Family businesses have a very distinctive feel to them, and I understand something of what Peterson means when he talks about his dad’s butcher’s business. It’s not that he is applying a business model as such to the church, instead he the values that mattered to his dad contributed to the things that he was to value as a Pastor. What his father treasured, and which were an influence on Peterson was the right use of the tools of the trade, the meat they sold and the customers they served.
Peterson is contemptuous, if I dare to use such a harsh word, of those who are contemptuous of the tools of their trade and the meat itself. He derogatively describes those who neither keep their knives sharp or respect the grain of the cut as ‘hackers’. He is horrified by how these ‘butchers’ have butchered the respect of their customers by treating them merely as nameless faces who they sell a product to, instead of a name that describes not just their needs as a family but their circumstances too.
If you have read any of Peterson’s books you quickly discover how deeply the lessons learned amongst the sawdust and the shavings permeated his understanding of Pastors and pastoral ministry.
Like an Old Testament prophet he is equally contemptuous of those who hack the scriptures into cuts with no respect for either the grain of Scripture itself or those who will receive it. He is derogatory of those who take the name ‘Pastor’ but turn it inside out and upside down so that it may conform to their own dreams and aspirations. He is horrified by those who treat the church as merely a laboratory where they can experiment on the people with no regard or care for them or the community they serve.
I know that at a time when I was struggling to know who I was to be and what the nature and shape of ministry was, these words came to me as if from heaven itself. These words were not only a life saver, but they also became a compass that would guide me on my way in ministry.
Being invisible involves sharpening the tools of ministry I have been entrusted with. To be invisible is to wisely use the time to grow in clarity and understanding of both the Gospel and Scripture. It is to continually treasure and be in awe of the community I serve and who the Spirit delights to dwell in. It is to remind myself that this is not my church, but Jesus’ and he call me to love, to care for, to feed and to lead her in the paths Jesus sets before us.