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The Pastor: A Memoir

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In The Pastor, author Eugene Peterson, translator of the multimillion-selling The Message, tells the story of how he started Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland and his gradual discovery of what it really means to be a pastor. Steering away from abstractions, Peterson challenges conventional wisdom regarding church marketing, mega pastors, and the In The Pastor, author Eugene Peterson, translator of the multimillion-selling The Message, tells the story of how he started Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland and his gradual discovery of what it really means to be a pastor. Steering away from abstractions, Peterson challenges conventional wisdom regarding church marketing, mega pastors, and the church’s too-cozy relationship to American glitz and consumerism to present a simple, faith-based description of what being a minister means today. In the end, Peterson discovers that being a pastor boils down to “paying attention and calling attention to ‘what is going on now’ between men and women, with each other and with God.”


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In The Pastor, author Eugene Peterson, translator of the multimillion-selling The Message, tells the story of how he started Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland and his gradual discovery of what it really means to be a pastor. Steering away from abstractions, Peterson challenges conventional wisdom regarding church marketing, mega pastors, and the In The Pastor, author Eugene Peterson, translator of the multimillion-selling The Message, tells the story of how he started Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland and his gradual discovery of what it really means to be a pastor. Steering away from abstractions, Peterson challenges conventional wisdom regarding church marketing, mega pastors, and the church’s too-cozy relationship to American glitz and consumerism to present a simple, faith-based description of what being a minister means today. In the end, Peterson discovers that being a pastor boils down to “paying attention and calling attention to ‘what is going on now’ between men and women, with each other and with God.”

30 review for The Pastor: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Demetrius Rogers

    One of my favorite quotes is by Amos Bronson Alcott. He once said, "That is a good book which is opened with expectation, and closed with delight and profit." Well, I found a book that thoroughly meets that description. Although I had never read any of his stuff, I had heard that Eugene Peterson's books were excellent. The moment I heard of this one, I knew I had to pick it up, and boy, I'm glad I did. Peterson held me spell bound for the last couple of weeks. I am in the process of finishing up One of my favorite quotes is by Amos Bronson Alcott. He once said, "That is a good book which is opened with expectation, and closed with delight and profit." Well, I found a book that thoroughly meets that description. Although I had never read any of his stuff, I had heard that Eugene Peterson's books were excellent. The moment I heard of this one, I knew I had to pick it up, and boy, I'm glad I did. Peterson held me spell bound for the last couple of weeks. I am in the process of finishing up a seminary degree and prayerfully considering my future. One thing I know for sure (whatever happens)... I will be taking this man on my journey. Not only did Peterson write with such insight and seasoned experience, but his tone and demeanor is what struck in me some of the deepest chords. He is humble, unhurried, non-theatrical. He is not given to cliché and his answers come with texture and layers. He is extremely thoughtful and measured. Now, some of the greatest leaders I've been around in church life haven't always fit this description. Rather, they've been blazing bundles of energy and zeal. I was reared (like Peterson) within a Pentecostal context, where sermons were not crafted as much as anointed in an extemporaneous manner. Unction and spontaneity were usually practiced over and above careful exegesis and study. I wasn't sure that was quite me. But even more than that, it was the pastors schedule that seemed most conspicuous. Pastors seemed to go on very little sleep, they traveled much, kept budgets, raised money, built buildings, led meetings, solved problems, and then was expected to maintain a deep devotional life, and be an exemplary husband and father. Honestly, I've been around some pretty impressive people, but the thought of all that just made me tired. I have always wondered if my temperament could sustain such expectations. Then, I began to have concerns about conducting the typical personality-centered, program-heavy, and success-oriented church. Was that even me? Does is it have to be this way? Must I wear every hat in the house to be a good pastor? And so you can imagine my excitement as Peterson began addressing these issues one by one. With clarity and even elegance he went through and beautifully articulated a vision of the pastorate that looks human... that looks doable. One that's not so demanding and unrealistic. Much hope and wisdom was infused into my bones. I needed this read. It did my soul good. As I sat reading in my easy chair, it seemed that Peterson sat directly across from me. We had a great conversation; he talked mostly, I listened. It was close to poetry. If nothing else shimmering nuggets of wisdom. Thanks Eugene for the excellent talk. You've been an answer to prayer. (2011) --------- 5 years later... Listened to this on audio for a second time through. It felt a bit different this time. It felt slower than I remember. After reading nearly a dozen of his books, though, I'm realizing Peterson's a bit that way. So, it took me awhile to hit the nuggets this time. But, boy, let me tell ya, when Peterson starts hitting it there's no one better. I think he's the voice on pastoral ministry today. His prophetic insight is so good. Chapter 24 to the end of the book is worth going through time and time again. I do have one more tiny frustration with Peterson. He can be a bit indirect. For all his emphasis on being earthly and grounded, he can get rather lofty and abstract. But, I guess that's the poet in him. And I kind of like it. Peterson seems to put nothing out there; he gives you no tools, no concrete takeaways. Rather, he makes you grapple with his ideas because, I assume, he wants you to do your own thinking. Seldom do I read authors as intellectually satisfying and respectful to his readers as Peterson. One of my goals is to one day make it through his entire canon.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    I can't say I've ever before considered the distinction between an autobiography and a memoir. But reading them simultaneously, I can see the difference and fell in love with memoir style. It's more heart than head, more process than fact. The only thing I really knew of Eugene Peterson before this book was his role in translating The Message. Through this book, I got a glimpse into the person and the process, the things that formed him and prepared the way. I love that he started on a path I can't say I've ever before considered the distinction between an autobiography and a memoir. But reading them simultaneously, I can see the difference and fell in love with memoir style. It's more heart than head, more process than fact. The only thing I really knew of Eugene Peterson before this book was his role in translating The Message. Through this book, I got a glimpse into the person and the process, the things that formed him and prepared the way. I love that he started on a path (never wanting to be a pastor) that he allowed God to change. It's not his profundity that makes this book great. I went through to look for good quotes, and the only ones I really loved were places he quoted other people. But this book is chock-full of concepts and issues he wrestled with. His normalcy captures me. He's a very down-to-earth guy I'd love to have as my own pastor. He invites the reader to join him as he reflects on issues he's wrestled with. He incorporates funny stories. I feel like an armchair theologian, engaged in his process as he explains what he's learned about Church and pastoring the hard way. I love how he constantly brings the "pastoral imagination" to the forefront as he reminisces what has shaped his own. In short, I feel so drawn in, seeing his pursuit of God and building a healthy church without personality, without politics, with reflectiveness, always asking the questions of himself and others as to what could make it better. This was a fabulous read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Lewton

    Im thankful to have these words as a guide for pastors who get caught up in busy. Peterson is a kind of sage for American pastors who, as he writes, serve in churches that do business with God in the background. He tells his own story in a way that points to dangers and delights for the rest of us on a similar journey. I’m thankful to have these words as a guide for pastors who get caught up in busy. Peterson is a kind of sage for American pastors who, as he writes, serve in churches that do business with God in the background. He tells his own story in a way that points to dangers and delights for the rest of us on a similar journey.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    I couldn't put this down. Peterson is such an approachable and compelling writer, but paradoxically, he has such prophetic insight and imagination. His message and call are far from comfortable, but they are communicated with such winsomeness and honesty that it is hard not be drawn in. This is a very unusual memoir - he's open - but keeps the focus very clear on ministry. This seems to me a brilliant solution to the problem of Christian autobiography. As such it is simply an extension of his I couldn't put this down. Peterson is such an approachable and compelling writer, but paradoxically, he has such prophetic insight and imagination. His message and call are far from comfortable, but they are communicated with such winsomeness and honesty that it is hard not be drawn in. This is a very unusual memoir - he's open - but keeps the focus very clear on ministry. This seems to me a brilliant solution to the problem of Christian autobiography. As such it is simply an extension of his role as a pastor, whereby he shared not only the gospel but his very life with those he serves in print.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Eason

    This was a fantastic look at the pastoral life and heart of a man who thoroughly immersed himself in the work of shepherding the flock. Petersons wit and imagination have helped form a view of the Bible that intersects with the daily grind of life in a unique way. I really enjoyed this book. This was a fantastic look at the pastoral life and heart of a man who thoroughly immersed himself in the work of shepherding the flock. Peterson’s wit and imagination have helped form a view of the Bible that intersects with the daily grind of life in a unique way. I really enjoyed this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Trent Thompson

    Eugene Peterson was one of our best. I was first introduced to Eugene when I read Eat This Book, a volume in his spiritual theology series, which I subsequently digested. A friend of mine called EP a poet-theologian thats about right. A couple themes stuck out to me this memoir. The first is vocation, that is, the kind of work God calls one to and equips one for. Eugene, as he details his formative moments chapter by chapter, shows how his vocation of pastor was gradually confirmed to him. At Eugene Peterson was one of our best. I was first introduced to Eugene when I read Eat This Book, a volume in his spiritual theology series, which I subsequently digested. A friend of mine called EP a poet-theologian — that’s about right. A couple themes stuck out to me this memoir. The first is vocation, that is, the kind of work God calls one to and equips one for. Eugene, as he details his formative moments chapter by chapter, shows how his vocation of pastor was gradually confirmed to him. At one point Eugene quotes Emily Dickinson: “The Truth must dazzle gradually / Or every man be blind.” Indeed. I think that speaks to our walking with God. Another theme Eugene touches upon is our tendency to reduce people to simple labels, simple explanations, simple functions. This is encapsulated brilliantly in his chapter, Uncle Sven, which alone is worth the price of the book. Four stars because I’m comparing the memoir to other books from EP that I’d recommend before the Pastor. Also, and I’ll give this more thought, Eugene’s writing sometimes came across as over-the-top, overly-indulgent. But perhaps that is a fault of the memoir genre itself.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Georgia Herod

    A friend passed this book along to me because she was sure I'd enjoy it. As a pastor's wife for nearly 35 years, I've been immersed in the life and ministry of a pastor who has planted churches, as well as led in growing them in both numbers and spiritual maturity. I was eager to read Peterson's memoir because of my having known about other books he'd written and having read and used The Message, his translation of the Greek and Hebrew texts into everyday American English. I was not disappointed A friend passed this book along to me because she was sure I'd enjoy it. As a pastor's wife for nearly 35 years, I've been immersed in the life and ministry of a pastor who has planted churches, as well as led in growing them in both numbers and spiritual maturity. I was eager to read Peterson's memoir because of my having known about other books he'd written and having read and used The Message, his translation of the Greek and Hebrew texts into everyday American English. I was not disappointed in any way. With integrity, honesty, vulnerability, and transparency, Peterson shares his life and philosophy of ministry as he gives his answer to the question, “What does it mean to be a pastor?” His life is an “open book” as he shares his journey as a Christian and as a pastor. Peterson is a marvelous storyteller who immediately draws in the hearts and minds of his readers from the very first chapter. Beautifully written, filled with anecdotes from his life and his ministry, this memoir will help any reader (either the uninitiated or the dyed-in-the-wool lifelong church goer) gain a rich understanding of what it means to be a pastor, one who shepherds a congregation, large or small, one who desires to live the Christ life among his people.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Margie

    I recommend this to anyone who has a pastor or is a pastor - men, women, in association with a church or ministering to others in everyday ways. He quietly traces his life and what shaped him from boyhood to somewhere near the end of his journey. (I think he is in his 80s.) He shares both wisdom and pitfalls - teaching from both his head and his heart. I want to listen to pilgrims like Peterson - they lead us, cheer us, encourage us to keep on.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Ludema

    This is a wonderful book. As I read this, I thought, "Wow, Eugene GETS IT." I was inspired by his simplicity and humility that was beautifully conveyed through his storytelling ability. In a world of competition and continual striving for better, faster, stronger- especially in the world of ministry- this book was a breath of fresh air. It definitely lives up to the hype.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alex Stroshine

    3.5/5. I have only read one Eugene Peterson book (besides his short book of poems) previous to his 2011 memoir (that was "Under the Unpredictable Plant") but even so there were stretches where I had already read through the content featured in this book. Of course, this memoir is more of a culmination of Peterson's lifelong reflections of pastoral vocation (and the stories are great - especially about his jesting with his denomination's inattentive bureaucracy) and so some repetition is to be 3.5/5. I have only read one Eugene Peterson book (besides his short book of poems) previous to his 2011 memoir (that was "Under the Unpredictable Plant") but even so there were stretches where I had already read through the content featured in this book. Of course, this memoir is more of a culmination of Peterson's lifelong reflections of pastoral vocation (and the stories are great - especially about his jesting with his denomination's inattentive bureaucracy) and so some repetition is to be expected, but still! Otherwise this is a wise and whimsical memoir from one of the most thoughtful pastors of the last half-century. I appreciated Peterson's frequent rebukes of the (North) American Church's obsession with relevance, worship as consumerism, church growth and programming, etc...although part of me wonders if his wildly successful paraphrase of "The Message" is itself not partially a product of the American drive for innovation, freshness, and novelty? I did not realize the Peterson was only professor of spiritual theology at Regent College for five and a half years (and, being a student there now, I wish he had discussed this phase of his life more, though there he was more of a professor than a pastor)! Worth reading, but I found Richard Lischer's pastoral memoir "Open Secrets" to be better, more astute and more focused on the pastor's relationship to the congregation. There were sections where Peterson rambles...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Zell

    I have benefited from several of Peterson's works over the years. His Message provides a different way of hearing the biblical text. His collections of sermons and his reflections on the pastoral practice are always thoughtful. I particularly appreciated his book with Marva Dawn, The Unnecessary Pastor. In his memoir, Peterson talks about how he came to become a pastor. He thought he was going to be a professor. And, he explains the many experiences that formed him as a pastor. He tells stories I have benefited from several of Peterson's works over the years. His Message provides a different way of hearing the biblical text. His collections of sermons and his reflections on the pastoral practice are always thoughtful. I particularly appreciated his book with Marva Dawn, The Unnecessary Pastor. In his memoir, Peterson talks about how he came to become a pastor. He thought he was going to be a professor. And, he explains the many experiences that formed him as a pastor. He tells stories from his childhood, seminary, and early years as a pastor. He was part of colleague groups that were instrumental in shaping his thought and ministry. A striking component of this memoir is his honesty. He did not always have the answers. He lost congregational members. He went through dry periods with the congregation and intellectually. He sought help from mentors. In the period of time that the church growth and worship as entertainment and the "church in mission" movements were gaining attention, Peterson was a consistent, reflective, rational voice for focusing on the basics of worship and community and for drinking from the deep well of tradition. A thoughtful and engaging read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dustin

    Eugene Petersens The Pastor is an eloquent memoir, describing his pastoral beginnings and his evolution over 50 years of ministry. It concludes with his reflection of what it all means. I especially appreciate his journey to becoming a pastor, from humble Montana beginnings to old, ivied campuses of the northeast to a Maryland church plant. I think these sections were his strongest. I could almost see him smiling through the pages. His descriptions of nature were vivid, his critiques of American Eugene Petersen’s The Pastor is an eloquent memoir, describing his pastoral beginnings and his evolution over 50 years of ministry. It concludes with his reflection of what it all means. I especially appreciate his journey to becoming a pastor, from humble Montana beginnings to old, ivied campuses of the northeast to a Maryland church plant. I think these sections were his strongest. I could almost see him smiling through the pages. His descriptions of nature were vivid, his critiques of American lust for crowds (and numbers in general) and consumerism especially wise. A few critiques of an otherwise excellent work: Petersen writes about working through a bit of a Messianic Complex. He wrote about it in a past tense, but I see it still. I also dislike how he describes people’s physical appearances, especially women, and how he puts down “menial work” (several times). Many of the chapters could stand alone as individual essays. Some transitions worked better than others. Overall worth reading, for pastors and parishioners alike.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joel Wentz

    My favorite from Peterson (so far, and I have loved all of what I've read from him previously). This book is enthralling. At times poetic, mesmerizing, funny, surprising, and always deeply moving. Peterson was a gift to the American church, and his story is a prophetic, clarion call that stands in direct contrast to the hype, emotionalism, individualism, consumerism, triumphalism mindset that marks so much of the leadership in North American Christianity today. Want to understand what a pastor My favorite from Peterson (so far, and I have loved all of what I've read from him previously). This book is enthralling. At times poetic, mesmerizing, funny, surprising, and always deeply moving. Peterson was a gift to the American church, and his story is a prophetic, clarion call that stands in direct contrast to the hype, emotionalism, individualism, consumerism, triumphalism mindset that marks so much of the leadership in North American Christianity today. Want to understand what a pastor is (or should be)? Read this book. Confused about your own sense of call to pastoral work, or losing a desire that once compelled you into the work of ministry? Definitely, absolutely, read this book. It's a feast, and one that I'll be returning to again and again. I'm deeply grateful for Peterson's mentorship in my own life through his writing, and this is the pinnacle.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Katie Bowman

    Petersons writing is good for the soul!! Heres the irony I love about him: his unimpressiveness makes him impressive and refreshing. He has a special way of intertwining truth with beautiful, poetic writing; it is so fitting that he is known as a Poet Pastor. This memoir is about his time as a pastor describing the ups and downs of ministry in a candid yet hopeful way. I loved his stories because they were practical and powerful all at once. I wish every pastor would read and consider how Peterson’s writing is good for the soul!! Here’s the irony I love about him: his unimpressiveness makes him impressive and refreshing. He has a special way of intertwining truth with beautiful, poetic writing; it is so fitting that he is known as a Poet Pastor. This memoir is about his time as a pastor describing the ups and downs of ministry in a candid yet hopeful way. I loved his stories because they were practical and powerful all at once. I wish every pastor would read and consider how Peterson views shepherding God’s people: messy, patient, nontheatrical, mundane, unbusy, and very holy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    When I was first a pastor I longed for an older, wiser pastor to invite me into his study for reflection of his life and vocation as well as his journey with Christ. Reading Petersens memoir I was sweetly reminded of that desire as that is the essence of this book. I entered looking for tips and answers and leave comfortable in the unknown of spiritual care for a congregation. The setting and time is different, maybe even the culture, but his experience felt like mine and it resonated with the When I was first a pastor I longed for an older, wiser pastor to invite me into his study for reflection of his life and vocation as well as his journey with Christ. Reading Petersen’s memoir I was sweetly reminded of that desire as that is the essence of this book. I entered looking for tips and answers and leave comfortable in the unknown of spiritual care for a congregation. The setting and time is different, maybe even the culture, but his experience felt like mine and it resonated with the compassion of deep care for people and their souls. This book is a treasure and for the church.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Eugene is just the pastor I'd hoped he'd be: genuine, humble, observant and wise. Every pastor should read this book and learn from his beautiful story of deeply investing in a parish. It is among his ordinary, sacred congregation that he develops the language of the Message - language that understands and values the mystery of where the Word meets our particular context.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Roycroft

    Petersons memoir is his usual mix of electrifying prose and disappointing content. Some of his reflections and insights on the pastoral task are remarkable and mind stretching, but there can at times be a dilution of Evangelical principle (warm-hearted praise of Barth for example), which is such a pity. Excellent in places, deflating in others. Peterson’s memoir is his usual mix of electrifying prose and disappointing content. Some of his reflections and insights on the pastoral task are remarkable and mind stretching, but there can at times be a dilution of Evangelical principle (warm-hearted praise of Barth for example), which is such a pity. Excellent in places, deflating in others.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Interesting story. He was surprised he was became a Pastor then worked at it for 30 years. He defines Pastor in a unique and compelling way, not one driving programs or buildings but bringing people into an understanding of God and of Worship. Sometimes the telling got a bit long but then picked up again.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    A beautiful gift. Thanks Eugene, for your ability to capture the pastoral calling and bestow upon it meaning, dignity, and poignancy. I have loved the time I have had with this book, and would like to give a copy to every pastor I know.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Garverick

    May I be half the pastor Eugene Peterson is.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Chelpka

    I listened to the excellent audio version of this book read by Arthur Morey. It was so good. And I have a lot to think about still. UPDATE: Added few more thoughts here: http://christopherchelpka.com/2018/07... I hope to write more on this in the future.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Trevor Atwood

    Ive never resonated with another pastors writing as much as I do Petersons. This memoir is moving and poignant for any reader, but it is especially so for pastors. Petersons poetic rejection of consumeristic church and patient embrace of people as humans instead of problems is a beautiful balanced call to what it means to be a pastor in America. Read this book, pastors. Read this book, Christians, to better understand a pastors heart. I’ve never resonated with another pastor’s writing as much as I do Peterson’s. This memoir is moving and poignant for any reader, but it is especially so for pastors. Peterson’s poetic rejection of consumeristic church and patient embrace of people as humans instead of problems is a beautiful balanced call to what it means to be a pastor in America. Read this book, pastors. Read this book, Christians, to better understand a pastor’s heart.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Locke

    I really enjoyed this book. Didnt quite have the same effect on me as Don Carsons Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor because Peterson is, in many ways, well-trained and well-known, yet I appreciated his thoughtful insight and reflection on both seemingly small and exaggeratedly large ministry moments. It was also nice reading about someones ministry outside the reformed evangelicalism camp. His ecumenical spirit, border-line mysticism, personal sabbath practice, insistence on mystery in the Christian I really enjoyed this book. Didn’t quite have the same effect on me as Don Carson’s “Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor” because Peterson is, in many ways, well-trained and well-known, yet I appreciated his thoughtful insight and reflection on both seemingly small and exaggeratedly large ministry moments. It was also nice reading about someone’s ministry outside the reformed evangelicalism camp. His ecumenical spirit, border-line mysticism, personal sabbath practice, insistence on mystery in the Christian life, and his held-tension between word/truth work and soul/prayer work were particularly instructive to me. Like his translated Message Bible, his writing is clear, punchy, and relevant.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joshua D.

    I haven't found anyone as insightful or helpful on the pastoral vocation as Eugene Peterson. This memoir is no exception. Highly recommended for anyone finding their way as a pastor, exploring the pastoral vocation, or just interested in knowing more about what your pastor does (and thinks and feels and fears).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Dear pastor Pete. Thank you. For who you are, and how you have walked and stayed true to the journey of discovering "pastor" in the truest sense. Your words and your life find resonance in my soul, in my imagination and I know that the stories book will serve as markers along the way, whispering "here is the way, walk in it." I feel like I could sit at the feet of Grandad Eugene, and listen to the same stories over and over again - and still be raptured. --- I wonder if at the root of the Dear pastor Pete. Thank you. For who you are, and how you have walked and stayed true to the journey of discovering "pastor" in the truest sense. Your words and your life find resonance in my soul, in my imagination and I know that the stories book will serve as markers along the way, whispering "here is the way, walk in it." I feel like I could sit at the feet of Grandad Eugene, and listen to the same stories over and over again - and still be raptured. --- I wonder if at the root of the defection is a cultural assumption that all leaders are people who "get things done," and "make things happen." That is certainly true of the primary leadership models that seep into our awareness from the culture... But while being a pastor certainly has some of these components, the pervasive element in our two thousand year pastoral tradition is not someone who "gets things done" but rather the person placed in the community to pay attention and call attention to "what is going on right now" between men and women, with one another and with God - this kingdom of God that is primarily local, relentlessly personal, and prayerful "without ceasing." - pg 5 Worship is not so much what we do, but what we let God do in and for us. - pg 172 I lived in two language worlds, the world of the Bible and the world of Today. I had always assumed they were the same world. But my congregation didn't see it that way. So out of necessity I became a "translator" (although I wouldn't have called it that then), daily standing on the border between two language worlds, getting the language of the Bible that God users to create and save us, heal and bless us, judge and rule over us, translated into the language of Today that we use to gossip and tell stories, give directions and do business, sing songs, and and talk to our children. - pg 303

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mark Spyker

    I just loved this book! Many of the early chapters had been covered to an extent in some of his earlier books, but it was wonderful to finally get an overview of the ministry which I think has impacted my own more than any other writer! Perhaps it is Peterson's exegesis of scripture which is most impressive - Run with the Horses (Jeremiah); A long obedience in the same direction (Psalms of Ascent); Leap over a Wall (David in Samuel); Reversed Thunder (Revelation); Traveling Light (Galatians); I just loved this book! Many of the early chapters had been covered to an extent in some of his earlier books, but it was wonderful to finally get an overview of the ministry which I think has impacted my own more than any other writer! Perhaps it is Peterson's exegesis of scripture which is most impressive - Run with the Horses (Jeremiah); A long obedience in the same direction (Psalms of Ascent); Leap over a Wall (David in Samuel); Reversed Thunder (Revelation); Traveling Light (Galatians); etc. - and these seem to have been birthed in his years as a preaching, praying, and scripture studying Pastor! Interestingly, while his own unique translations of scripture, 'The Message', began in his pastoral years, the bulk of this work was completed after 29 years in one Presbyterian Church, while serving as a visiting professor at a Bible College. His years as a Professor of Spirituality at Regent in Vancouver are barely touched on, perhaps because this also is not seen as being part of his vocation as 'Pastor', although of course this also produced a slew of books, some of which I still need to read (Practice Resurrection; The Jesus Way; The Wisdom of Each Other; Tell it Slant; etc.)! Peterson has been unbelievably prolific, on top of his pastoral work, lecturing, and translating the whole of scripture, & in addition to all the above, also writing some profound works on Pastoral work itself (The Subversive Pastor; Working the Angles; Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work; Under the Unpredictable Plant; etc.). In that way which seems to have been true for many great lives, Peterson's early years take up a disproportionate amount of space, laying down the foundations for his future prolific life of service and industry in a powerfully emotive portrait of his experiences growing up in a nurturing and discipling, family and community. Read this book!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marcás

    Pastor Eugene's memoirs are wonderfully well written and they make it even clearer than ever how great a stylist he is. The content of his life is interesting and whilst I frequently felt engaged enough to read on, I didn't get the feeling that I couldn't not have read this book. To be fair, these reflections are personable and engaging, however they remain at a relative surface level; this is devastatingly bathetic when we consider Eugene's generous gift for delving deep into the spiritual life. Pastor Eugene's memoirs are wonderfully well written and they make it even clearer than ever how great a stylist he is. The content of his life is interesting and whilst I frequently felt engaged enough to read on, I didn't get the feeling that I couldn't not have read this book. To be fair, these reflections are personable and engaging, however they remain at a relative surface level; this is devastatingly bathetic when we consider Eugene's generous gift for delving deep into the spiritual life. As someone who has followed enthusiastically Eugene's work- Long Obedience, Run with the Horses, Reversed Thunder, etc- I just expected more. I expected something of a radically transcendent character, like Fr Schmemann's Journals; yet regrettably I have been left longing for much more. The main problem is that his life, I believe, has been sanitised too much in this book and this fits incongruently with a vocation- focused, biographical book. I mean this in the sense of the raw aching struggles im sure he's been through on this long journey, as even the best of us know them. There's a softness to his Theology here too, which whilst it has it's undeniable charms, I think is missing some teeth. By this I refer to certain unquestioned American liberal presuppositions, which apparently form the canvas of American Christianity. It's hard to explain this, but there's a certain idolatrous love for pacifism and inclusion, missing the point to which they pretend towards. These memoirs are good and worthwhile but I'm not sure for whom they're most beneficial and again they are brilliantly written, but not great. For Pastor Pete at his best, please see some of the other titles I've referenced.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy Reagan

    Given to me as a gift from a friend, this volume by Eugene Peterson is a book every pastor needs to read. Dont overlook biography or memoirs as a source of great insight into the ministry, and such is the case here. The beauty of this book is what parts of his life he chronicled. Much is left out as only those events that in some way shaped him as a pastor are told. The wisdom comes from those events that he saw as shaping him. Even better, is the wisdom he distills for us from those events! He Given to me as a gift from a friend, this volume by Eugene Peterson is a book every pastor needs to read. Don’t overlook biography or memoirs as a source of great insight into the ministry, and such is the case here. The beauty of this book is what parts of his life he chronicled. Much is left out as only those events that in some way shaped him as a pastor are told. The wisdom comes from those events that he saw as shaping him. Even better, is the wisdom he distills for us from those events! He is candid throughout. Not as a dose of false humility, but sincerely enough that I actually imagine I could name his real faults. He is a writer too. Dullness never found its way into these pages. I must warn you, however, that he cuts against the grain. He slams what he calls the American consumerism that has infected and well nigh destroyed our churches are every point possible. The value, again, is that he unearths it in us. He exposes that we don’t know how to have “holy rest”. We don’t know how to be silent so that we might hear the Lord. He learned to avoid: “Inappropriate, anxiety-driven, fear-driven work (that) would only interfere with and distract from what God was already doing.” He confesses that the unlearning is slow and hard, but you find yourself wanting to begin the journey as you read these pages. He had to learn to loosen his grip so that others can exercise the gifts God had given them. Ministry became more effective and more extensive too. I could not follow Mr. Peterson at every point. He certainly found inspiration in a few places I never could. Still, the book is a jewel. I could tell you more, but you should mine this book’s treasures for yourself!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jason Kanz

    The Pastor: A Memoir (2012) by Eugene Peterson is a remarkable book, full of wisdom and beauty. Undoubtedly, Peterson is a storyteller, one who draws the reader into his reflections on a lifetime as a pastor, not as a job, but as a true vocation. From his early life in mountains of Montana to his later aspirations to become a professor, to the transition to becoming a pastor, he paints a thousand pictures with his words. I said recently that I would like to put this book into the hand of every The Pastor: A Memoir (2012) by Eugene Peterson is a remarkable book, full of wisdom and beauty. Undoubtedly, Peterson is a storyteller, one who draws the reader into his reflections on a lifetime as a pastor, not as a job, but as a true vocation. From his early life in mountains of Montana to his later aspirations to become a professor, to the transition to becoming a pastor, he paints a thousand pictures with his words. I said recently that I would like to put this book into the hand of every pastor I know. Peterson has an intimate understanding of the DNA of the pastoral life through his decades of self-reflection and wisdom. He reminds the reader that being a pastor is not simply about the job of preaching, but that it forms his whole person. For me personally, as my own reading life has matured, I have realized that although I still maintain an appreciation for much theology, I am increasingly interested in what Peterson calls "spiritual theology". On page 238, he wrote "I had understood the Revelation as a work I would later learn to name spiritual theology--entering into the lived quality of theology, writing my way into the primary substratum of life that involves taking the immediate conditions of everyday life--family, work, place, feelings--into the scriptures and gospel story and making a home there. Entering into reimagining and repraying scripture in the details of daily living personally and relationally and in place, right here, right now." The Pastor is a book I will likely read again. It presents a theology lived, beautifully.

  30. 5 out of 5

    J.E. Jr.

    As expected, this book was excellent. Petersons honesty about his own humble path to becoming the pastor he was and is, in his simple description of how it came to pass, makes it seem that God could guide any pastor along a similar path. And in fact, thats the point: our work and vocation as pastors is not all that different from one another, and Petersons portrayal of the life he has lived, and the lessons he has learned, as a pastor is not meant to be self-aggrandizing, but affirming of others As expected, this book was excellent. Peterson’s honesty about his own humble path to becoming the pastor he was and is, in his simple description of how it came to pass, makes it seem that God could guide any pastor along a similar path. And in fact, that’s the point: our work and vocation as pastors is not all that different from one another, and Peterson’s portrayal of the life he has lived, and the lessons he has learned, as a pastor is not meant to be self-aggrandizing, but affirming of others whom God has granted the calling of “pastor”. What makes this book so needed, as well, is that it (semi-unintentionally) debunks the common myths about what it means to be a pastor. Not a rock star, nor just one of the guys; not a CEO-styled visionary nor a psychologist. Rather, one who simply lives among others as the one who administers Word, Sacrament, prayer, and companionship, all the while giving dignity to all of those other vocations and more. Peterson casts a vision for pastoral ministry that is as old as the Scriptures themselves, yet in the face of so many misconceptions about the vocation of the pastor it is also fresh. And breathtaking.

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