General CBF

The Art of Pastoring

 My friend, Keith Herron, an artful pastor himself, reminded me of this remarkable quote by Eugene Peterson, from his book Subversive Spirituality, page 244. He discovered it again in a Door interview!

“Being a pastor is an incredibly good, wonderful work. It is one of the few places in our society where you can live a creative life. You live at the intersection of grace and mercy and sin and salvation. We have front line seats and sometimes we even get to be a part of the action. We are artists, not Chief Executive Officers. The true pastorate is a work of art – the art of life and spirit.”

It is my privilege to work with pastors. Continually I am amazed by the artistic ways in which they live at the intersection of grace and mercy and sin and salvation. Not a days goes by that they could not tell you more about the rough and tumble of the real life they experience with the good folk they serve. It has far more range, both high and low, than you might ever imagine. They may grow weary of well doing, but it seems to me that time and time again I am amazed by the quiet courage and resilience pastors exhibit by being there.

Frequently I am asked if I miss the pastorate. Yes, of course! It is quite different to sit at the table on Wednesday night and glance across the room to see the Pastor sitting at a table with a group of young people or an older couple or that individual who was simply there alone. I find myself watching her smile and engage first with one person or another. The other day I saw a member of the congregation stop behind her and lean to her ear and whisper a word. It must have been a heavy word. Her brow reflected deep concern. She took the hand of the person, a moment of shared grief, worry, and regret, obviously about the brief word he had laid on her. Then that one person made his way through the hall to another table where he was received warmly. To the room it may have seemed to be only a brief, casual exchanged. But it seemed to be otherwise, and that most likely has considerable range to it. After he left, the pastor turned and picked up the conversation with those at her table as if nothing had happened. Oh, the steadiness and the gracefulness of her presence. I grateful for the art of her life and spirit. She’s a good pastor.

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