Eugene Peterson


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

Author Quotes

Like the sacramental use of water and bread and wine, friendship takes what's common in human experience and turns it into something holy.

Spiritual direction strikes me as pretentious in these circumstances, as if there were some expertise that can be acquired more or less on its own and then dispensed on demand.

The silence that makes it possible to hear God speak also makes it possible for us to hear the world's words for what they really are - tinny and unconvincing lies.

We live in a society that is in slavery. Maybe not institutionalized, but slavery, nonetheless. Freedom is on everyone’s lips. Freedom is announced and celebrated. But not many feel or act free. Evidence we live in a nation of complainers and a society of addicts. –

World is an atmosphere, a mood. It is nearly as hard for a sinner to recognize the worldÂ’s temptations as it is for a fish to discover impurities in the water. There is a sense, a feeling, that things arenÂ’t right, that the environment is not whole, but just what it is eludes analysis.

If we define the nature of our lives by the mistake of the moment or the defeat of the hour or the boredom of the day, we will define it wrongly. We need roots in the past to give obedience ballast and breadth; we need a vision of the future to give obedience direction and goal. There must be an organic unity between past and future lived in the present.

Ministry is a very confronting service. It does not allow people to live with illusions of immortality and wholeness. It keeps reminding others that they are mortal and broken, but also that with the recognition of this condition, liberation starts.

Spiritual formation is not something we master. ItÂ’s not something over which we have much, if any, control.

The story behind the writing of The Message (this was especially interesting to me).

We live in a time when everyoneÂ’s goal is to be perpetually healthy and constantly happy. If any one of us fails to live up to the standards that are advertised as normative, we are labeled as a problem to be solved, and a host of well-intentioned people rush to try out various cures on us.

Worship does not satisfy our hunger for God – it whets our appetite.

God is at the foundation and God is at the boundaries.

A community of faith flourishes when we view each other with this expectancy, wondering what God will do today in this one, that one.

God is not stingy – providing only for bare survival.

A sense of hurry in pastoral work disqualifies one for the work of conversation and prayer that develops relationships that meet personal needs. There are heavy demands put upon pastoral work, true; there is difficult work to be engaged in, yes. But the pastor must not be ‘busy.’… there must be a wide margin of leisure.

GodÂ’s children do different things. Some run away from it and pretend that the family doesnÂ’t exist. Some move out and get an apartment on their own from which they return to make occasional visits (or raids!), nearly always showing for the parties and bringing a gift to show that they really do hold the others in fond regard. And some would never dream of leaving but cause others to dream it for them, for they are always criticizing what is done and complaining that the others in the family are either ignoring or taking advantage of them. And some determine to find out what God has in mind by placing them in this community called a church, learn how to function in it harmoniously and joyously, and develop the maturity that is able to share and exchange GodÂ’s grace with those who might otherwise be viewed as nuisances.

All the persons of faith I know are sinners, doubters, uneven performers. We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us.

Have no fear about doing so, for we have a “warts-and-all” religion.

All the water in the oceans cannot sink a ship unless it gets inside. Nor can all the trouble in the world harm us unless it gets within us.

Help comes from the Creator, not from the creation.

Ambition seeks to make something cheap and tawdry, sweatily knocking together a Babel when we could be vacationing in Eden.

Hoping does not mean doing nothing. It is not fatalistic resignation. It means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions. It is not compelled to work away at keeping up appearances with a bogus spirituality. It is the opposite of desperate and panicky manipulations, of scurrying and worrying. And hoping is not dreaming. It is not spinning an illusion or fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain. It means a confident, alert expectation that God will do what he said he would do. It is imagination put in the harness of faith.

Another common way to avoid community is to turn the church into an institution. In the process, the church becomes less and less a community, that is, people who pay attention to each other, “brothers and sisters,” and more and more a collectivism of “contributing units.”

I have my doubts (that the schools will open on time). We have a law case out of Sojourner-Douglass, and at Chesapeake we have all kinds of issues.

But then it begins to develop a culture and language and hierarchy all its own. It becomes first a special interest, and then a specialization. That is what seems to be happening in the circles you are frequenting. I seriously doubt that it is a healthy (holy) line to be pursuing.

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