Thinking Out Loud

January 25, 2009

Eugene Peterson on the Difference Between Listening and Listening

Filed under: bible, Christianity, Church, God — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:24 pm

This appeared last week on the blog formerly known as Danno’s Dangerous Mind, now simply known as 12ddm.   He got it from a Christianity Today interview with Eugene Peterson:

clock-spiralIn the last class I taught at Regent, a young woman came up to me and was very irritated. “Dr. Peterson,” she said, “three times during the lecture you did not say anything for twenty seconds. I know because I timed you. I’m from Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, teachers go: Bang! Bang! Bang! I want my money’s worth.”

We’re going to have people like that, people who want very polished and efficient teaching. But when I see people in my congregation taking notes during the sermon, I stop and say, “Put your pencils away. I want you to listen. LISTEN to the Word of God. It’s not something for you to figure out; it’s something for you to respond to.”

It’s slow work, and pastors are not patient people.

I also found this quote interesting in light of the Michael Frost/Alan Hirsch book I mentioned last week, which has a chapter dealing the Hellenistic way of thinking vs. the Hebraic way of thinking; the western approach vs. the eastern approach.


  1. Very few people would question Eugene Peterson’s ability to make scripture accessible to today’s believers.

    Truly, his response warrants more than a passing thought.

    Teachers and pastors who are attempting to instruct believers would be well served by considering the “response” nature of our relationship to God.

    Believers should seek solitude as part of study, prayer, and decision making. The still small voice which can illuminate scripture or produce those “aha” moments need time.

    The maxim, “Silence is golden”, has been lost on the Boomer, post-boomer, and Gen X & Y groups.

    Roman catholicism offers its adherents “silent retreats”. If we wish to engage our Lord, there is one rule that we should adopt. We should use our ears twice as often as our mouth.

    Our relationships would be universally blessed if we listened more. Applying this rationale, our relationship with God can grow as we listen.

    Kudos to Dr. Peterson for teaching us in quiet times, too.

    Comment by stevecanuck — January 26, 2009 @ 12:15 pm

  2. I’m writing to request the permission to use clock-spiral.jpg in my currently unpublished manuscript, The Prophets of revolution: on the scope and depth of human thought.


    Comment by Scott — June 23, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

    • You’ll have to track down the originator of it. I don’t have that permission to grant.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — June 23, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

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