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The Pastor: A Memoir
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The Pastor: A Memoir

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  1,090 ratings  ·  172 reviews
“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
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Published February 22nd 2011 by christianaudio (first published February 2nd 2011)
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I can't say I've ever before considered the distinction between an autobiography and a memoir. But reading them simultaneously, I can see the difference and fell in love with memoir style. It's more heart than head, more process than fact.

The only thing I really knew of Eugene Peterson before this book was his role in translating The Message. Through this book, I got a glimpse into the person and the process, the things that formed him and prepared the way.

I love that he started on a path (neve
Demetrius Rogers
One of my favorite quotes is by Amos Bronson Alcott. He once said, "That is a good book which is opened with expectation, and closed with delight and profit." Well, I found a book that thoroughly meets that description. Although I had never read any of his stuff, I had heard that Eugene Peterson's books were excellent. The moment I heard of this one, I knew I had to pick it up, and boy, I'm glad I did. Peterson held me spell bound for the last couple of weeks. I am in the process of finishing up ...more
Jimmy Reagan
Given to me as a gift from a friend, this volume by Eugene Peterson is a book every pastor needs to read. Don’t overlook biography or memoirs as a source of great insight into the ministry, and such is the case here. The beauty of this book is what parts of his life he chronicled. Much is left out as only those events that in some way shaped him as a pastor are told. The wisdom comes from those events that he saw as shaping him. Even better, is the wisdom he distills for us from those events!

J.E. Jr.
Sep 14, 2011 J.E. Jr. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pastors, church members, church leaders
Recommended to J.E. by: Matt Redmond, Lee Ferguson
As expected, this book was excellent. Peterson’s honesty about his own humble path to becoming the pastor he was and is, in his simple description of how it came to pass, makes it seem that God could guide any pastor along a similar path. And in fact, that’s the point: our work and vocation as pastors is not all that different from one another, and Peterson’s portrayal of the life he has lived, and the lessons he has learned, as a pastor is not meant to be self-aggrandizing, but affirming of oth ...more
Josh Hopping
Drawing from 30 years of experience as the pastor of a small 300 member church in Maryland, Peterson shares the tough times and the good times, the happy times and the not-so-happy times. And even better, he calls pastors to be pastors instead of managers or councilors or entertainers.

“I was not primarily dealing with people as problems. I was a pastor calling them to worship God….Congregations is a company of people who are defined by their creation in the image of God, living souls, whether t
Reading this is an amazing opportunity for any pastor who wants a reflective look of someone who took a church start to lasting community, authored many books, taught many students (including myself) and, oh, by the way, translated the Bible in to contemporary American language to make it more tangible and in doing so, created one of the best selling stories of God. Yet, Pastor Eugene concludes with a letter in which he wrote, "... it strikes me right now as curious that I have almost no sense o ...more
Eugene Peterson is the author of The Message version of the Bible. Having grown up believing that the King James Version was the ONLY version worth reading, I resisted reading The Message for quite some time. I did read another book by Eugene Peterson some time ago and was super impressed. Recently, though, I have been so enjoying the Message version of the Bible. So I decided to find out more about the life of this amazing guy - I mean seriously, can you imagine translating the WHOLE Bible??? L ...more
Dec 01, 2011 Nicki rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of memoirs/biography
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this audio, there is so much depth to it that it can be listened to many times. I loved hearing the stories from Eugene Peterson’s childhood in Montana and as he got to grips with becoming a pastor. I love his honesty with the things he’s struggled with in his vocation, I also liked the way he described the changing face of the church in America through the years he was pastoring.
I had only heard of him in connection with ‘The Message Bible‘, so its been an fas
Teri Peterson
I loved how easy this was to read. I loved the trip down nostalgia-lane about the days when starting a new church would go the way it did for him. I loved the reflections on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, to be a member of a church, to be a pastor. Of course, his understanding of "pastor" is in some ways bound to his generation and to the ways of being church that were common 50 years ago, but many of his reflections are as current now as they would have been when he first started out. ...more
Sarah Klaassen
In this meandering memoir, Eugene Peterson invites us to take the long view. In a world of instant gratification, individualized priorities, and getting things done, this prolific writer tells the story of how he developed a pastoral imagination rooted in the art (and skill) of slowing down and paying attention.

