...sabbat.



Actually, except for book sales, fame, and vocational efficacy, I really, really, really identified with his descriptive and prescriptive metaphorical memories.

It's going to be a classic; and should be required reading for everyone who thinks she/he is called to the office; and it doesn't hurt for geezers like me to read it and remember why we felt called in the...

I don't find it especially challenging, convicting, or comforting.

I find it...honest; and with so many posers polluting the vocation, it's refreshing to read something about an authentic call to the penitential/pastoral/prophetic office.

Personally, I wish I read this long ago; especially the part about size [of church] not mattering as much as...and that part about Fosdick...and that letter to the young pastor...and those pages on being a least likely candidate for...and how he reminds me so much of Brother Lawrence without...and that...and...

I'm not going to cheat you of the tasty, nutritious, and energizing solid food on just about every page.

The Pastor could help revolutionize/regenerate a vocation that's lost touch with its...Founder.



BTW, our covenant group is discussing it for a few hours on Friday.

I recommend it to yours.

It would also be a good book for adult Sunday School classes to read because maybe, just maybe, prayerfully maybe, their pastors would then be encouraged/freed to be, uh, genuine undershepherds in keeping with the Good Shepherd.

Yeah, my brothers are right.

We need to be obedient; which includes seizing sabbat.

I need to be obedient and...


Blessings and Love!


Reformed Catholic said...

May I also recommend two books by the better PTS professor, Dr.Andrew Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry, and The Resurrection of Ministry.

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...

Absolutely, friend!

He's a fine Biblical/Reformed theologian; who is a gem amid the fiberglass in the PCUSA.

Blessings and Love!

Ken said...

It seems to me that YOU should get to define your sabbat. A close friend of mine in a previous church got rested and refreshed by mowing a large lawn using a walk behind power mower. There is no way that would define my sabbat. Another pastor I know took his sabbat to lead a youth choir in his churches. He loved doing it and it was not ‘work.’

I doubt that you would define ‘resting and refreshing’ for you is found in leading a church session meeting. Ha ha. BUT, I suspect your choice for rest and refreshment is well known to you and it is that which keeps you going. The idea that sabbat should be “do nothing” would be anything but refreshing to someone (ie., you!) who feels th e need to be ‘doing something’ or they are wasting precious time.

That being said, I do think that you owe God to be careful to provide whatever that something is. As a wise person once said, “if you don’t take care of yourself, who will?”

Go for it!