• Friday , 22 September 2017

Remembering Bishop Rueben P. Job

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“The are no unimportant moments in any lifetime. All are precious gifts of opportunity to know and serve the One who made us and chose to stand with us and be like us in the gift of life.”

— Rueben P. Job, A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God


Note from Sarah Wilke, Publisher of The Upper Room…

Sarah Wilke headshot


We have lost a dear family member. With the death of Bishop Rueben P. Job, I’m reminded of his legacy—of spiritual guidance, meaningful writing, dedicated prayer, and courageous leadership.

Every day at The Upper Room, we experience traces of Bishop Job’s influence. Before being elected a United Methodist bishop, he served as World Editor and Publisher of The Upper Room from 1982-1984. During that period, The Upper Room held its first Academy for Spiritual Formation, our children’s devotional magazine Pockets had its first full year of publication, Emmaus was growing like a teenager, and the 600-millionth copy of The Upper Room daily devotional guide was printed.

It was also during this time that Job and seminary professor Norman Shawchuck published the first Guide to Prayer, designed to help people pray while reflecting on the lectionary scriptures.

Job’s election to the episcopacy left Upper Room staff saddened to lose their patient, wise, effective spiritual leader. But when he retired as bishop, he returned to Nashville and went back to work at The Upper Room. In his new role, he encouraged us to shift some of our capacity into the care of the spiritual lives of church leaders. He was the founding director of the Pathways Center for Christian Spiritual Formation, continued his work on the Guide to Prayer books and other publications, and contributed greatly to our seminal small-group resource, Companions in Christ.

It is an honor to follow in Job’s footsteps as the Publisher of The Upper Room and to continue this heritage of providing spiritual care to people around the world.

Many longtime staff of The Upper Room speak of Job’s calm, abiding presence, which invoked the presence of God. Please join me in remembering his life with celebration and gratitude as we all strive to live as he did—peacefully, prayerfully, and courageously—following in the steps of Jesus.

Sarah Wilke
Publisher, The Upper Room



Words from Rueben’s former colleagues.

(Please leave your comments and reflections in the field provided at the bottom of this post.)


from Maxie Dunnam . . .

I’ve known few persons who could be so tough and tender at the same time; so confident, yet humble; so demanding, yet encouraging. His demands had little to do with performance, but everything to do with character and integrity.

Gratitude does not cease now that he has departed the earthly scene; in fact, his death makes my gratitude more pronounced. Thinking of him makes me think more about who I am and who I can be—as Rueben would say, “by grace.”

—Maxie Dunnam
Director of Christ Church Global, Christ UMC, Memphis
President Emeritus, Asbury Theological Seminary
Author of The Workbook of Living Prayer 

from Danny Morris . . .

It is obvious to many people that the hand of God wrote through Rueben’s pen! He helped lift the Daily Office into prominence. He was a master of spiritual direction. As a walking spiritual presence, Rueben brought forth the best in others. He was a safe, warm, open, loving person! He was a student of the quest for solitude.

—Danny Morris
Former Executive Director of Upper Room Program Ministries

from Marjorie Thompson . . .

Rueben, dear friend, whatever weakness your physical heart suffered in your later years, your spiritual heart was that of a lion, tirelessly loving the church you served so faithfully in leadership, writing, and spiritual guidance. In your gentle humility, passionate commitment, and profound wisdom, you have been a lion worthy of Aslan—the figure of Christ himself, whom you have reflected to us in your quiet, wonderful way. Thank you, and thanks be to God for you!

—Marjorie J. Thompson
Author of SoulFeast and architect of the Companions in Christ series

from Steve Harper . . .

Rueben spoke quietly and discerningly, so that when he did have something to say, we always knew it would be the blend of a mystic’s soul and a thinker’s mind.  Everyone listened, frequently weaving his view into the final decision. He knew how to speak the truth in love.

As far back as I can remember, he had a deep concern for the church and its renewal, believing until his dying day that we would find that renewal to the extent we devoted ourselves to prayer. He leaves us all that vision and challenge—and he leaves us so many other gifts as well.

Rest well in Jesus, Rueben P. Job. We are all the better for knowing you.

—Steve Harper
Former Dean of the Chapel, The Upper Room
Retired professor of spiritual formation

from Pam Hawkins . . .

Rueben has not left us on our own, but has bequeathed to us, and to all God’s people, a life’s work of guidance — of guides to prayer and the spiritual life — that is forever marked by the gentle, loving spirit of a fellow pilgrim named Rueben.

—Pam Hawkins
Associate Pastor, Belmont United Methodist Church

from Robin Pippin . . .

I remember in particular the day he spoke in chapel on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the publication of The Upper Room—March 1, 1995. Rueben told the story of the beginning of the publication, that it was a “risky venture . . . born in the hearts of women.” He relayed the legendary story about the little publication going to press with no name, and how editor Grover Emmons, upon hearing a sermon about Jesus meeting with the disciples in the upper room, wired the new name back to Nashville. …

I went up to Rueben and told him that his sermon had meant so much to me. In a touching move, he kissed me on the cheek. That tender gesture from a holy man felt like an anointing to me. I never forgot it, and Bishop Job has remained a man I revere.

