“I think the besetting sin of pastors, maybe especially evangelical pastors, is impatience. We have a goal. We have a mission. We’re going to save the world. We’re going to evangelize everybody, and we’re going to do all this good stuff and fill our churches. This is wonderful. All the goals are right. But this is slow, slow work, this soul work, this bringing people into a life of obedience and love and joy before God.”

Eugene Petersen

Why are we impatient?…

Maybe because so much of what we do is about us…

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10 thoughts on “Impatience

  1. My objections keep turning back on me, so I’ve come up with 3 ways it’s about me. 1) I want to be a hero (what I initially read you as saying). 2) I can’t stand the pain (and loserness) of only saving a few. 3) Many shallow ‘salvations’ may not require me to push deeper and deeper into my own ‘life of obedience …’

  2. I’m not a pastor, but even ‘persnally’ I believe this fits.

    Moving to Margaret River I felt very clearly God told me what ‘direction’ things will be going…what he didn’t tell me was how slow a ball rolls!

    I think I tend to get way ahead of where God is at because I just want to ‘be there’ and yes, sometimes be able to say ‘look where ‘I’ got us. It is a good wake up call when I realise ‘I’ can’t get us anywhere!

  3. It’s an important question Hamo. I am with you.

    I would suggest that in a world that heavily encourages and celebrates “ladder climbing” and instant fame for doing nothing much, faster internet and microwave popcorn…we soon discover there is very little prominence in slow growth.

    On a slight tangent. I have been thinking through the recent bushfire tragedy and its significance and have been struck by the fact that, only 4 days on, rather than sitting in the grief of it all the media compulsion of “finding the fresh angle” has already sped us through to philosophical reflection over bureaucracy and whose to blame.

    While i understand some of this direction, there’s something of the speed which makes it more like a movie/soap-opera than real life.

    Another casualty of an impatient world or have i missed the mark?

  4. Hi Hamo

    You’ve hit the nail on the head here Hamo. If you’ve read much from The Crowded House in the UK and from Paul Tripp and his colleagues in the US, you’ll be familiar with the concept of all of our behaviours being determined by ‘issues of the heart’. The more I read about leadership and the more I see how leaders decide to ‘lead’, even the theological stance on leadership they choose, the more convinced I become that there are HUGE ‘issues of the heart’ at play which need to be lovingly dealt with. Unfortunately, its these same leaders who usually set the agenda on teaching, etc and somehow the overlap between issues of the heart and leadership just seems to never quite rise to the top of the agenda…

    Have you ever heard a sermon on Matthew 20:25-26 about authority and not ‘lording it over ‘ fellow believers? I’ve been a Christian for almost 30 years and I can’t remember more than a cursory mention of this, or related, passages. Is this a case of ‘turkeys not voting for Christmas’?

  5. It’s true …. but, I think there is another side to this.

    I think we really are in a time of flux, where the things we are doing now are probably going to be fully realised only by future generations. But I also think there is a tendency to procrastinate when it comes to implementing change.

    While the on-going, sleeves rolled up, hard slog of developing relationships and building community and impacting the world around us with the gospel is undoubtedly not fast work, the changes that need to be implemented to do this effectively – even over the long term – need to happen sometime, and now, IMO, is as good a time as any.

    Personally, I’ tired of hearing “I don’t think we’re quite ready for that”!

  6. A hearty amen to that quote.

    While I greatly respect many Christian leaders, I often felt pushed into things when I clearly wasn’t ready or wasn’t suited for it. There is a lot of pressure on young Christians to become leaders and quickly and I know some who have left the church because they couldn’t handle the burden of expectation.

  7. I think the issue revolves around two points.

    1. It is all about us. Our efforts, plans and desires.

    2. The church has become so infected by business culture that we drive our programs like any corporation would do.

  8. “I think the besetting sin of pastors, maybe especially evangelical pastors, is impatience.”

    Or, maybe they are trying to operate and maintain a model called “ministry” that has no New Testament parallel.

    What you describe sounds very much like the hard working Church Epesus described in Revelation – but the eyes of Christ spy something lacking – love.

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