- Paperback: 137 pages
- Publisher: Eerdmans Pub Co (May 1, 1987)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780802802651
- ISBN-13: 978-0802802651
- ASIN: 0802802656
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 54 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity Paperback – May 1, 1987
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Having spent the last three years in fulltime work in the Church, Working the Angles, was a good challenge to return to the perspective, practice, and discipline I began those years doing. His words and emotional force cut into my heart with the realization of how little energy and importance I now (and perhaps always) have put on prayer. Most striking, however, was the call to the realization of what prayer really is:
"Prayer is a daring venture into speech that juxtaposes our words with the sharply alive words that pierce and divide souls and spirit, joints and marrow, pitilessly exposing every thought and intention of the heart (Heb. 4:12-13; Rev. 1:16) (Peterson 1998, 43)."
I had definitely fallen back into a bland routine of praying. I neither was considering Who I was actually communing with or the gravity of my prayers. The sections dealing with prayer in this book have been quite restorative in even helping me to slow down in my prayer and seek God. His words to Pastors on "little prayers" offered at the start of an event or function have also pressed my heart to not take lightly the moments we pray prior to the start of class, chapel, a meal, or bedtime with the children.
The second of area of challenge that I found of great benefit was that of contemplative exegesis. He uses a striking illustration from Herman Melville's novel White Jacket to tell how we might get carried away with the technical skills of our life's calling to the actual defeat of what we are striving to accomplish. Already this term I have found this true as we bury deep in research, reading, study, and writing. It is easy for me to strive to read all the texts, gather data, or compose papers and sermons, but to do so devoid of the life found in God's word. Again Working the Angles has been a siren call away from the shoals of academic and scholarly success that could easily end in break up spiritual well being. Prayer and re-realization of a God Who is alive and speaking through His word has been a breath of fresh air.
Finally, Peterson's discussion of Sabbath presses upon my heart. I have been struggling to find both rest and Sabbath. Each day I feel the pressure of deadlines and responsibilities, while the tension of family and Church ministry expectations hound my thoughts. Peterson reflections on the Hebrew morning and evening concepts, I pray, will continue to shape my perspective of Who is really at work in my life. He also helped me to re-think what a real Sabbath means and I am seeking to implement a weekly time that restores my perspective on the reality of God, His sovereignty in my life, and healthy disciplines moving forward.
As a lay person, I was brought up short because for too long I have measured my pastors by the to do list he accomplishes and the teaching she does. I have not always allowed them the space to do the most important things - being the guardian and teacher of the word and sacrament, abiding in Christ through prayer, and being the spiritual director I need rather than the quick answer to a problem I bring forward. I stand corrected.
My hope is that this book crosses the desk of every pastor in America, to renew his or her call to ministry, to give permission and encouragement in keeping the promises of ordination and installation. It will radically change the pastorate and the Church it ministers to.
Well done, Pastor Peterson. Thank you for your honesty, your leadership, and your willingness to be real and tell it like it is.
So it continues with this account of what angles really a pastor is about: prayer, the Word and spritual direction. Acts 6:4 certainly prescribes to Peterson's analysis as well.
This is a direct challenge to the CEO mentality in the church today. Marketing the church has taken over in too many places. The necessary corrective is offered here. As he poignantly writes: "This isn't the only task in the life of faith, but it is your task. We will find someone else to do the other important and essential tasks. This is yours: word and sacrament." Amen.
This book, then, is his attempt to articulate the cornerstone practices of pastoral ministry, all of which take place out of the public eye and apart from the frantic ambition of modern life.