A couple of weeks ago, I posted an initial review of Eugene Peterson's memoir, The Pastor. I have finally finished it and absolutely loved it. While I am not in the role of professional clergy, this book hit home to me. If you want to know what my heart is as a psychologist and where I find meaning in life, read this book.
Peterson's book is a perfect example of how amazing of a writer he is. His prose becomes beautifully poetic (and I'm one who generally dislikes poems) with vivid imagery. In the afterward, a letter to a young pastor, he stated that he does not feel like he is a pastor of great achievement. While he did translate The Message Bible and has written many books, I got the sense from reading this that he is not your typical uber-famous Christian who has met the world's standards of success.
Yes, Peterson has had some of that, but he writes not to be famous, but because that is his love and passion. In fact, his personal testimony about the development of The Message makes me love and appreciate it all the more.
But returning to his pastoral work, this is where he finds his primary identity, with the writing elements being more of a supplement to that work. As a pastor, he led a flock of about 500 by the time he left. That's large compared to many institutions, but quite modest compared to those congregations of the best selling authors. And Peterson seemed to have no problem with the size. In fact, he indicated that he didn't want it bigger. He was satisfied with his work, and it showed through his heart and the true, lasting transformation that occurred in his community.
As a psychologist who definitely can be tempted by trying to achieve widespread notoriety, this tome reminded me of the power of daily, incarnational work that we all do on a daily basis. Our daily relationships and connections are what counts. Peterson knows that and lived it. And I have been blessed by his testimony of that life.