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Any pastor who needs and wants to get back to basics will do well to absorb this book. Eugene Peterson, well known as "a pastor's pastor," here speaks words of wisdom and refreshment for pastors caught in the busyness of preaching, teaching, and "running the church." In The Contemplative Pastor Peterson highlights the often-overlooked essentials of ministry, first by redef Any pastor who needs and wants to get back to basics will do well to absorb this book. Eugene Peterson, well known as "a pastor's pastor," here speaks words of wisdom and refreshment for pastors caught in the busyness of preaching, teaching, and "running the church." In The Contemplative Pastor Peterson highlights the often-overlooked essentials of ministry, first by redefining the meaning of pastor through three strengthening adjectives: unbusy, subversive, andapocalyptic. The main part of the book focuses on pastoral ministry and spiritual direction "between Sundays": these chapters begin with poetic reflections on the Beatitudes and then discuss such themes as curing souls, praying with eyes open, the language of prayer, the ministry of small talk, and sabbatical--all with engaging, illustrative anecdotes from Peterson's own experience. The book ends with several meaning-full poems that pivot on the incarnation, the doctrine closest to pastoral work. Entitled "The Word Made Fresh," this concluding section is a felicitous finale to Peterson's discerning, down-to-earth reflections on the art of pastoring.


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Any pastor who needs and wants to get back to basics will do well to absorb this book. Eugene Peterson, well known as "a pastor's pastor," here speaks words of wisdom and refreshment for pastors caught in the busyness of preaching, teaching, and "running the church." In The Contemplative Pastor Peterson highlights the often-overlooked essentials of ministry, first by redef Any pastor who needs and wants to get back to basics will do well to absorb this book. Eugene Peterson, well known as "a pastor's pastor," here speaks words of wisdom and refreshment for pastors caught in the busyness of preaching, teaching, and "running the church." In The Contemplative Pastor Peterson highlights the often-overlooked essentials of ministry, first by redefining the meaning of pastor through three strengthening adjectives: unbusy, subversive, andapocalyptic. The main part of the book focuses on pastoral ministry and spiritual direction "between Sundays": these chapters begin with poetic reflections on the Beatitudes and then discuss such themes as curing souls, praying with eyes open, the language of prayer, the ministry of small talk, and sabbatical--all with engaging, illustrative anecdotes from Peterson's own experience. The book ends with several meaning-full poems that pivot on the incarnation, the doctrine closest to pastoral work. Entitled "The Word Made Fresh," this concluding section is a felicitous finale to Peterson's discerning, down-to-earth reflections on the art of pastoring.

30 review for The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jason Kanz

    There are few writers I enjoy more than Eugene Peterson. His love for God, for people, and for language routinely meet on the pages of his books. His work should be tasted and savored, but I find it difficult not to binge on his writings. Not surprisingly, Peterson exploring "the Art of Spiritual Direction" in The Contemplative Pastor (1989) was a book that I had a hard time setting down. The Contemplative Pastor is broken into three sections. In the first, "Redefinitions," Peterson explored thr There are few writers I enjoy more than Eugene Peterson. His love for God, for people, and for language routinely meet on the pages of his books. His work should be tasted and savored, but I find it difficult not to binge on his writings. Not surprisingly, Peterson exploring "the Art of Spiritual Direction" in The Contemplative Pastor (1989) was a book that I had a hard time setting down. The Contemplative Pastor is broken into three sections. In the first, "Redefinitions," Peterson explored three descriptors for a pastor: unbusy, subversive, and apocalyptic. I was recently moved by his description of the "unbusy pastor" in his later memoir The Pastor and had some familiarity with the idea of the apocalyptic pastor. Briefly, in Peterson's thoughts, pastors should be characterized by settledness, margin, and patience, working without frenzy in the day to day life of the church and of the world. The second section--the longest--is called "Between Sundays". Peterson meaningfully argues that much, if not most, of the work of the pastor takes place from Monday to Saturday. The nine chapters here are built around the beatitudes with an eye toward soul care. Each chapter begins with a poem and then moves into the realities of spiritual direction, exploring themes such as creation, prayer, language, small talk, and suffering. The final, albeit too brief, final section contains a number of poems about the incarnation. Peterson asked, "is it not significant that the biblical prophets and psalmists were all poets?" To answer his rhetorical question, yes, I believe it is significant. Words matter.Words convey truth, but they also convey beauty. Like his previous works The Contemplative Pastor by Peterson is a joy to read, whether or not you are a pastor.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ko Matsuo

