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Pastors need to become spiritual directors

I have a lot of empathy for youth pastors and pastors. Here are these people who have a huge heart for helping others to grow spiritually and they get put in a system that teaches them theology and saddles them with the administration of programs. It’s no wonder that they burn out as they do.I …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

I have a lot of empathy for youth pastors and pastors. Here are these people who have a huge heart for helping others to grow spiritually and they get put in a system that teaches them theology and saddles them with the administration of programs. It’s no wonder that they burn out as they do.

I like what Eugene Peterson, author of the Message, said about his experience as a pastor: “I am good at being a program-directing Messiah and manager.” (Under the Unpredictable Plant p. 178)

Peterson makes the point that because pastors have embraced a broken paradigm of the role of pastor, they need a paradigm shift – from pastor as program director to pastor as spiritual director. It is not “the formulation of something new,” he says, “but the recovery of something original.”

He goes on to say:

“The world of religion generates a huge market for meeting all the needs that didn’t get met in the shopping mall. Pastors are conspicuous in this religious market place and are expected to come up with the products that give customer satisfaction.

“Since the needs seem legitimate enough, we easily slip into the routines of merchandising moral advice and religious comfort. Before long we find that we are program directors in a flourishing business. We spend our time figuring out ways to attractively display god-products.

“We become skilled at pleasing the customers. Before we realize what has happened, the mystery and love and majesty of God, to say nothing of the tender and delicate subtleties of souls, are obliterated by the noise and frenzy of the religious marketplace.”
(Peterson pp. 174-175)

Check out Peterson’s books for more on this:

Comments (2)

  • Seth,
    I’m a youth pastor and I agree totally. So much of what I do is more about the program than the teens and adult leaders. Just wondering what would a typical work week look like for a spiritual director versus the way we do youth and church ministry now. I’d like to know what you or others think.
    On Fire for Christ,
    JON

  • pastor olanrwaju agusutine

    hello pastor. im benjamen im 25 yrs old i need ur prayer and support about our church our church need money to buy the land to foundation about and need help of people and minister of God pls pray and support and i pray that God we continue ministeries in jesus name amen and God we bless you and ur family in jesus. the name of our church is JESUS CHOSEN EVANGELICAL MINISTRIES INTL our pastor name pastor olanrewaju augustine if u dont understand our word call on this +2348089817499 or +2348029307017 or se

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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