In addition to Jayber Crow, our Faculty Ministry Leadership Team is also reading Under the Unpredictable Plant by Eugene Peterson. I’m pretty excited about both this book, which uses the story of Jonah as a framework and its central idea of vocational holiness. If I had space and time, I would quote the entire introduction. Instead, here’s just a snippet.
Peterson begins by describing a crisis he faced when he was 30 years old (a symbolic age, by the way – it was the age when Hebrew priests traditionally began their service, and the age when Ezekiel and Jesus began their public ministries) and just a young pastor. He felt a chasm open between his life as a Christian and his life as a pastor, and Peterson, after a page or two, concludes that this chasm was not unique to him. One reason is the uncapitalized vocations of the pastorate.
Spiritual leadership vocations [pastors, missionaries, teachers, deacons, etc.] in America are badly undercapitalized. Far more activity is generated by them than there are resources to support them. The volume of business in religion far outruns the spiritual capital of its leaders. The initial consequence is that leaders substitute image for substance, satisfying the customer temporarily but only temporarily, on good days denying that there is any problem (easy to do, since business is so very good), on bad days hoping that someone will show up with an infusion of capital. No one is going to show up. The final consequence is bankruptcy. The bankruptcies are dismayingly frequent.