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September 8, 2008

Picked up a book today, just to read a chapter, and just “happened” to read a chapter dealing with accepting the gift of God’s rest, or Sabbath. It was a great reminder, and stung a bit, as it pointed out that one of the main reasons I am not accepting the gift is because I don’t trust that God can take care of it for me, and that I am trying to be god.

Like a good boxing match, I was recovering from that left jab to the nose, and got nailed with a right upper-cut. I think I’m still on the ground…. I was perusing my weekly blogs, checking for good articles, and, lo and behold, this one came at me… It’s directed at Pastors, and I took it as talking to me specifically, but we all could use a good upper-cut every now and then….

Busy Pastors… or sinful pastors?

“‘The poor man,’ we say.’He’s so devoted to his flock; the work is endless, and he sacrifices himself so unstintingly.’ But the word busy is the symptom not of commitment but of betrayal. It is not devotion but defection. The adjective busy set as a modifier to pastor should sound to our ears like adulterous to characterize a wife or embezzling to describe a banker. It is an outrageous scandal, a blasphemous affront.

Hilary of Tours diagnosed our pastoral busyness as irreligiosa sollicitudo pro Deo, a blasphemous anxiety to do God’s work for him. 


I (and most pastors, I believe) become busy for two reasons; both are ignoble.


I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself- and to all who will notice- that I am important…


I am busy because I am lazy. I indolently let others decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself. I let people who do not understand the work of pastor write the agenda for my day’s work because I am too slipshod to write it myself…

… we find ourselves frantically, at the last minute, trying to satisfy a half dozen different demands on our time, none of which is essential to our vocation, to stave off the disaster of disappointing someone.


But if I vainly crowd my day with conspicuous activity or let others fill my day with imperious demands, I don’t have time to do my proper work, the work to which I have been called. How can I lead people into the quiet place beside still waters if I am in perpetual motion? How can I persuade a person to live by faith and not works if I have to juggle my schedule constantly to make everything fit into place?”


– Eugene Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor


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