Scot McKnight talks on his blog about Eugene’s Peterson’s last interview, given to Jonathan Merritt, on the important theme of ‘ending well’.
here is the beginning of it.
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Eugene Peterson is one of the best known theologians of our time. Most famous for penning The Message, a contemporary rendering of the Bible, he is also author of many popular books such as A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. With the release of his memoir, The Pastor, Peterson has begun reflecting on life and the ways in which Jesus-followers can respond to God’s call. Here, we discuss his unlikely call to ministry, the work of a pastor and what, if anything, he wishes he could change about The Message.
JM: In The Pastor, you describe your journey into ministry. How did you first sense God calling you into service?
EP: Well, I never really thought I’d be a pastor because I had so many pastors I didn’t respect. I just assumed I would be in academic work, so I started doing that—I went to seminary and graduate school to be a professor. And then I became a professor at the seminary in New York City where I graduated. But they didn’t pay me very much. Greek and Hebrew professors aren’t very high on the pay scale. So I got a part-time job in a church, because I had been ordained but just to be a professor. I’d never been around a pastor who was a man of God, to tell you the truth.
I was teaching Greek and Hebrew on Tuesdays and Thursdays and after awhile I did this for three years. But after the second year I thought, “Wow, the church is a lot more interesting than the classroom. There’s no ambiguity to Greek and Hebrew. It’s just right or wrong.” And in the church everything was going every which way all the time—dying, being born, divorces, kids running away. I suddenly realized that this is where I really got a sense of being involved and not just sitting on the sidelines as a spectator but being in the game. So I gradually reshaped my sense of what I was doing and became a pastor.
JM: With your experience in both the church and the academy, I wonder what advice you would give to young seminary students today. If you were asked by one to describe what is at the heart of the work of pastoring and shepherding, what would you say?
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