Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

Peterson Ch. 2a: The Unbusy Pastor

Posted by flyingbk on 04/19/2016

busylife
We continue our series with a look at the first of three adjectives Peterson advocates: “unbusy.” He pulls no punches when it comes to stating his utter distaste for the word “busy”:
THE ONE piece of mail certain to go unread into my wastebasket basket is the letter addressed to the “busy pastor.” Not that the phrase doesn’t describe me at times, but I refuse to give my attention to someone who encourages what is worst in me.
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.

So tell us what you really think, Eugene… He writes that busy pastors are vain. He uses the example of a doctor; if we go see a doctor, and he’s chilling out and just reading a book, we will not conclude that he’s a competent doctor. But if there’s scores of people in the waiting room, we feel like we’re in the right place.

Such experiences affect me. I live in a society in which crowded schedules and harassed conditions are evidence of importance, so I develop a crowded schedule and harassed conditions.


This is especially the case in the New York/New Jersey area. For those of us who live here, we don’t just wear our busyness as a badge of honor, we wear it as THE badge of honor. There is no more preeminent medallion, whether we are investment bankers, lawyers, stay-at-home moms, and/or students. It’s a tried and true equation: Busyness = success. If you’re busy, you possess validity in people’s eyes. If you’re not, well…

Thus, there is ever the temptation for the pastor to appear busy. Consider that there are many people (including God-fearing, faithful churchgoers) who constantly ask, How do pastors spend their time? I’ve been asked that question, and it’s always tempting to immediately rattle off various to-dos and obligations. It doesn’t occur to me to mention that I spend time praying, thinking, and reading because that’s just not busy enough. If a pastor does not seem busy, he will be looked down upon, even by his more loyal supporters.

(Somewhat related: This really just happened at the Panera where I’m writing this. A worker came up to me and said that a customer was complaining that I had my feet up on the seat across from me. It’s one of those small private booths, and my shoes were off. See? It’s just not cool to relax.)

Peterson then writes that busy pastors are lazy. Lazy in that they don’t know how to prioritize, and therefore allow others to set the agenda for them. Therefore, they end up acceding to the manifold, scattered demands on their time. Which leads to two questions:

How can I lead people into the quiet place beside the still waters if I am in perpetual motion? How can I persuade a person to live by faith and not by works if I have to juggle my schedule constantly to make everything fit into place?

Piercing questions indeed. He provides three recommendations to put an end to this scandal and stem the tide of busyness. That’s for next week.

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I was delighted to read yesterday that the book Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick garnered the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. I chose read this book at the beginning of this year based on Tim Challies’ recommendation. It is ever urgent in our day and age to understand the origins and philosophy of ISIS, and Warrick’s book is the perfect place for anyone to begin. He crafts the just-right blend of character development, punchy narrative, and even occasional levity and irony. It’s eminently readable (I finished it in less than 4 days), and he’s equally tough on both the Bush and Obama administrations. The Pulitzer is well-deserved.

I certainly plan on the reading the Pulitzer longform winners.

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On a lighter note, THORRRRR, I mean Noah Syndergaard (whom I wrote about last week) was once again dominant in the Mets’ win over the Phillies last night. Here are some ridiculous bits of info:
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Um…is that good company?
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Just an overflowing cornucopia of pitching goodness.
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So Thor throws 100 mph, and is yet able to locate it on the edges. Goodness gracious. And on that note, finish your journey with the 2nd GIF in on this page. Good night, everybody.

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2 Responses to “Peterson Ch. 2a: The Unbusy Pastor”

  1. […] « Peterson Ch. 2a: The Unbusy Pastor […]

  2. […] a “scandal,” in Peterson’s word, that pastors are busy. He provides three prescriptions to become unbusy. These are certainly three things in which I can […]

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