. of view

Earl Marshall

The Unbusy Pastor

Peterson calls busy "a symptom not of commitment but of betrayal".  Used in conjunction with pastor "it is an outrageous scandal" (page 17).  For the most part I agree with his assessment.

I confess that the pastoral busyness (amount of activity and a state of hurriedness) in my schedule is my own problem.  I admit to a sense of vanity, yes I even think the song is about me sometimes.  Who doesn’t want to feel important and what better way to be important than to let people think you are busy?  It is at times the merit badge that I wear.  Seems to be the same for some of my colleagues but I should let them speak for themselves.  I am not as sure about being busy because I am lazy.  I believe, as I noted in my previous posting, my problem is more confusion than laziness.  I don’t sense in my church context that I have the problem of having others define for me what I should be doing as much as me wondering what I should be doing.

Peterson suggests three significant things that a pastor should do.  Praying that is cultivated from the "deliberate withdrawal from the noise of the day" (page 20).  Preaching, "speak the Word of God that is Scripture in the language and rhythms of the people I live with" (page 20), that comes from hours of reflection, immersion, and drenching in Scripture . . . much more than what comes from preparing a sermon.  Listening to others, that comes from an unhurried leisure, a quality of spirit (page 21).

And all of this sounds so amazing.  Throw in a tall lemonade, sunshine, and a beach chair and I am in!

Is Peterson’s suggestion reasonable?  While different church cultures and contexts, and a person’s giftedness/personality/etc. will impact the expansion of the BIG THREE (like leadership related functions) I am growing in my conviction that Peterson is more right than delusional.  Some may not feel they have the freedom to fill their hours with the BIG THREE but we do a greater service for the Kingdom if we dialogue with those we must for this freedom.  I am fortunate that I belong to a church leadership team that is trying to understand along with me what kind of pastor-leader God wants.  I confess that in my few moments of clarity I find that I may be the one who is slowest to embrace what needs to be done. 

I love Peterson’s practical solution of scheduling unbusyness . . . what a fantastic oxymoron.  Now if I can just do that while letting everyone else think I am still busy . . . just kidding, sort of.   



  1. “Throw in a tall lemonade, sunshine, and a beach chair and I am in!”…and he’s funny too! I guess it’s all about understanding for yourself (and for that matter others) the importance of the big three. I support Peterson’s view.

  2. Try doing this as a solo pastor wearing the multiple hats…Peterson’s is the ideal…not sure it’s too real 🙂

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