[Don’t cheat. Think about the question!]
I’ve just finished Eugene Peterson’s classic work, Working the Angles, and I’m personally challenged. Peterson claims the tools of pastoral ministry – the timeless tools – are Prayer, Scripture, and Spiritual Direction. These are the essentials. How do these line up with what you named, or, if you’re involved in ministry, what you DO? I find myself asking, “Eugene, what about fundraising, chairing committees, recruiting leaders, making videos and PowerPoint presentations?”
I’m trying to strike a balance in my own life and realizing that it’s up to ME to cultivate the essentials. It’s too easy to get caught up in the other tasks. It’s up to ME to keep what’s important, important. It’s too easy to busy myself with the tasks that have a beginning and end, that can be measured. The three tools Peterson speaks of can’t be quantified. How much prayer is enough? How much time in the Word is enough? Have I spent enough time with people? These three tasks – prayer, reading, and direction – have no end.
But what challenged me the most is how profoundly simple these 3 tools really are. Prayer. Scripture. Spiritual Direction. As a pastor, if I’m not about these things, then what am I doing? If I’m not spending my “work” time doing these hard to quantify acts, then what am I doing? How many of you reading would feel or have felt guilty putting your computer away to spend time in Scripture or in prayer while at work?
Hopefully you’ve hung on and read the entire post, even if you’re not a pastor. Why? Because these 3 “tools” are not sanctioned for those in pastoral ministry alone. These are for all who identify as Christian. Scripture, Prayer, and Spiritual Direction. Yes, pastors have a specific calling, or as Peterson says, “The pastor’s responsibility is to keep the community attentive to God. “ The pastor, in his/her reading, praying, and directing is to be pointing the community back to reading, praying, and directing. However, all of us who claim to be in relationship with Christ are called to prayer, reading of Scripture, and spiritual direction.
So, what did you think? If you examined your life, what are the “tools” of faith are you relying on the most? What are the roles of Prayer, Scripture, and Spiritual Direction in your life?