From the early days learning the trade in his father’s Montana butcher shop, Peterson writes of the many ways he realized his life’s work, to attend more “to what God does than what I do
Robert D. Cornwall
It's a good book, and likely a necessary read for pastors. I'll have more to say in a longer review, but while I find a condescending attitude at times, he does lift up important elements of the pastoral life.

For a full review, check here.
First, some concerns. Eugene Peterson's blend of ecumenism and mysticism is problematic and often irritating. He has no problem associating in his "company of pastors" with Christian and Jew and from conservative to liberal. He praises Reformers like Luther and Calvin while then embracing the dangerous, experience-based mysticism of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila.

That said, his insights into Scripture and pastoral ministry are refreshing and spot on as he counters the commercialization of
Wendy C
I really liked his candor and I also like the way he writes and thinks. He will not give you the "evangelical" party line but is orthodox. He always has insights that make me think about things differently. Glad he writes...I need more writers like him !
Byron Fike
I've always felt a pastoral connection with Eugene Peterson. Reading his past books provided confirmation for my soul that the work I do as a Pastor is worth doing. I've always appreciated his emphasis upon spiritual development over and above the prevailing church culture's preoccupation with numerical growth and programmed Christianity. "The Pastor" provides the background for Peterson's life that I had been picking up in bits and pieces through his other books. It's nice to get the big pictur ...more
While this book seems large, the typeface and spacing makes it a very fast read. While I disagree with a lot of Peterson's theology and the way he handled different situations, this was a good read overall. This is an autobiography so it can get a tad arrogant at times. Spiritually challenging in some parts, and I'd recommend it.

Making it a 4 and not a 5: Peterson seems to jump between writing a pure account and spiritualizing his experiences. I'm fine with either, but one chapter goes one way a
Peterson is a poet and writes like one--descriptive and imaginative. Peterson is a pastor at heart and this book helped to affirm my calling as pastor. Though I have served in different roles both here and overseas, I see now that I have served out of a pastoral calling. And I feel fulfilled to continue to serve God that way for the rest of my days. A part of that pastoral life for me is to be a companion to others in their spiritual journey with Jesus. I look forward to small ways that I can en ...more
Tim Baumgartner
This is the 2nd book written by Eugene H. Peterson (Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work) besides occasionally reading The Message (a contemporary, vernacular American English paraphrased version of the Bible). I really like the way he thinks. It's different than a lot of people I read. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around his way of writing and thinking. It's very unique to say the least.

I am beginning to understand how and why he was able to write The Message. He had a special gift with la
Having read a few of Peterson’s books already I picked up an understanding that being a pastor was different than what I and a lot of other people have experienced with pastors. Peterson doesn’t worry about all the glitz and the glamour, though he was tempted with it at times early on. He focused on what being a pastor meant to a specific group of people that he would be sharing his life with. Learning that there were going to be gives and takes but that his main goal was to create a space and t ...more
Comfort food for the pastor's soul; challenging fare for a would-be messenger of the gospel. Peterson, best known as the translator of The Message paraphrase of the Bible, writes a beautiful memoir of life as a pastor.
Invisible six days a week; Incomprehensible the seventh - what exactly does a pastor do (and be)?
Peterson is our sage mentor, as his life of service strove to keep the vocation of pastor inoculated against the individualizing, consumerization of the pastoral calling (and church) i
Gavin Breeden
Eugene Peterson has had quite a profound impact on my life as a pastor simply because he wrote the excellent book, "The Contemplative Pastor," which came to me at exactly the right moment in life and I've since re-read multiple times. It gave me a perspective on ministry that I didn't know existed and it really helped confirm my own calling to the pastoral vocation. I don't agree with Peterson on everything (in fact, we disagree on some fairly big issues) and I haven't agreed with every word of ...more
Ben Mcfarland
In a way, Eugene Peterson has been a pastor to me. I first read his books (and "The Message," his translation of the Bible) when I came to Seattle and joined my church 16, 17 years ago now. Peterson's words are tangled up with my own pastor's words and I'm sure mixed up at some point. I used to seek out "The Message" to use in Bible readings for the congregation or Sunday School. Because I associate Peterson's writing with my own translocation to the Northwest, I found it particularly fitting th ...more
Josh Morgan
This review first appeared on my blog, Jacob's Café (

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an initial review of Eugene Peterson's memoir, The Pastor. I have finally finished it and absolutely loved it. While I am not in the role of professional clergy, this book hit home to me. If you want to know what my heart is as a psychologist and where I find meaning in life, read this book.