    Eugene Peterson's writing is so interesting. Sometimes he reads like an old man who is rambling. Nice words, but nothing to get excited about. However, sometimes he provides insight that is so piercing, so powerful, so penetrating, that you feel that either heaven itself has opened up or our souls themselves have been carefully sliced open and exposed. He is brutally honest, introspective, and articulate. This is a short book and even with its ups and downs, is very accessible.

  3. 4 out of 5

    J.J.

    Excellent. Convicting and quietly encouraging. Vintage Peterson. The cure of souls rather than the job of running a church… What it looks like to contextualize the gospel to the particular forms of spiritual adolescence we've settled into here in the West… How praying and teaching people to pray is the pastor's primary work, despite what the latest flurry of business-minded ministry books might claim… The middle voice that is the language of prayer—neither controlling nor passive, but responding ac Excellent. Convicting and quietly encouraging. Vintage Peterson. The cure of souls rather than the job of running a church… What it looks like to contextualize the gospel to the particular forms of spiritual adolescence we've settled into here in the West… How praying and teaching people to pray is the pastor's primary work, despite what the latest flurry of business-minded ministry books might claim… The middle voice that is the language of prayer—neither controlling nor passive, but responding actively to God's always-prior action…

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rick Dobrowolski

    Eugene Peterson was a solo pastor of a small church for over 2 decades. So that makes him someone who I admire. Faithful plodders are my kind of pastors. Give me someone who sticks to it no matter how hard it gets over someone who hits the ministry scene with a splash only to shrivel because of their lack of faithfulness to God. I find a lot of helpfulness in this pastor's wisdom. Did I like everything? Nah, but who has ever found someone that they completely agree with? This book made me think Eugene Peterson was a solo pastor of a small church for over 2 decades. So that makes him someone who I admire. Faithful plodders are my kind of pastors. Give me someone who sticks to it no matter how hard it gets over someone who hits the ministry scene with a splash only to shrivel because of their lack of faithfulness to God. I find a lot of helpfulness in this pastor's wisdom. Did I like everything? Nah, but who has ever found someone that they completely agree with? This book made me think and ponder, and that makes it valuable to me and any other pastor in this world. The value of this book is in how Peterson distills the pastoral ministry to its most potent essentials. So, if you as a pastor wants a book that makes you think, helps you simplify, and blesses your SOUL, give this book a read. If you read it, you'll also know why I wrote SOUL in all caps.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jim Cooper

    A four-star Peterson book is still better than the best books by almost anyone else. This one has a little bit looser setup/writing style that I just didn't enjoy as much. In many of Peterson's books, he uses poetry to help explain a point. I have always enjoyed this, and it has made me gain an appreciation for it. In this book he writes his own, but it's not quite as good. But there is a lot of stuff here I enjoyed, especially on our role in the world ("the harpooner").

