The first quote that really struck me was this
The vocation of pastor has been replaced by the strategies of religious entrepreneurs with business plans. Any kind of continuity with pastors in times past is virtually non-existent. We are a generation that feels as if it is having to start out from scratch to figure out a way to represent and nurture this richly nuanced sand all-involving life of Christ in a country that "knew not Joseph." (p4)Peterson struck the nail on the head for me. In modern pastoral life there is no blueprint, only a fairly desperate making it up as you go along. This is my observation of others and my own experience. He quotes William Faulkner's bon mot in describing the experience of writing a book as being equally applicable to being a pastor:
It's like building a chicken coop in a high wind. You grab any board or shingle flying by or loose on the ground and you nail it down fast. (p6)This I think is one reason why this job feels so difficult. I have worked in construction, manufacturing, education, music and catering and never wondered in those jobs if I was doing the right thing. Sometimes I didn't do it right but there was never any doubt because there really is only one way to serve a salad, build a house or solder a circuit board. But as a pastor there are a million ways to spend your time and often it is deeply subjective. In any other context you have either a boss or a client to please and if they are happy then you have done it right. In the church you have a congregation full of people with differing ideas about what it means for your to be "their" pastor and all the while you know you are supposed to be working only for God but he is often not very vocal while these other voices are very insistent on being heard!
And this making things up as you go is hard for other leaders (lay leaders for want of a better expression) in the church to get their heads around. When I raise things that need to change the most common question is "what do other churches do" as if there is a right way to do it and we just need to copy it. But as Peterson writes "it is a most context specific way of life" (p5), what another church does no matter how successfully will not translate in the same way to another church with a different congregation, a different neighbourhood and a different pastor.
What do you think?