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.