  6. 4 out of 5

    Fred

    This book on the pastoral vocation predates Peterson's theological series or his autobiography and covers some of the same material. There are also similarities to his "Working the Angles." Peterson has written often on these themes in a variety of circumstances. In this book he focuses on language and on the difference between how the world sees the Pastor's job versus our responsibility it to God. He ends with a chapter on his Sabbatical and an appreciation of poetry.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rob Steinbach

    Eugene Peterson is one of a handful of writers whose works consistently connects with my soul. The way that happens for me is through disorientation. Peterson helps me see something familiar as new, strange, or as mystery once again. He has become a pastoral mentor and spoken to my heart as a pastor more than anyone else. I highly recommend this work especially to pastors and vocational church workers. I’ll be returning to this one often.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Lobdell

    Always convicted by Eugene Peterson's work. He is bold and authoritative but it is easy to receive because he speaks from a life of faithful pastoral practice. Although, sorry dude, I'll never be a LOVER of poetry...but I will learn from it, promise. :)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hiram Kemp

    4.5 stars

  10. 5 out of 5

    JD Tyler

    This book is classic Peterson. Richly pastoral, insightful, and poetic, a must read for anyone in a pastoral role or aspiring to be in one.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Paul Walker

    Eugene Peterson is gift to the body of Christ! I have personally always enjoyed the work of Peterson. He holds a special place within my devotional and spiritual life. His translation of the bible, titled The Message, has brought scripture alive for me. His collections of commentaries, books, and articles are no different in their effectiveness. In his book The Contemplative Pastor, Peterson speaks as a clear prophetic voice to the leaders of the church today. He speaks from a wealth of personal Eugene Peterson is gift to the body of Christ! I have personally always enjoyed the work of Peterson. He holds a special place within my devotional and spiritual life. His translation of the bible, titled The Message, has brought scripture alive for me. His collections of commentaries, books, and articles are no different in their effectiveness. In his book The Contemplative Pastor, Peterson speaks as a clear prophetic voice to the leaders of the church today. He speaks from a wealth of personal experience and theological depth. The second chapter “The Un-busy Pastor” really hit home for me. It is the ethos of the Pastor. Peterson writes “The Appointment Calendar is the tool with which to get un-busy, It’s a gift of the Holy Spirit that provides the pastor the means to get time and acquire leisure for praying, preaching, and listening.” 1 Eugene’s central message in this chapter to be purposeful in the planning of your rest, work, and life. In other words; if you do not plan your life others will do it for you. Scheduling gives you the time to work a 100% and enjoying socializing and resting at a 100%. Peterson reminds us of a central truth I learned on my internship: “Work hard, rest hard”. The chapter that resonated in my approach to logos, ethos and pathos was chapter three, “The Subversive Pastor”. Peterson writes, “In general people treat us with respect, but we are not considered important in any social, cultural, or economic way.”2 This quote stung a little. Why aren’t we having an impact in the socio-economic fabric of the world? Why is there a separation between the sacred and secular? I think of church leaders in the past, such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who called the church to participate as a vehicle of change to the injustices of society. What has changed? Personally I would say that our post-modern relativistic cultural mindset has taught us that truth is not universal, and this results in lack of acceptance to the gospel. Peterson would agree that we need to challenge our cultural norms. He would, however caution us against a direct assault on the ethos of our communities. He writes, “Direct assault on the god-self is extraordinarily ineffective. Hitting sin on head on is like hitting a nail with a hammer, it only drives it in deeper.”3 We must challenge our culture in the way that Christ challenges our culture. Jesus taught with parables, as creative illustrations rather than direct assault. He was able to paint a picture through narrative. These narrative pictures challenged told thousands words that cut through the distortion of the accepted norms. We must also see that Jesus primarily in the way he lived. Peterson agrees with this when he challenges us by saying “The way the gospel is conveyed is as much a part of the kingdom as the truth presented. Why are Pastors experts on the truth and dropouts on the way?”4 This is a solemn reminder that the truth we Pastors wish to communicate must be illuminated within the ethos of our lives. More and more I am taking seriously the call to lead by example. I think Gandhi spoke truth when he said, “ Be the change you want to see”. I think this is cry of scripture when we read “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”(Matthew 5:48) The only way to see the kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven is by the means of the kingdom, not by earthly means. This is not easy. I don’t pretend it is, but acknowledge that is only by walking in step with the Holy Spirit that we do not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16) “Most people, most of the time, are not in crisis. If pastoral work is to represent the Gospel and develop a life of faith in the actual circumstances of life, it must learn to be at home in what novelist William Golding has termed the “ordinary universe”5 Prayer often occurs in a crisis moment. Emotionally sensitivity is typically present in a crisis. The desire to change is often birthed directly out of crisis. We are called, however to connect relationally in the day-to-day life. I like that in this chapter Peterson addresses the need for big-talk by fire in mouth preachers. I confess that I am so guilty of this! To my detriment at times, I love a great theological/ethical/sociological discussion! As Peterson suggested, I have also been guilty of grunting at what I consider mundane. Peterson challenged me in this chapter utilize small talk as an essential tool.

