Eugene Peterson


American Pastor, Scholar, Author, and Poet, Gold Medallion Book Award Winner

Author Quotes

What does make a difference is the personal relationships that we create and develop.

IsnÂ’t it odd that pastors, who are responsible for interpreting the Scriptures, so much of which come in the form of poetry, have so little interest in poetry? Â… Words create. GodÂ’s word creates; our words can participate in creation.

Pastors are abandoning their posts, left and right, and at an alarming rate. They are not leaving their churches and getting other jobs. Congregations still pay their salaries. Their names still appear on the church stationary and they continue to appear in pulpits on Sundays. But they are abandoning their posts, their calling. They have gone whoring after other Gods. What they do with their time under the guise of pastoral ministry hasnÂ’t the remotest connection with what the churchÂ’s pastors have done for most of twenty centuries.

The danger that is a threat to obedience is that we should reduce Christian existence to ritually obeying a few commandments that are congenial to our temperament and convenient to our standard of living.

Too often we think of religion as a far-off, mysteriously run bureaucracy to which we apply for assistance when we feel the need. We go to a local branch office and direct the clerk (sometimes called a pastor) to fill out our order for God. If we thought about it for two consecutive minutes, we would not want it that way. If God is God at all, he must know more about our needs than we do.

When we see the other as GodÂ’s anointed, a priest to us, our relationships are profoundly affected.

It is a realization that what God wants from you and what you want from God are not going to be achieved by doing the same old things, thinking the same old thoughts.

Perseverance does not mean “perfection.” It means we do not quit when we find that we are not yet mature and there is a long journey still before us.

The experts in our society who offer to help us have a kind of general staff mentality from which massive, top-down solutions are issued to solve our problems. Then when solutions donÂ’t work, we get mired in the nothing-can-be-done swamp. We are first incited into being grandiose and then intimidated into being infantile. But there is another way, the plain way of quiet Christian humility. We need pruning. Cut back to our roots, we learn this psalm and discover the quietness of the weaned child, the tranquility of maturing trust. It is such a minute psalm that many have overlooked it, but for all its brevity and lack of pretense, it is essential. For every Christian encounters problems of growth and difficulties of development.

Two biblical designations for people of faith: disciple and pilgrim. Disciple (mathetes) says we are people who spend our lives apprenticed to our master. We are in a growing-learning relationship, always. We donÂ’t learn in a school, but at the work site of the craftsman. We seek not to acquire information about God but skills in faith.

When we sin and mess up our lives, we find that God doesn't go off and leave us- he enters into our trouble and saves us.

By setting the anguish out into the open and voicing it as a prayer, the psalm gives dignity to our suffering. It does not look on suffering as something slightly embarrassing that must be hushed up and locked in a closet (where it finally becomes a skeleton) because this sort of thing shouldnÂ’t happen to a real person of faith. And it doesnÂ’t treat it as a puzzle that must be explained, and therefore turn it over to theologians or philosophers to work out an answer. Suffering is set squarely, openly, passionately before God. It is acknowledged and expressed. It is described and lived.

I think generally we're heading in the right direction, but we still don't have enough seats for all these kids.

Classically, there are three ways in which humans try to find transcendence--religious meaning--apart from God as revealed through the cross of Jesus: through the ecstasy of alcohol and drugs, through the ecstasy of recreational sex, through the ecstasy of crowds. Church leaders frequently warn against the drugs and the sex, but at least, in America, almost never against the crowds.

I was astonished to learn in one of these best-selling books (on church life) that the size of my church parking lot had far more to do with how things fared in my congregation than my choice of texts in preaching. I was being lied to and I knew it.

Devotions are the discipline of being quiet and listening for what we donÂ’t hear in the streets, in the media, in the workplace.

I will not try to run my own life or the lives of others; that is God's business.

Exile (being where we don't want to be with people we don't want to be with) forces a decision: Will I focus my attention on what is wrong with the world and feel sorry for myself? Or will I focus my energies on how I can live at my best in this place I find myself?...I will do my best with what is here.

I wish him well. Now he can continue to pursue his dream of excellence in education.

Forgiveness is the last word. I take no interest in eliminating the tension between justice and forgiveness by taking justice off the table.

If a pastor is not in touch with joy, it will be difficult to preach or teach convincingly that the news is good.

Given our accustomed ways of surrounding the important events with attention-getting publicity and given the importance of this event thatÂ’s a big surprise. Bright lights and amplification are not accessories to spiritual formation.

If by spiritual direction you mean entering into a friendship with another person in which an awareness and responsiveness to God's Spirit in the everydayness of your life is cultivated, fine. Then why call in an awkward term like spiritual direction? Why not just friend?

God did not become a servant so that we could order him around.

If we are going to live adequately and maturely as the people of God, we need more data to work from than our experience can give us. We need other experiences, the community of experience of brothers and sisters in the church, the centuries of experience provided by our biblical ancestors. A Christian who has David in his bones, Jeremiah in his bloodstream, Paul in his fingertips and Christ in his heart will know how much and how little value to put on his own momentary feelings and the experience of the past week.

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American Pastor, Scholar, Author, and Poet, Gold Medallion Book Award Winner