—Robin Pippin
former Upper Room Book editor

from Stephen D. Bryant . . .

Holy listening, I think, was the heart of Rueben’s life and ministry: listening for God’s call, listening to one another, listening to those Jesus listened to, listening to the stranger. It was the spiritual practice that seemed to thread everything together for Rueben. Along with his deep faith that nothing, nothing whatsoever, in life or in death, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

—Stephen D. Bryant

Central Conference Relations and Resourcing
Discipleship Resources International
Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church
and former publisher of The Upper Room

from Tom Albin . . .

When the Spirit of God called Rueben, he answered. Like the first disciples who laid down their nets to follow Jesus, Rueben laid down his farming tools and followed Jesus. That was his life and that was his message—“follow Jesus”—in prayer, in preaching, in teaching, in reaching out to all people in all places at all times. In the 34 years I have known Rueben personally, and in the 12 years I visited with him regularly as my spiritual director—he was consistently, humbly, honestly—a man of the Spirit, a man of prayer, and a man of God. He was, in his person and character, The Upper Room. All of us here will miss him greatly. Together we pray that the same Holy Spirit that called and anointed him for ministry—will fall afresh on us—that we, like Rueben, might live fully and die well.

—Tom Albin
Dean of The Upper Room Chapel and Ecumenical Relations


  1. Phyllis Tyler
    January 11, 2015 at 9:25 pm Reply

    Rueben Job was a fellow South Dakotan. In our covenant discpleship group we agreed that the silence and vast spaces of the prairie up bringing shaped our reflective spirits. With gratitude I remember his gentle, wise and perspective soul.
    Phyllis Tyler
    Former Director of
    Covenant Disciplineship GBOD

  2. Marti Williams
    January 14, 2015 at 9:06 pm Reply

    The Upper Room staff recently received this note from a devoted friend and reader, upon learning of the death of Rueben Job . . .

    Back when Bishop Job was assigned to lead the General Commission on Communications, I was a member of that group, and was deeply impressed with the way he presided and the way he treated people. I wrote the lines below after I learned of his death. Let us remember a good Christian gentleman.—Jim Magaw

    Rueben P. Job, Bishop and More

    Once in a meeting where the debate
    was generating more heat than light,
    this kind and gentle man of Christ
    asked us to speak more softly
    so we could hear one another.

    Seldom have I been in the presence
    of one so strong and caring.
    His manner of being was as quiet
    as his purpose was lofty and good,
    and it made us all better by far.

    He was chosen for great responsibilities,
    but never let his position sidetrack him
    from serving God’s kingdom purposes
    with a humility modeled by the Christ
    whose spirit he lived without pride.

    Scolding was not in his repertoire.
    If we were shamed, it was by our failure
    to live up to what he demonstrated,
    but it did not end there. We wanted
    a chance to live by that same grace.

  3. Misty Sams
    January 18, 2015 at 11:17 pm Reply

    I’d just like to say “Thank You” to each and every one of you that have left the comments above..Rueben is/was my Great Uncle and it’s awesome to see and read all these things said about him…he will be missed by more then his blood family obviously because from what I’ve seen he’s got another family as well…who I can see will miss him just as much….RIP Uncle Rueben…your in your “Home Clothes” now…He’s now at home.

  4. W G Henry
    January 29, 2015 at 4:35 pm Reply

    Rueben was the Spiriitual Director of the first Academy for Spirutal Formation. He had to leave midway in the Academy when he was elected Bishop.
    We had a celebration for him as he was leaving… He called us together and gave each of the Ruben Rueben was the Spiritual Director of the first Academy for Spirtual Formaion. As he was leaving the When Rueben left The Academy for Spiriatual Formation to serve as Bishop he gave members a leatherbound copy of his just published “Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants..
    I took my copy to him and ask him to sign it and write how he wanted to remember him in prayer.
    He wrote “Pray That I May Be Faithful” … I have never seen prayer answered any greater than his desire to be faithful.
    One of the great catalysts for his faithfulness was the way it is lived out with his Soul Mate Beverly. The bond between them is a bautiful thing to see. She undergirds him with patience,wisdom,and humor. She smiled at him with a twinkle in her eyes..He twinkled back

  5. Barb Nardi Kurtz
    January 31, 2015 at 7:11 pm Reply

    I have just read the Upper Room notes about Bishop Job’s death and am sitting at the computer with my eyes filled with tears – and smiling. The Guides to prayer led me into silence for the first time. I never thought to meet one of the authors, until a week=long seminar for Senior Adult ministries came along, There he was – and that encounter has informed my ministry ever since. I had never met a man so totally at peace with himself and the world around him. I thank God for his life, and now for his rest in God.

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