  12. 5 out of 5

    mpsiple

    Hard to categorize. Peterson's emphasis on the basics (word/sacrament, spending time with people, and especially prayer) is refreshing and even insightful as one considers modern expectations of a pastor. But there are also whole chapters that I found either outright wrong or just annoying. Worth the effort for any pastor who feels like he's working a "job."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This afternoon, I picked up "The Contemplative Pastor" by Eugene Peterson and decided to sponge the rest of the way through it...absorbing as much of his pastoral wisdom as possible. For the sake of brevity here, I simply want to call attention to one chapter which is begging to be immediately applied to my ministry with college students and young adults. The chapter is entitled "The Ministry of Small Talk" and Peterson describes this idea as a pastoral art. Perhaps the reason this chapter feels This afternoon, I picked up "The Contemplative Pastor" by Eugene Peterson and decided to sponge the rest of the way through it...absorbing as much of his pastoral wisdom as possible. For the sake of brevity here, I simply want to call attention to one chapter which is begging to be immediately applied to my ministry with college students and young adults. The chapter is entitled "The Ministry of Small Talk" and Peterson describes this idea as a pastoral art. Perhaps the reason this chapter feels so pertinent to me is because I was just sitting in my office near the University of Cincinnati "counseling" with a student (some would call it discipling, mentoring, coaching, encouraging, talking, etc) and kept feeling internal pressure to steer the conversation towards more substantial topics. There are many occasions in similar scenarios with students that I am trying to "pastor" and influence in which I have left the conversation/meeting disappointed because we didn't talk about the BIG spiritual topics. Peterson cautions: "If we bully people into talking on our terms, if we manipulate them into responding to our agenda, we do not take them seriously where they are in the ordinary and the everyday." In another section he implies that we can inadvertently communicate to those in our pastoral care that the mundane world in which they live 90% of the time is sub-spiritual. That creates a very unhealthy compartmentalization of life into spiritual and non-spiritual categories. This encouragement to embrace the pastoral art of listening and valuing the common ordinary stuff of students' lives ( in my case) is exactly what I needed to hear and read this week. Small talk is a big deal when you're trying to listen to and love people well!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    This is vintage Peterson. The book is an appeal for recovering the essentials of pastoral work--prayer, the ministry of the Word and spiritual direction. This book focuses more on the the aspect of spiritual direction. Peterson contends that pastors should be unbusy, subversive and apocalyptic. This last is that pastors focus on the big realities of the coming kingdom that is urgent, patient and prayerful. Peterson also focuses on pastoral practice between Sundays. He has very insightful comments This is vintage Peterson. The book is an appeal for recovering the essentials of pastoral work--prayer, the ministry of the Word and spiritual direction. This book focuses more on the the aspect of spiritual direction. Peterson contends that pastors should be unbusy, subversive and apocalyptic. This last is that pastors focus on the big realities of the coming kingdom that is urgent, patient and prayerful. Peterson also focuses on pastoral practice between Sundays. He has very insightful comments regarding the importance of small talk and a spirituality that is grounded in the everyday matters of life and both the individual ways our sinfulness manifests itself and the ways the grace of God meets us in ordinary life. He also has some thought-provoking insights in his chapter on "Is Growth a Decision?". He speaks of the kind of active submission to the conditions of our lives in which God meets us--work, language, and love--a participation in the work of God that is neither simply active nor passive. It is life in the middle voice. It is the dance with the Other. His concluding chapter is must reading for anyone considering a sabbatical. Then he concludes with some of his own poetry--Peterson believes that pastors who neglect poetry for prose become prosaic.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    I really liked this book and seeing the shepherd heart of Peterson. He loves his church family. "My job is not to solve people's problems or make them happy, but to help them see the grace operating in their lives." The book was written while Peterson was in Montana on a year's sabbatical from his East Coast church. It is reflective and just full of warmth and caring. "Pastoral listening requires unhurried leisure, even if it's only for five minutes. Leisure is a quality of spirit, not a quality I really liked this book and seeing the shepherd heart of Peterson. He loves his church family. "My job is not to solve people's problems or make them happy, but to help them see the grace operating in their lives." The book was written while Peterson was in Montana on a year's sabbatical from his East Coast church. It is reflective and just full of warmth and caring. "Pastoral listening requires unhurried leisure, even if it's only for five minutes. Leisure is a quality of spirit, not a quality of time... Speaking to people does not have the same personal intensity as listening to them... I can't listen if I'm busy." "Teenagers are incredibly gullible... They don't feal history in their bones. It is not their history. The result is that they begin every problem from scratch. There is no feeling of being part of a living tradition that already has some answers worked out and some precedures worth repeating."

