Hello. I sure hope this time-travel/email-writing thing works. Of course since Al Gore invented the internet this probably won’t work. At least it’s worth a try.
I hope you have had a good week and that summer in Ohio isn’t too terrible. Of course, you’ve never known anything else other than hot, Midwestern summers so I’m sure you’re fine. We’ll address your geographical decision-making another time.
I wanted to write you today to urge you to pick up and regularly read a few books that you might have missed. I know others have said this way better than I am now but you will have to wait nine years before you can read that post and I’m trying to get a jump on this. Here’s the deal; run to your bookstore (or fire up Amazon) and buy a few Eugene Peterson books and read them. Every year. Once a year.
Here’s what you should start with:
- Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity
- A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
- The Contemplative Pastor
You need these books. They will help your soul understand the pastoral vocation. They will help you understand growth, sanctification, and how to serve people. They will call you give yourself to your most important relationship, God. Peterson will help you see through the fog of the “church-as-business” mindset that runs rampant through the church. He will encourage you to remember to read the Bible, pray, and disciple people.
Read these books often. They are that important. There are so many temptations away from the center of what is true pastoral ministry that these will be a compass-calibrator for you. Trust me on this, read Eugene. He’s not perfect but he knows the pastorate better than just about anybody else you know right now. He’s a good mentor to learn from.
Have a great day and pack a lunch a few days this week. Just because McDonald's, Arby’s, Burger King and Taco Bell are right across the street from your office doesn’t give you liberty to eat there every day. You’ll regret it ten years from now anyway. Trust me.
Your Older Self (Who Still Reads Eugene), Jeremy