The Pastor  -     By: Eugene H. Peterson
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The Pastor

HarperOne / 2011 / Hardcover

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Product Description

How many clergy and laypeople do you know who count one of Eugene Peterson's titles as a personal favorite? This delightful read---his most revealing book yet---is saturated with "aha" moments of what it means to be both a shepherd and a lover of souls. An engaging blend of candid autobiography, sound theology, and sage advice. 336 pages, hardcover from HarperOne.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 304
Vendor: HarperOne
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 X 1.01 (inches)
ISBN: 0061988200
ISBN-13: 9780061988202
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

In The Pastor, Eugene H. Peterson, the translator of the multimillion-selling The Message and the author of more than thirty books, offers his life story as one answer to the surprisingly neglected question: What does it mean to be a pastor?

When Peterson was asked by his denomination to begin a new church in Bel Air, Maryland, he surprised himself by saying yes. And so was born Christ Our King Presbyterian Church. But Peterson quickly learned that he was not exactly sure what a pastor should do. He had met many ministers in his life, from his Pentecostal upbringing in Montana to his seminary days in New York, and he admired only a few. He knew that the job's demands would drown him unless he figured out what the essence of the job really was. Thus began a thirty-year journey into the heart of this uncommon vocation—the pastorate.

The Pastor steers away from abstractions, offering instead a beautiful rendering of a life tied to the physical world—the land, the holy space, the people—shaping Peterson's pastoral vocation as well as his faith. He takes on church marketing, mega pastors, and the church's too-cozy relationship to American glitz and consumerism to present a simple, faith-filled job description of what being a pastor means today. In the end, Peterson discovered that being a pastor boiled down to "paying attention and calling attention to 'what is going on right now' between men and women, with each other and with God." The Pastor is destined to become a classic statement on the contemporary trials, joys, and meaning of this ancient vocation.

Author Bio

Eugene H. Peterson, author of The Message, a bestselling translation of the Bible, is professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Regent College, British Columbia, and the author of over thirty books. He and his wife, Jan, live in Montana.

Editorial Reviews

“Eugene Peterson excavates the challenges and mysteries regarding pastors and church and gives me hope for both. This a must read for every person who is or thinks they are called to be a pastor and for every person who has one.”
“If anyone knows how to be a pastor in the contemporary context that person is Eugene Peterson. Eugene possesses the rare combination of a pastor’s heart and a pastor’s art. Take and read!”
“I’ve been nagging Eugene Peterson for years to write a memoir. In our clamorous, celebrity-driven, entertainment culture, his life and words convey a quiet whisper of sanity, authenticity, and, yes, holiness.”
“A good book for folks who like pastors. And a good book for folks who don’t. The Pastor is the disarming tale of one of the unlikely suspects who has helped shape North American Christianity.”
“More than a gifted writer, Eugene Peterson is a voice calling upon the churches to recover the vocation of the pastor in order to experience the renewing of their faith in the midst of an increasingly commercialized, depersonalized, and spiritually barren land.”
“If you are hoping to be a pastor, or just to understand what that is, get this book and soak in it for at least three full days with no distraction. It may save your life and make you a blessing.”
“A gift to anyone who has tried answering the call to pastor, and to a church that needs true pastors. . . . It is a subtle manifesto of hope for our time.”
“Peterson found writing as a way to pay attention, and as an act of prayer. It’s our privilege to have his words, full of insight and truth. This book might be considered a long prayer for pastors.”
“A book full of much needed wisdom that is written with eloquence.”
“Peterson is a master storyteller. . . . The Pastor is a profound and important meditation . . . serves as a necessary reaffirmation of the true nature of a calling that in current American religious life seems largely lost.”

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  1. Texas
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A memoir one pastor to another
    April 27, 2011
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I picked up this book because I saw Eugene Peterson speak at the Catalyst Conference; and being at the very beginning of my own pastoral career, I knew I could do well with having some outside voices speak into my situation.

    And you could argue that Eugene is Presbyterian and I am not, that he grew up in a different culture and generation than I did and that the world of ministry looks very different today: all true. But, I don't know if that means that the role that the pastor plays is any different - and I think Eugene would agree.

    The Pastor is not so much a book as it is a story, what I mean is_ it's a journey of how Eugene planted a church, grew a congregation, built a sanctuary and traveled through the "badlands" of ministry.

    And as a memoir goes, it had all of the things I was hoping for, funny stories about growing up and being a pastor, how he met his wife, the journey of starting and growing a church, some of his weekly practices, good books he recommends, and some really great biblical application.

    But to read this book is really to read Eugene's story, so it wouldn't be right for me to tell it here, but there are a few of the things that resonated with my own story:

    First, Eugene talks about the role of pastor being a vocation and not a "job." I've said it a million times, the job of being a pastor is one of the weirdest careers of all time. From the outside it doesn't look like any other nine to five on the planet. But Eugene would rather you think of it as a vocation. With a job, you can walk away from it, you can separate your work life from your home life, and certainly Eugene talks about having a Sabbath rest and "getting away" now and then - but a vocation is a calling - it's a lifestyle of living with a community of people. How does one do that?

    Second, Eugene talks about being a "contemplative pastor" and not a "competitive pastor."

    What's the difference?

    A competitive pastor is always looking to the next project, and is constantly "measuring up" their church activity and the spiritual growth of its members. A competitive pastor has an agenda; has goals and is pushing their way towards those goals. But in the end, these are still people's lives_ and while we (as pastors) might feel called to "change people" and perhaps feel like a failure if people don't rise to the occasion, tithe more, become prayer warriors, volunteer, help, join in, memorize, or in any other way mature into the mile marker we have set for them_ we have to be able to live comfortably within the space God calls us to.

    A contemplative pastor is a pastor who is able to be with people "without having an agenda for them, a pastor who is able to accept people just as they (are) and guide them gently and patiently into a mature life with Christ but not (getting) in the way, (by letting) the Holy Spirit do the guiding." page 211

    And the life of being a pastor is finding the balance of merging these two things together - you and the congregation. Eugene talks about how this merging sometimes breaks. "I had been shifting from being a pastor dealing with God in people's lives to treating them as persons dealing with problems in their lives. I was not being their pastor. I could have helped and still been their pastor. But by reducing them to problems to be fixed, I omitted the biggest thing of all in their lives, God and their souls, and the biggest thing in my life, my vocation as pastor_ I was trading in the complexities of spiritual growth in congregation for the reduced dimensions of addressing a problem that could be named and understood." page 140

    Everyone has their own idea of what a pastor should be, but rather than listen to the congregation define the "job," Eugene embarks on listening to scripture define the "calling." How does worship and work come together? How is a pastor fulfilling his biblical calling on a typical Tuesday?

    This is a wonderful book and a helpful resource for the new, the tired, the experienced and the retired. I highly recommend it.
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