The Pastor is a memoir-styled look at Eugene Peterson’s 28 years of pastoral ministry. He chronicles his call, his tenure, his lifestyle in and departure from pastoring. As a pastor myself, I found his observations insightful and inspiring. Here are a few things I appreciated about this book.
- Writing. Eugene can write. His prose run thorough, and his sentences pleasantly long. He often alludes to his love of language and his dread of cliches. His writing demonstrates this concern. He is careful to write thoughtfully, creatively, and inspiringly. If you like sentences (and I do), you will enjoy the literary aesthetics of reading this book.
- Simplicity. Peterson labors in his ministry to be an unhurried, simple pastor. Time and again, he made choices in his life to remain this way. He was determined to avoid the harried nature of modern, American ministry. His example acted as a kind of true North for me, a reminder of what really matters, and proof that such ministry can be effective (He planted a church that grew to 500 all-the-while being a simple, unbusy pastor).
- Authenticity. Eugene lets us into the real world of pastoring. He does tend to romanticize the calling, but not to the point of glossing over the difficulties. He candidly offers the ups and downs of ministry to the reader. He talks about his time in the vocational “badlands.” He talks about the mess of ministry. He discusses the lethargy of Christians. Again, for a young pastor like myself, this kind of weathered wisdom proved very helpful.
I gladly commend this book to you.
If you’re not a pastor, it may be slow reading, though it will provide some insight into the world of full-time ministry. If you are a pastor, you will greatly appreciate this work. Give it a look.