Years of learning and unlearning

January 28, 2011

Eugene Peterson's new memoir, The Pastor, will be out in February (Century subscribers can read the excerpt from the book
in the February 8 issue.) If any pastor has claimed the vocation, it's
Peterson, who has grounded and inspired pastors for many years with books that
include Under the Unpredictable Plant
and The Contemplative Pastor. Peterson's
wisdom and confident delivery suggest someone who's always known himself and
been confident in his vocation.

But according to the book blurb, it was only after 29 years in the pulpit that Peterson came
to realize what being a pastor was really about. It wasn't, he realized, about the
number of people who filled his pews each week. Instead, it was about

paying attention and calling attention to "what is going on right
now" between men and women, with each other and with God. I want to give
witness to this way of understanding pastor. . . .I would like to provide
dignity to this essentially modest and often obscure way of life in the kingdom
of God.

When we respond to a call and enter a vocation, we don't
like to think that it will take this long for that vocation to form us--29
years and more. We wrestle with so many other questions--what we'll accomplish,
who we'll influence, how the denomination will appreciate us, how we'll balance
our career with that of a spouse and with a family, how we'll see our careers
progress. Even if we proceed with a fine-tuned sense of humility and are
willing to be taught, we can't really imagine needing an entire lifetime to
learn pastoring and--as Peterson says in the book--to unlearn things.

What about Peterson's insights for today's pastors? Do we
have a new set of challenges that makes Peterson an appreciated guide in all
things pastoral, an inspirational writer, yet perhaps not quite alert to the
technologies, tensions and pastorates of a new century?



I think Eugene Peterson's insights transcend time and are still valuable today even in light of new issues and technologies.

Unlearning is Better

In my perspective - unlearning is better, more powerful, more cleansing than learnng.

Insterestingly, I just recently wrote about this in the 'about me' seciton of my profile paperwork...I said..."0ver the years I've come to the realization that throughout my life I have been engaged not so much in a process of learning but have been engaged more-so in a process of un-learning. That God was asking me to learn how to let go, re-examine, un-learn basic concepts that had been placed upon me by parents, peers, and society as a whole."

The Potter & the Clay