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The Pastor: A Memoir Hardcover – February 22, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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.” (William Paul Young, author of The Shack)

“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!” (Richard J. Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline)

“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.” (Philip Yancey, author of What Good is God)

“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.” (Shane Claiborne author of The Irresistible Revolution)

“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.” (Dale T. Irvin, President, New York Theological Seminary)

“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.” (Dallas Willard, author of The Divine Conspiracy)

“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.” (Christianity Today)

“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.” (Englewood Review of Books)

“A book full of much needed wisdom that is written with eloquence.” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

“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.” (Religion & Ethics Newsweekly)

From the Back Cover

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (February 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061988200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061988202
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

201 of 209 people found the following review helpful By Matthew B. Redmond on February 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"...I want to insist that there is no blueprint on file for becoming a pastor. In becoming one, I have found that it is a most context-specific way of life:the pastor's emotional life, family life, experience in the faith, and aptitudes worked out in an actual congregation in the neighborhood in which she or he lives - these people just as they are, in this place. No copying. No trying to be successful. The ways in which the vocation of pastor is conceived, develops and comes to birth is unique to each pastor." - Peterson

Hand-cuffed. I don't even know how to write a review of this book. A review is what you write when it isn't personal. A review is what you do for books. The Pastor is far more than a book. You need to understand that Eugene Peterson saved my vocational soul just over a year ago. And since that time I have been pointing people - especially pastors - to his books. Especially young pastors. So how about a non-review?

Maybe the evangelical world has been a circus for a long time. But I didn't notice. I didn't notice all the center rings, high-trapeze acts and dancing bears. And the unspeakable horror of then realizing you not only paid for a ticket but got paid to take part. You walk out of the arena with sticky soles under you, past the sideshows and into clean air but you have no idea if you should go back in. Who will help you now? Is the insanity the only choice? Is there a voice of sanity in this wilderness?

I remember lying in my bed. The weight of being a pastor was on me and I wanted it off. I knew I needed some help. Maybe circus is the wrong way to describe what is happening in America. For I was surrounded...hemmed in by managers and CEOs, shopkeepers and PR men and women.
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Fr. Charles Erlandson on February 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Over the years I have benefited immeasurably by the writings of Eugene Peterson. I think just about any dedicated Christian can pick up just about any work by Eugene Peterson and spiritually benefit from it. But this is especially true of pastors, of whom I am one.

Eugene Peterson understands pastors like no one else! The truth is that God has exalted the role of pastor, and yet men continue to demean it, undermine it, or ignore it. Peterson's "The Pastor: A Memoir" is therefore a very welcome work to a man who has become a pastor to pastors. In this work, Peterson hopes to restore the dignity of the role of the pastor. I highly recommend it to all who are called to serve in God's Church, and especially to those who may have lost their way or feel inadequate to the great vocation to which God has called you. It will bring rest to all who are weary and heavy laden.

But Peterson goes about his task in an unusual and refreshing way. What is perhaps most striking about Peterson's work is something suggested by the titles of his chapters. What you don't find is a list of theological themes or pastorals roles but what looks like experiences from Peterson's life. This is because "The Pastor" is the story of the formation of Eugene Peterson as a pastor. Telling his stories is his way of teaching us how to be pastors, for, as he says, there is no one blueprint for how to become and be a pastor. "The Pastor" is a wonderful look at the formation of one pastor, Peterson, told through the stories and experiences by which God formed him as a pastor. Peterson's story, while unique, is also therefore the story of every pastor. There is such a depth of personal wisdom made meaningful to all that "The Pastor" teaches in a way that few other books do.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By George P. Wood VINE VOICE on March 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In The Pastor, Eugene H. Peterson tells "the story of my formation as a pastor and how the vocation of pastor formed me." Peterson is best known as author of The Message, his "translation" of the Bible into "American words and metaphors and syntax." He recently completed a five-volume series--
"conversations"--about spiritual theology. And he has written numerous books about the pastoral vocation, the seedbed out of which all his other books has grown. This memoir narrates the journey of a Pentecostal kid from Montana becoming a Presbyterian pastor in Maryland.

For pastors, it is must-reading. For one thing, Peterson's story shows how God uses the particularity of our circumstances to shape us into the people he wants us to be, under the tutelage of Holy Scripture. For another thing, it offers a searing critique of the commoditization of American religion that turns "each congregation into a market for religious consumers, an ecclesiastical business run along the lines of advertising techniques, organizational flow charts, and energized by impressive motivational rhetoric." And finally, it does all this through a storytelling that alternates between humor, anger, frustration, and hope--the emotions all pastors face in their ministries.

Example: Peterson recounts being bullied by Garrison Johns in elementary school. Instructed by his mother to "turn the other cheek," Peterson endured the insults and beatings until "[s]omething snapped within me." He wrestled his tormentor to the ground, pinned him with his knees, and began pummeling him with his fists. His entreaties, "Say `uncle'" met with no response, so he began shouting, "Say, `I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.'" After a couple more hits, Johns said the words, gaining Peterson his first "convert.
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