I am not a novel reader by practice, but I know it’d be good for my soul. So, in an effort to cultivate, I recently picked up a book that a good friend, lover of literature, fantastic wife/mommy, and gifted writer (check out her blog here) gave me many moons ago. The book is called Peace Like a River by Leif Enger and, so far, it’s been grand.
I’m not going to give a summary of the book (you can find that here), but I do want to share a snippet that I found relevant for me as a pastor. As I was savoring its pages yesterday, I was cut to the heart and even driven to tears by Reuben’s (the narrating voice of the book) description of his new pastor in comparison with his old.
Our new minister wasn’t half the exciting preacher our old one was. Pastor Reach was slight, with a limp and a speech problem that altered some of his consonants…I had been use to oratory; our former pastor could exhort like everything and owned what Dad said must be a special edition of the Holy Bible, for it contained things omitted from our own – references to card playing, for example, and rock and roll, and the Russian people. Our former minister had so much energy that simply pastoring wasn’t enough; he also wrote regular editorials for the paper…which riled up readers and made him a star.
Pastor Reach has no such ambitions. He had a wife, Eunice, who played the piano and whom I’d once overheard praying aloud that the “fig tree might blossom.” He had a plain Bible, like ours, and preached right out of it. Always regretful of his sinful nature, Pastor Reach was a great advocate of forgiveness, in which he put a lot of stock. Thrilling he was not. (pp. 27-28.)
I know, it’s not a powerful or emotionally packed passage for most, but for this pastor’s heart it is. With all the various models offered me in the world of pastoring – the CEO, the Guru, the Entrepreneur, the Orator, etc. – I’ll take Pastor Reach any day.
Could there be more than this? Surely. Having an influence outside one’s local church for the gospel is nothing to scoff at. However, no matter what plans God has for my service to His bride, I never want to graduate from those beautiful marks: a simple pastor who teaches his Bible, is humble in his heart, and “a great advocate of forgiveness.”