84 Eugene H. Peterson Quotes from the American Presbyterian Minister

Eugene H. Peterson was an esteemed American Presbyterian minister, theologian and author.

Born in Washington and raised in Montana, he penned over 30 books, most notably “The Message,” a modern rendition of the Bible.

He founded the Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Maryland, guiding it for nearly three decades.

Peterson’s educational accolades span from Seattle Pacific to Johns Hopkins University.

Eugene H. Peterson

He later became a spiritual theology professor at Vancouver’s Regent College. Known globally for his spiritual writings, he even bonded with U2’s Bono over the Psalms.

He lived a full life, marrying Jan Stubbs and fathering three children.

Below are some of the best quotes by Eugene Peterson.

Best Eugene H. Peterson Quotes


It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.


An honest answer is like a warm hug. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.


God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.


Real faith is refined in the fires and storms of pain. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.


Isn’t it interesting that all of the biblical prophets and psalmists were poets? ~ Eugene H. Peterson.


Stories are verbal acts of hospitality. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Worship does not satisfy our hunger for God; it whets our appetite. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

The task of the prophet is not to smooth things over but to make things right. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.


Pastors are highly susceptible to the sin of sloth. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

I don’t want to end up a bureaucrat in the time-management business for God or a librarian cataloging timeless truths. Salvation is kicking in the womb of creation right now, any time now. Pay attention. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Like the sacramental use of water and bread and wine, friendship takes what’s common in human experience and turns it into something holy. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

We’ve all met a certain type of spiritual person. She’s a wonderful person. She loves the Lord. She prays and reads the Bible all the time. But all she thinks about is herself. She’s not a selfish person. But she’s always at the center of everything she’s doing. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.


The life of faith is a daily exploration of the constant and countless ways in which God’s grace and love are experienced. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

When we submit our lives to what we read in scripture, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s. God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Famous Eugene H. Peterson Quotes

That’s the whole spiritual life. It’s learning how to die. And as you learn how to die, you start losing all your illusions, and you start being capable now of true intimacy and love. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Church is the textured context in which we grow up in Christ to maturity. But church is difficult. Sooner or later, though, if we are serious about growing up in Christ, we have to deal with church. I say sooner. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

We underestimate God and we overestimate evil. We don’t see what God is doing and conclude that he is doing nothing. We see everything that evil is doing and think it is in control of everyone. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Pastors need to know what’s going on in the world and what has been going on for 4,000 years. We need a way to read Scripture which is imaginative, interpretive. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.


Neither the adventure of goodness nor the pursuit of righteousness gets headlines. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

A Christian congregation is a company of praying men and women who gather, usually on Sundays, for worship, who then go into the world as salt and light. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

In high school I was very much involved in poetry. You cannot read a poem quickly. There’s too much going on there. There are rhythms and alliterations. You have to read poetry slow, slow, slow to absorb it all. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Scripture knows nothing of a solitary Christian. People of faith are always members of a community. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Sabbath is that uncluttered time and space in which we can distance ourselves from our own activities enough to see what God is doing. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.


Wisdom is the art of living skillfully in whatever actual conditions we find ourselves. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

It is easier to find guides, someone to tell you what to do, than someone to be with you in a discerning, prayerful companionship as you work it out yourself. This is what spiritual direction is. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Top Eugene H. Peterson Quotes

Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best – As above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

One way to define spiritual life is getting so tired and fed up with yourself you go on to something better, which is following Jesus. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

No life of faith can be lived privately. There must be overflow into the lives of others. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

There is nothing terribly difficult in the Bible – at least in a technical way. The Bible is written in street language, common language. Most of it was oral and spoken to illiterate people. They were the first ones to receive it. So when we make everything academic, we lose something. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

The Bible is not a script for a funeral service, but it is the record of God always bringing life where we expected to find death. Everywhere it is the story of resurrection. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.


I will not try to run my own life or the lives of others; that is God’s business. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

I cannot fail to call the congregation to worship God, to listen to his Word, to offer themselves to God. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

The Spirit works through community. Somebody will have a stupid, screwy idea. That’s okay. The point of having creeds and confessions and traditions is to keep us in touch with the obvious errors. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

The minute the church and pastors start saying what do people want and then giving it to them, we betray our calling. We’re called to have people follow Jesus. We’re called to have people learn how to forgive their enemies. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she acquires an appetite for the world of grace. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

If we get our information from the biblical material there is no doubt that the Christian life is a dancing, leaping, daring life. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Popular Eugene H. Peterson Quotes


Suffering attracts fixers the way road-kills attract vultures. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

It’s essential for us to develop an imagination that is participatory. Art is the primary way in which this happens. It’s the primary way in which we become what we see or hear. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

