Reflections from a Visit With Eugene Peterson

I just spent a couple of days in Montana at the home of Eugene Peterson, talking about church and our call as pastors. The conversation was filmed in his pastoral study overlooking Flathead Lake for our upcoming New Life Leadership Conference. Spending time with Pastor Eugene and his wife Jan was a real joy and I drove away from their home with several thoughts.

1. We need more spiritual grandfathers.

Pastor Eugene will be 80 later this year and most of his adult life has been spent in relative obscurity as pastor of a Presbyterian church he planted in suburban Baltimore. He is finishing the race really well and his wisdom and integrity are evident in his words and actions. We need to hear the stories of more men and women who have served so faithfully. We must seek them out, linger with them and hear about their struggles, their fears and their victories. The Abraham generation has a lot to teach those of us who are in the Isaac and Jacob stage of ministry.

2. Hospitality is powerful.

Pastor Eugene and Jan welcomed us into their home. They admitted that age and fatigue does not allow them to extend as much hospitality as days past, but they genuinely welcomed us. We ate meals at local restaurants and stayed overnight at a nearby B&B, but the time in their living room and on their back deck were powerful reminders that all of us need to open our homes more often to unhurried conversations.

3. We have more in common than not.

Pastor Eugene is from a different generation and his pastoral challenges were not always the same as ours today. He laughed when I asked him about worship bands, light shows, smoke machines and other potential distractions to our worship. What we do have in common is our love for the local church, a real desire to see people learn to listen and pray and a tenacity to teach the continuously articulate Scriptures. Some things transfer naturally from one generation to another.

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  1. Peterson is awesome.

  2. Wow, these three points are very powerful. My husband and I have discussed point #1 and #3 many times between ourselves as we talk about changes we have noticed in the church while growing up, and now being in full time ministry.
    I love your point, “We must seek them out and linger with them.” That reflects a desire of our heart, to learn from those that have gone before us.
    Looking forward to hearing the full teaching at the conference.

  3. Beautifully stated, Brady. It impacted me. Thank you.

    My dad’s 82nd birthday is today. Mom and Dad’s 62nd anniversary is tomorrow. Their 3000 sq ft, 2-story home flooded due to a plumbing malfunction 2 months ago, so they have been living in a hotel while all of the carpet, tile, sheetrock, etc has been replaced. They get to start moving back home this weekend. Quite an ordeal for them at their age. I’ve been toying with the idea of going home to help them…

    After reading your blog, I booked a flight to go spend 4 days with them.

    Although we won’t talk about church leadership or fog machines, I will savor every story as we move all of their treasured possessions and memorabilia back into place.

    I’ll tell them all about Daniel’s message this Sunday morning, and I’ll thank them for working hard, loving each other, and living life well so that I and my seed can take pleasure in the sacred calling of Pastor.


  4. katherine walton

    August 11, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Hello Pastor Brady,

    Thankyou for the post. I was blessed and so moved by Becky’s post that I had to write. Aug 9th was my husband and my dad’s birthday. The past 23 years they shared birthday celebrations during our time here in CO. This past Thurs. my daughter and I shared time at Dean’s gravesite to hear the song of birds, and to behold the beauty and vastness of the blue sky and the mountains at the USAFA cemetery. After tears, reading, prayer and a walk through the ponderosa’s we silently left and ran several errands in our crash home improvement series before Cait leaves for Malaysia. That evening my family gathered at The Broadmoor to celebrate my dad’s 77th birthday, just across the street from where Dean and I shared wedding vows at Pauline Chapel 30 years ago. My parents have been married 55 years, and are leaving us such a legacy.

    As I took photo’s I was so moved by the endearing look of my dad towards my mom and the way he grabbed her hand as if to once again say “Until death do we part.” In your blog you spoke of Eugene Peterson and his wife, and it so blessed me to hear of their marriage and their partnership in serving those that the LORD brings to them.

    I want to honor my dad, Dean’s dad, fathers and grandfathers in the faith…..Many that have personally spoken into my life……I am blessed to have so many grounded and faithful grandfathers in my life.


  5. I was referred to your site by my uncle, he told me about a blog post that really touched his heart. I must say after reading what you said about how hospitality is powerful, I am also touched. We need more people like you getting GOD’S Message out.

    Thanks and have a blessed day

  6. I asked this question and you deleted it….so I’ll ask again:
    – what is your knowledge about and position on the “emergent church” movement? Do you believe that the scriptures are the inerrant word of God? Do you feel you need to create an environment that is seeker sensitive in your church or do you preach sin, righteousness, and judgement and repentance? I attended and listed to you for about 1 year and never hear these things in your preaching…rather…like a small pebble in my shoe, I sensed through the Holy Spirit that there was a large portion of “flesh” in your preaching vs. dependency on the Word to do it’s own work….I will appreciate your response unless you delete my questions again.

    • I will be happy to meet and talk about this. This is too big of a question to answer online. I will be back in the office in September. Come see me.

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