just one (or maybe three) more snippet from eugene peterson’s memoir, “the pastor.”
You are at your pastoral best when you are not noticed. To keep this vocation healthy requires constant self-negation, getting outof the way. A certin blessed anonymity is inherent in pastoral work. For pastors, being noticed easily develops into wanting to be noticed. Many years earlier, a pastor friend told me that the pastor ego “has the reek of disease about it, the relentless smell of the self.” I’ve never forgotten that.
this axiom seems so incredibly simple. after all, jesus himself said “the greatest among you will be your servant. for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (matthew 23:11-12).
not a whole lot of equivocation there.
and yet most pastors i know (myself included) get sucked in to the idea that a “successful pastor” (i’m still not sure what that means) must be highly visible. while i may not reject it out of hand, that attitude is a little scary to me because it is a short step from there to “i merit high visibility…i’m just that good.”
peterson calls it “the reek of disease.”
i thank god for men in my life who have committed to watch my life, and to tell me the what they see. ruthlessly and honestly. while they are way too kind to me, i can’t imagine what i’d be without them in my life. they help me practice “self-negation.”
but it’s not easy. i love me some me.