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Powell

    Excellent read I greatly enjoyed this book and got a lot out of it that will be applicable from my life and ministry moving forward. The only thing that I got hung up on throughout the book were some portions of poetry that were just hard to follow. It's a book that I think would need to be re-read a couple of times in order to get a fuller benefit from it, along with possibly doing some group discussion to wade through understanding some sections.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Leachman

    This is not only a great book for people in vocational ministry, but it is also a great book for anyone who wants their life to be in service for others. Peterson has very eloquently argued for a basic loving way to care for people that is very counter-cultural and very Kingdom oriented.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Innes

    Another book I wish I'd read before, or in the early days, of ordination.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Supimpa

    Summary: In this volume of the series on pastoral theology, Peterson presents a sequence of reflections on the meaning and way of pastoral vocation. He focuses on redefining the word “pastor” over against modern cultural expectations, and on giving advice on the time between Sundays, where most of the vocation takes place in a silent, slow and ordinary involvement with local communities. A great book by Peterson, with all his strengths—great imagery and anecdotes, powerful interaction between bibl Summary: In this volume of the series on pastoral theology, Peterson presents a sequence of reflections on the meaning and way of pastoral vocation. He focuses on redefining the word “pastor” over against modern cultural expectations, and on giving advice on the time between Sundays, where most of the vocation takes place in a silent, slow and ordinary involvement with local communities. A great book by Peterson, with all his strengths—great imagery and anecdotes, powerful interaction between biblical text and daily life, awareness of thought-provoking poets—and weaknesses in my view—sometimes repetitive and elusive. I was particularly struck by his idea of the three main characteristics of a pastoral vocation (unbusy, subversive and apocalyptic) and the chapter on the forgotten art of “curing souls”. In this latter, Peterson alerts the reader about the difference between having a job, (“running a church”) and actually developing the prayerful awareness of what God is already doing (even before the pastor got there), and guiding people in that vision. Obviously, this perspective demands pastors free enough to contemplate and interact with “small talk” about the regular and simple events in the city and the people’s lives.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Reinhardt

    Floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. Wonderfully written, this book bubbles along with the words flowing like a gentle stream. But the word brings a powerful flood to reshape the landscape. The lightness of his language makes the weight of his words even heavier. He comes alongside you, with his arm on your shoulder, and then kicks you in the butt. He cuts through the managing and implementing and advising to challenge a pastor, or any Christian, to examine if they are revealing God wit Floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. Wonderfully written, this book bubbles along with the words flowing like a gentle stream. But the word brings a powerful flood to reshape the landscape. The lightness of his language makes the weight of his words even heavier. He comes alongside you, with his arm on your shoulder, and then kicks you in the butt. He cuts through the managing and implementing and advising to challenge a pastor, or any Christian, to examine if they are revealing God with their words, or are they using sterile speech. He does not advocate a holier than thou posture where all conversations must be manipulated to ‘spiritual’ things. He explicitly shuns that approach. Small talk is a valuable path to the lives of others. But ultimately our language should be the language of prayer. Prayer and the power of God's spirit should be the subversive power that showers God's grace on the sinner we encounter. Sinners screwup, we should not be surprised, we are one. Grace can work with that, advice is sterile and does not bring life. He also exposes inadequacy and immaturity. We too often, I too often, use it as an excuse for staying spiritual adolescents and avoiding responsibility, which make is sinful. We are steeped in a culture of youth that prizes youth over the Spirit. Time to man up, if you will. This book deserves careful reading and rereading. He cuts to the heart of discipleship with pastoral care and prophetic authority.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christine Hiester

    "Life is not something we manage to hammer together and keep in repair by our wits; it is an unfathomable gift. We are immersed in mysteries: incredible love, confounding evil, the creation, the cross, grace, God... a solved life is a reduced life." I love everything Eugene Peterson writes. His honesty, humility, and faithfulness (to God and craft) are evident in every sentence. "The Contemplative Pastor" may be one of my favorites. As a spiritual director in training, I found so much to lean in t "Life is not something we manage to hammer together and keep in repair by our wits; it is an unfathomable gift. We are immersed in mysteries: incredible love, confounding evil, the creation, the cross, grace, God... a solved life is a reduced life." I love everything Eugene Peterson writes. His honesty, humility, and faithfulness (to God and craft) are evident in every sentence. "The Contemplative Pastor" may be one of my favorites. As a spiritual director in training, I found so much to lean in to in this volume. From his own previous and false beliefs about what pastoring is, to a reflection on the call from Annie Dillard to really SEE the world around us (an entire beautiful chapter), to a necessary and fruitful sabbatical year, his wonderings and firm assertions alike sing on every page.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joe Koehler

    Peterson stretches my understanding of the calling and work or the pastor in good ways. Particularly, I appreciated his emphasis on the pastor's duty to teach the language of prayer…and that he cannot do that unless he is unbusy. Peterson also draws attention to the need for pastor's to be subversive - to meet their people in the ordinary, speak into the ordinary, but in a similar way to Jesus speaking ordinary parables. Profound truths are best understood when the come up from under the ordinar Peterson stretches my understanding of the calling and work or the pastor in good ways. Particularly, I appreciated his emphasis on the pastor's duty to teach the language of prayer…and that he cannot do that unless he is unbusy. Peterson also draws attention to the need for pastor's to be subversive - to meet their people in the ordinary, speak into the ordinary, but in a similar way to Jesus speaking ordinary parables. Profound truths are best understood when the come up from under the ordinary. A big theme running through the book is the importance a pastor ought to give words (including but not limited to The Word). A favorite quote: "…the cure of souls is a cultivated awareness that God has already seized the initiative …he had and continues to have the first word" (60).

  23. 5 out of 5

    Justin Steckbauer

    I enjoyed this book by Eugene Peterson. It challenged me on how I think about my role as a faith leader. It suggested that the pastoral role is subversive and counter-cultural, and indicates the need to break free the being a "chaplain to the culture." Peterson calls us to be subversive to a culture that wants to tuck the pastoral role into the corner, as someone who helps people, instead of someone who proclaims a true living God, and a risen Jesus Christ. Unfortunately as I kept reading I slow I enjoyed this book by Eugene Peterson. It challenged me on how I think about my role as a faith leader. It suggested that the pastoral role is subversive and counter-cultural, and indicates the need to break free the being a "chaplain to the culture." Peterson calls us to be subversive to a culture that wants to tuck the pastoral role into the corner, as someone who helps people, instead of someone who proclaims a true living God, and a risen Jesus Christ. Unfortunately as I kept reading I slowly lost interest as he began talking about poetry, and other topics that lost my interest. Still a good book though.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Seth Mcdevitt

    This book says things that I have thought for a while, but does a much better job of expressing them than I could. This book was not so much convicting as it was encouraging. It encouraged me to find out that I'm not as weird as I thought. Aside from the practical benefit of this work, the word-craft is commendable. It is a double benefit to the pastor in content and as an example of literary care and excellence.

