Final Reflection from Q Practices with Eugene Peterson

If you’d like to read my thoughts after Day One of Q Practices with Eugene Peterson, you can read here.

Day Two was today, and we covered Peterson’s views on Embodiment, Scripture, Community, and the Church.

Here are some reflections:

Jan Peterson was keepin' it real.

1) Hearing from Jan Peterson, Eugene’s wife, was a highlight
– I’m a firm believer that spouses keep it real, and I was excited when Jan was invited on stage to answer questions.  I was most moved when she talked about whether or not Eugene’s life with God was real…

Her response?

Absolutely.  She strongly reiterated how the person we hear on the pages of Eugene’s writings are really him.  She then talked about how she really respected how firm he was in not getting enticed by the trappings of fame and notoriety.

So cool.

And then Eugene shared some heartwarming stories about Jan and her hospitality, and it was all really quite wonderful.

I’m convinced that a long obedience in the same direction is not limited to one’s life with God, but also to one’s love and commitment to one’s spouse and family (and if single, one’s close family and friends).

The Peterson’s marriage was one of the best sermons of the day.

2) Pastors are to be local and relational – Peterson stressed this greatly, and even challenged the notion that Pastors are chiefly communicators.  Pastors are conversationalists, he said, people whose vocation is intricately tied to people.

This is such a great reminder for me as a church planter.

One of the reasons Tina and I chose Astoria for Hope is because we could be “local”.

It was so great to learn from Eugene Peterson for two days.

3) One of the things I most admire about Eugene Peterson is his clear sense of what he’s called to do… and not to do.  

Here are a couple of things he said which stood out to me.

First, he said, “I really haven’t done much.”

Second, he said, “I’m really not that busy.  Jan and I actually have quite a bit of leisure in our lives.”

I think there was a collective gasp (or maybe it was just me) when he said both these statements.

When I read Peterson’s bio and the list of books he’s written, I’m really stunned at his capacity.

But realistically, although it’s true that Peterson has some unique gifts, he’s human too.

And because he’s human, Eugene knows what he’s called to do, and therefore he also knows what NOT to do.

Throughout the day, I was struck by what he’s chosen not to do, including:

1) Jan spoke of speaking engagements Eugene has said no to (as well as celebrities).

2) Eugene spoke of giving up TV 30 or so years ago.

3) Eugene does not use social media.

4) When it came down to whether or not the church should expand after reaching capacity, Eugene knew he wasn’t the leader to take the church to the next level.  Sure enough, the next leader expanded the church missionally.

Part of Peterson’s “long obedience in the same direction” is a willingness to say “no” to many “good” opportunities.

In this way, Peterson has been able to have a laser-like focus in what he commits himself to.

He also mentioned that he simply does things that he loves, and so immersing himself in Scripture, writing, and pastoring, are all “loves” of his.  These loves have helped define what he has committed his life (and time) to.

4) I’m so excited about Hope.  I love our launch team, I love what we’re building, and I’m so excited about what God’s going to do!

5) There were a couple of “well-known” Christian leaders in the audience as learners. 

I didn’t get a chance to talk extensively to these folks (hence I won’t blog who they were), but I was greatly encouraged that there were a few nationally known American Christian leaders in the audience there to learn.

It was so cool and encouraging to see these folks learning, too.  It’s nice to know that we’re all on the journey and there’s always something new to learn.

6) I was so fortunate to be there, especially in Peterson’s advanced age. Being able to learn from Peterson in a small setting is a gift I do not take for granted.

Thank you so much, Q.  Thank you for caring about how to better serve and resource pastors and church planters like me – it’s much appreciated!

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