From The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson. Excerpt originally published at YouthWorker.com.
‘As a congregation, we had achieved critical mass, we were self-supporting financially, we had built a sanctuary that gave visibility to our worshipping presence in the neighborhood. It was the beginning of what I earlier called the badlands era in which the euphoria of establishing a church had gone flat,the adrenaline of being involved in a challenging enterprise had drained out. I had worked hard for those three years. The congregation had worked hard. We couldn’t sustain it.
Except that I tried. I formed committees. I made home visits. Longer hours. A longer workweek. Just a few years previous to this, Roger Bannister, the first 4-minute miler, wrote his autobiography in which he described life following his high-profile athletic celebrity. He wasn’t breaking records anymore.He compensated by working harder and harder. He described himself as a carpenter who “made up for his lack of skill by using a lot of nails.” That was me. I had tried to slow down. I had tried to relax, but I was afraid of failing. I couldn’t help myself.
One evening after supper, Karen—she was 5years old at the time—asked me to read her a story. I said, “I’m sorry, Karen, but I have a meeting tonight.” “This is the 27th night in a row you have had a meeting.” She had been keeping track, counting.
The meeting I had to go to was with the church’s elders, the ruling body of the congregation. In the 7-minute walk to the church on the way to the meeting I made a decision. If succeeding as a pastor meant failing as a parent, I was already a failed pastor. I would resign that very night.Continue reading