  25. 4 out of 5

    J.

    "I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself--and to all who will notice--that I am important." (The Unbusy Pastor, p.18) Eugene Peterson is an excellent writer. He was a solo pastor for a small(ish) congregation for about 2 decades which makes him a seasoned and insightful pastor. This is evident from many of his books that bleed mature wisdo "I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself--and to all who will notice--that I am important." (The Unbusy Pastor, p.18) Eugene Peterson is an excellent writer. He was a solo pastor for a small(ish) congregation for about 2 decades which makes him a seasoned and insightful pastor. This is evident from many of his books that bleed mature wisdom. The Contemplative Pastor is no exception. This short (171 pages) book is filled with profound insights. The aim of this book is to persuade pastors to return to the art of Spiritual Direction. It follows a simple digestible methodology to achieve this end. The book is chunked into three parts: Redefinitions: In this section, Peterson redefines the metaphors of ministry. He paints three positive images for a pastor: unbusy, subversive and apocalyptic. Pastors are meant to not give into productivity frenzy but instead are people of prayer. Between Sundays: This part deals with Monday-Sunday 'job' of a pastor. Here, the book delves into some very deep and profound subjects: creation, spiritual direction, language, prayer, suffering and small talk. Poems about the Incarnation: Lastly, Peterson ends his book with a brief section on poems. His thesis is certainly interesting, he suggests, "is it not significant that the biblical prophets and psalmists were all poets?". This really made me think about the poverty of preachers who disregard poetry. My Recommendation: The Contemplative Pastor is a must read for new baby pastors (like me). One of the major strength of this book is that it plunges us out of our slavery to business models to 'run' a church as a business. It clearly demonstrates that pastors are meant to be people of the word, prayer and teaching. Nonetheless, the greatest weakness of this book is that, at times, it can be hard to follow. I found myself skimming some of it. In short, it is a good book for baby pastors as well as spiritual giants. So buy it, read it and then give it to someone else. The Reading Revd https://thereadingrevd.com/

  26. 5 out of 5

    Caleb Blevins

    I enjoyed reading this book and especially Peterson’s writing style. Peterson showed me areas in my life that I need to grow in such as being engaging with people and their small talk and by being subversive in my sharing of the hope and love found in Christ. I did not care for Peterson’s poetry at the end of the book but everything else about it was great. I will return to this again and again throughout my years I am sure.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Biz

    Peterson's Voice Continues to ring true. This little treasure trove of pastoral insight touches on, and digs deeply into, the daily rhythms and routines of providing spiritual leadership and companionship within the context of a congressional environment. I return to it again and again!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Eason

    Eugene Peterson knows the language of my soul well. This book was no exception. There are chapters in this book (i.e. "The Unbusy Pastor" and "Lashed to the Mast") that were phenomenal. There were other sections that were confusing and downright weird. The good parts are still worth it. Such is life.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Rowland

    The effect of this book is more than the sum of its parts. The content was up-and-down; sometimes piercingly insightful, other times hard to follow and ramble-y. Yet, how it shaped my thinking, my feeling, even somehow my breathing, is hard to understate. The Contemplative Pastor literally brought me tranquility, at times. It is very worth a read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Howell

    Contemplative pastor should be read as it was written- contemplatively, slowly, thoughtfully and poetically. This book should be read by any who consider themselves to be in pastoral work- whether in the church or not. His view on the role of a Pastor in curing souls and not just running a church is a timely word for us in the era of mega church, big-organization Christianity.

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