Peterson's book is a perfect example of how amazing of a writer he is. His prose becomes beautiful
This is a fine, beautifully written memoir by Eugene Peterson, best known for his "The Message" translations of the Bible. But it gets a little boring. Peterson has lived a meaningful, impactful life, but not one that necessarily makes for interesting reading. It is more interesting reading about his life BEFORE he settled in as a pastor than about his life AFTER.
Actually, his childhood in Montana is the most interesting part. Here's an excerpt from when he was in first grade. He was being bulli
Peterson's The Pastor is not a perfect and literary memoir. It is too episodic at times, has some rough edges, and does not let us get to know characters other than Peterson and his wife that well. But despite such criticism it is a remarkable book that digs into the nature of church leadership and even more importantly into the nature of the church. For Peterson has really written a kind of lived ecclesiology here, opening up deep understandings of worship and preaching and congregational life, ...more
Ben Zajdel
Eugene Peterson is well-known in the Christian world, and is probably most famous for translating The Message. He is also the author of numerous books, and for most of his life, has been a pastor.

The Pastor is Peterson's memoir, along with insights on what it means to be a pastor. From his childhood in Montana to beginning his career in New York to a pastorate in Maryland, we are treated to the thoughts and memories of Peterson throughout his life.

This is like two books in one--a biography of
Debbie Ardan
Not just for pastors. For any Truth-seeker. Check out Eugene's stories about his mom preaching in the logging camps. His butcher-father-priest in his blood-stained apron, doling out free meat to the needy in Kalispell. About how he converted the school bully by bloodying his nose. An extraordinary memoir from the translator of The Message. His message will move you and move you towards doing more with your mundane faithfulness.
A good friend characterized this as "a book for Pastors giving them permission to be Pastors." That seems about right. In Peterson's words, "In the seemingly random and disconnected pieces of experience [...] that make up daily life, words and sentences detect and reveal and fashion stories in places of hospitality." This memoir is the telling of Peterson's story. And it's an encouraging one to drink in.

If you're a minister add it to your list.
Toto Mak
I strongly recommend to fellow pastors or ministry workers. As a pastor'a wife, I can relate with a lot of the joy and challenges Eugene and Jan Peterson faces as a pair of pastor's couple. Eugene helps me understand my husband's journey as a pastor and give me directions to face some of the current challenges with my husband. Jane's faithfulness of her unique calling as a pastor's wife also helps me embrace my own calling as a pastor's wife. It's amazing how Eugene Peterson continues to pastor ...more
As the title suggests, this is more a vocational autobiography than a straight memoir, and that leaves gaps in parts of Peterson's personal story that beg to be filled in (l kept waiting for more about his own children, discussion of struggle in his marriage, etc). But the overall arc of Peterson's discovery of his pastoral calling is beautiful, encouraging and incredibly instructive for anyone thinking about calling and vocation, including, especially, pastors or those thinking of pursuing voca ...more
Steven Wedgeworth
I didn't love this book. Peterson writes in a winsome and inviting manner, but much of the book seemed, well, fictional. I don't question the people or the events, but the dialogue and the clarity of reflection seemed too scripted. It's also a bit off-putting to see which issues and sins Peterson is wholly oblivious to. I still think his "contemplative" pastor model is on target, but I would recommend other books to get the best of that.
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Eugene H. Peterson is a pastor, scholar, author, and poet. For many years he was James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College. He also served as founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland. He has written over thirty books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language a contemporary translation of t ...more
More about Eugene H. Peterson...
The Message Remix (Bible in Contemporary Language) A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology (Spiritual Theology #1) Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (Spiritual Theology #2) The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction (The Pastoral series, #4)

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“The vocation of pastor(s) has been replaced by the strategies of religious entrepreneurs with business plans.” 11 likes
“Classically, there are three ways in which humans try to find transcendence--religious meaning--apart from God as revealed through the cross of Jesus: through the ecstasy of alcohol and drugs, through the ecstasy of recreational sex, through the ecstasy of crowds. Church leaders frequently warn against the drugs and the sex, but at least, in America, almost never against the crowds.” 5 likes
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