One of the most interesting and remarkable things Christians learn is that laughter does not exclude weeping. Christian joy is not an escape from sorrow. Pain and hardship still come, but they are unable to drive out the happiness of the redeemed. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

I believe God takes the things in our lives – family, background, education – and uses them as part of his calling. It might not be to become a pastor. But I don’t think God wastes anything. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

I think pastors are the worst listeners. We’re so used to speaking, teaching, giving answers. We must learn to be quiet, quit being so verbal, learn to pay attention to what’s going on, and listen. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

The hard work of sowing seed in what looks like perfectly empty earth has a time of harvest. All suffering, pain, emptiness, disappointment is seed: sow it in God and He will, finally, bring a crop of joy from it. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

I don’t think that brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God should fight. I think that’s bad family manners. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Self is the soul minus God. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Great Eugene H. Peterson Quotes

Pity can be nearsighted and condescending; shared suffering can be dignifying and life-changing. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Reading is a gift, but only if the words are taken into the soul – eaten, chewed, gnawed, received in unhurried delight. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be – you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean. Count yourself lucky – God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from Him. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

People learn to shop for churches; there is no loyalty to the church. They’re consumers being attracted to one product or another. I think it’s sacrilege, to tell you the truth, it really is. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Praying puts us at risk of getting involved in God’s conditions. Be slow to pray. Praying most often doesn’t get us what we want but what God wants, something quite at variance with what we conceive to be in our best interests. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

We cannot be too careful about the words we use; we start out using them and they end up using us. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Endurance is not a desperate hanging on but a traveling from strength to strength. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

All cultures throw certain stumbling blocks in the way of those who pursue gospel realities. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

I will not try to run my own life or the lives of others; that is God’s business. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

All the persons of faith I know are sinners, doubters, uneven performers. We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

American culture is probably the least Christian culture that we’ve ever had because it is so materialistic and it’s so full of lies. The whole advertising world is just, it’s just intertwined with lies, appealing to the worst of the instincts we have. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

When we sin and mess up our lives, we find that God doesn’t go off and leave us- he enters into our trouble and saves us. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Powerful Eugene H. Peterson Quotes

The silence that makes it possible to hear God speak also makes it possible for us to hear the world’s words for what they really are – tiny and unconvincing lies. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

The Bible makes it clear that every time that there is a story of faith, it is completely original. God’s creative genius is endless. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

And yet I decide, every day, to set aside what I can do best and attempt what I do very clumsily – open myself to the frustrations and failures of loving, daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

When you are part of a megachurch, you have no responsibility to anybody else. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

If you keep the Sabbath, you start to see creation not as somewhere to get away from your ordinary life, but a place to frame an attentiveness to your life. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Love is not a word that describes my feelings; it is not a technique by which I fulfill my needs; it is not an ideal, abstract and pure, on which I meditate or discourse. It is acting in correspondence with or in response to God in relation to persons. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.


Prayer is the disciplined refusal to act before God acts. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

O God, when my faith gets overladen with dust, blow it clean with the wind of your Spirit. When my habits of obedience get stiff and rusty, anoint them with the oil of your Spirit. Restore the enthusiasm of my first love for you. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Prayer gets us in on what God is doing. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

People are not problems to be solved. They are mysteries to be explored. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

If people don’t know their pastor, it’s easy to put the pastor on a pedestal and depersonalize him or her. It’s also easy for pastors, who don’t know their congregations, simply to classify congregants as saved or unsaved, involved or not involved, tithers or non-tithers. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

My job is not to solve people’s problems or make them happy, but to help them see the grace operating in their lives. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Profound Eugene H. Peterson Quotes

Hoping does not mean doing nothing. It is not fatalistic resignation. It means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

If you don’t take a Sabbath, something is wrong. You’re doing too much, you’re being too much in charge. You’ve got to quit, one day a week, and just watch what God is doing when you’re not doing anything. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Waiting means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

The moment the organic unity of belief and behavior is damaged in any way, we are incapable of living out the full humanity for which we were created. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

Jesus almost never talked in terms of explaining. He was always using enigmatic stories and difficult metaphors. He was always pulling people into some kind of participation. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

I think it’s important, according to me anyway, to have some mentors in the cemeteries. People who did it right, before there were crowds of people to become important. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

I didn’t write because I had anything to say, but in order to find out what there was to say. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

It is difficult to recognize pride as a sin when it is held up on every side as a virtue, urged as profitable, and rewarded as an achievement. ~ Eugene H. Peterson.

So these were the 84 top Eugene H. Peterson quotes and sayings.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Erica Jong quotes and Erich Fromm quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar