I am reading Eugene Peterson’s book, The Pastor. I wish I had read a book like this, long ago. I may never have left my first church. (I left it, moving on to find new challenges and opportunities, and to run from some, too, in which I did not know how best to cope or respond.) But Peterson, through the telling of his own unfolding life-story and through the showing / telling of what it means to be a pastor (and what it does not mean), reveals to me a breadth, but mostly a depth, of this sacred vocation. It resonated deeply within me as truth and in many ways I long to go back and do it over, and try harder to get it right.
All of us have a book we would like talk about and to share, perhaps the most recent one that has somehow touched us. But, I would say that this is a unique book, pointing to a vocation and to its essence that would be so helpfully freeing and instructive regarding the the task of pastors today, or in any day. It should be in the hands of each pastor. And church folk other than pastors would do well to read it, and so to understand as well the role of pastor in the Christian community. It will also help would-be pastors who are trying to discern a potential call to this vocation. It will help some decide, who really should move on, hearing God’s call to something else.
I would summarize the core theme of The Pastor as follows:
“Pay attention – to God, to God’s Story, to God’s world – to this moment, this day. Pay attention to people, to this community, to this person in this particular time and place, and to their story. And, be open to see and to trust that somehow our stories, each one and of this community, somehow fits in to God’s Story. Learn then to live into the purposes and unfolding narrative of God, particularly as depicted in the Biblical record, the Book of Scripture, but also in the Book of Creation. A pastor is to do that, him or herself, and the vocation itself is somehow about helping people through Holy Spirited-assistance to do that as well: to pay attention, to enter into the fullness and wonder of God’s Story.”
Read this book. Let God speak to you through the sage wisdom, experience and storied-counsel of this Godly man.
3 thoughts on “The Pastor”
I picked this book up at CBOQ Assembly this year and wasted no time in getting into it. I found it inspiring an challenging all at the same time. I agree with Laurie Barber, too, that this book should be in the hands of every pastor.
I am reading this book as a text book recommended for Pastoral Theology class at Tyndale. God is speaking to me powerfully through Eugene Peterson. I can resonate with him in every level of my life. Before reading this book I used to think I might be a very different or naive person who talks about God, Christ and Church this way but God assured me through this man of God that whatever I was thinking was not just emotional senseless talk of an immature Christian. It is the Spirit of God, who is guiding me every step of the way. Thank you brother Euegene for speaking from your heart. Most of the time in the “business of saving souls” we forget about our calling and what it means to be a pastor. You reminded me once again that the church and people will expect us to do everything their way. The church committee might ask me to fulfill job description of a pastor but I must remain faithful to my Lord who is my real master.
I love this book and wish that all pastors should read it.
I picked up this book shortly after it came out in the fall of 2012. I enjoy Peterson’s writings and was not disappointed with this memoir of his pastoral ministry. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Being in my “first” church in a rural setting, it helped me understand and deal with some of the issues that I was going through, that I thought were unique to me. They weren’t! Pastors alike share many of the same joys, concerns and struggles. One of the ideas that a group of us Pastors in the Owen Sound Association took from the book was to initiate our own “Company of Pastors.” Unlike Peterson, who met with other Pastors on a weekly basis, we meet monthly to discuss our ministries. This small group of four has been so helpful in our ministries. I also highly recommend this to every pastor.