Eugene Peterson said, “damn.”

I can’t believe it, Eugene Peterson said “damn” in an interview for Leadership Journal. I also can’t believe that the editors left it in, but I’m glad they did because I think the context warranted the word. The interview focused on Lectio Divina, the ancient practice of meditating on the scriptures. Peterson is discussing the need for pastors to slow down, listen, and be more reflective, especially when, but not limited to those times when they approach the Bible. “…pastors simply have to quit being in such a damn big hurry. Pastors are the busiest people in the world, always making an appointment or rushing to a meeting. They have no time to listen. I think pastors are the worst listeners. We’re so used to speaking, teaching, giving answers. We must learn to be quiet, quit being so verbal, learn to pay attention to what’s going on, and listen.”

And then Peterson was asked: As you challenge pastors to slow down, listen, and reflect, what kind of responses are you getting? Peterson replied, “I know a significant number of pastors who have slowed down to really listen. But they made a deliberate choice to do it. I have one friend who just resigned from his 800 member church without another call. His criteria for accepting another church is that it must be less than one hundred members. There are pastors choosing this kind of life, but you don’t usually hear about them.”

Oh my gosh, did I hear him right? The pastor of an 800 member church leaves it to look for a church of 100? Instead of trading up he wanted to trade down…or maybe he really was trading up? And then the interviewer asks: Are smaller churches more conducive for pastors to foster listening lives? Listen to Peterson: “No. I think you can do it in any size congregation, but the pastor must want to do it. And he must be willing to set aside the time to do it.”

Leadership Journal comes out quarterly and is one of only two ministry magazines I read or recommend. This interview was found in the Winter 09 issue and is titled: Having ears, do you not hear? Visit

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