“…I want to insist that there is no blueprint on file for becoming a pastor. In becoming one, I have found that it is a most context-specific way of life:the pastor’s emotional life, family life, experience in the faith, and aptitudes worked out in an actual congregation in the neighborhood in which she or he lives – these people just as they are, in this place. No copying. No trying to be successful. The ways in which the vocation of pastor is conceived, develops and comes to birth is unique to each pastor.”
-Eugene Peterson from his new book just published The Pastor: A Memoir (HarperOne, 2011)
I think this quote alone is worth a million dollars. It is (and should be) freeing to know the process of becoming a pastor is highly individual to each person – each pastor is different and each pastor should feel free to be who they are and function in the role of pastor as God has called them and as is befitting with their own personalities and makeup. I don’t know if I can say any one pastor is better than another but to say some do “seem” to live out their callings as pastors more effectively than others.
But then again, if the process of a life lived as a pastor is unique, how can such a statement stand? What is considered effective? Who is considered a “good” or “bad” pastor? I think I can make such a statement because of a concept called “pastoral identity.” Some pastors reveal a strong and healthy pastoral identity (which is a kind of sense of security in one’s calling and vocation as a pastor) whereas, I know there are others who have more or less weaker senses of pastoral identity, they do not seem to be as comfortable with their calling or vocation (which could call into question the validity of such) – I would suggest those with stronger pastoral identities are “more effective” in their callings than those who are not primarily because they are not trying to be something they are not.
Seems to me that anyone who is a pastor should read this book and those struggling with their own sense of pastoral identity should seriously consider reading this other book by Peterson.
You can learn more about the book here.