Pastors and Prayer…
“It is possible to do pastoral work to the satisfaction of the people who judge our competence and pay our salaries without being either diligent or skilled in [prayer, reading scripture and giving spiritual direction]. Since almost never does anyone notice whether we do these things or not, and only occasionally does someone ask that we do them, these three acts of ministry suffer widespread neglect.” (page 3)
“The implication for pastoral work is plain. It begins in prayer. Anything creative, anything powerful, anything Biblical, insofar as we are participants in it, originates in prayer. Pastors who imitate the preaching and moral action of the prophets without also imitating the prophets deep praying and worship so evident in the psalms are an embarrassment to the faith and an encumbrance on the church.” (page 40)
Eugene Peterson’s book “Working the Angles” is one of those books that I need to read at least once a year to remind myself of what it means to be a pastor. The first time I read it I actually felt physically ill because I was so convicted. I am the least of all pastors to be saying this but its high time the bunch of us stood up and stopped getting distracted from the vital aspects of pastoral ministry that Peterson slaps us around about. Prayer. Reading Scripture. Spiritual Direction.
I mean come on, how many of us can really say that we have engaged these vital activities well? And we’re seriously wondering why our churches aren’t making a difference? Okay, we talk about how our churches are making a difference and I am sure they are on some level. But still, I get the feeling that all of us “missional” folk all better get our collective heads out of our butts and stop talking so much about being the people of God and actually be the people of God (I am sure it goes beyond missional folks, but I’ll just speak to my circle).
We’re all really good at talking a good game. You know the saying, “those who can’t do, coach.” Well, maybe this should be one for us, “Those who can’t do, blog and sit around in rooms talking all the time about what we’re doing even though we never really do anything.”
I for one am ready to throw my hands up in the air and say, “Okay God. I’ve got a ton of great thoughts about what it means to be the church and what it means to pastor and lead people and some ambitious ideas about how to reach our culture. But honestly, I have no clue what I am doing. I give up having all the answers. I give up thinking I can figure this thing out myself. I want to humbly come to you in constant prayer to understand what you are doing in this world and how I and my church my participate in it.”
I am not really sure what set off this rant. Perhaps its my own failings and I am simply showing my true colors here. Perhaps it applies only to me. Perhaps all of you out there have a vibrant prayer life that continually submits your plans to those of the Father.
Perhaps everything I have just written makes no sense and I won’t agree with it in a few days. But, it just came out so deal with it.
Update: Its been a few days and I still agree with this. In fact, I am more convinced that I’m not the only “prayer derelict pastor” out there. I am not going on a crusade to change the world however. What I am doing is starting where I can, with myself and a few other pastors. Thanks for your prayers…