The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction (The Pastoral series, #4)
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The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction (The Pastoral #4)

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  710 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Are you caught in the business of preaching, teaching, and running the church? Then Peterson, a pastors pastor, will speak words of refreshment and wisdom to your heart! His chapters begin with poetic reflections on the Beatitudes and then address themes such as curing souls, praying with eyes open, the language of prayer, the ministry of small talk, and sabbatical---all i...more
Paperback, 179 pages
Published October 22nd 1993 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (first published 1989)
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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...more
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...more
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...more
Jake Belder
I really, really like Peterson's writing. Because I can't actually be mentored by him, his writing performs that function for me. That being said, this isn't the best book I've read by him. The first half of the book is very good, as he tries to redefine what it means to be a pastor, rescuing the definition from the commercialized form it has taken in (particularly American) culture. He emphasizes the need for a pastor to really root themselves in a local community, and to embed themselves firml...more
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.
Andrew Canavan
I usually run in the other direction when I encounter a book with "contemplative" in the title. Anything by Eugene Peterson is worth reading, though, and I'm glad I stuck with this one. Like many books (and the others in this series) this is Peterson's vision for what pastoral ministry could and should be. Peterson is at his absolute best when he is interacting with Scripture, and there's not much of that in this book. It is still a worthwhile read, however, and has many important and striking i...more
Not long ago a few new words broke into my broken ministry paradigm – Prayer, Poetry, Parable. Eugene Peterson in his book The Contemplative Pastor seeks to redefine the 21st century job description of a pastor. To return it to a practice of presence, of being, of breaking from the societal norms. He does this not only through a set of beliefs, but also in a way of living.

“Words are the real work of the world – prayer words with God, parable words with men and women.”
“Words making truth, not jus...more
David Campton
Torn in rating this between giving it 3 and 4 stars... Actually in some places it deserves 7 out of 5 because it punctures all the "leadership" nonsense that is prevalent in the western church today and points pastors back to their primary callings of preaching, prayer and pastoral care. I suppose the only reasons I marked it down were for issues of personal preference: I found his lengthy hagiography of Annie Dillard unnecessary, although again, he made some valid points in that section... But...more
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...more
Jeff Bjorgan
Peterson continues to remind me of the reasons I became a pastor in the first place. First written in 1989, the book is basically a series of essays on the pastoral life. Playing off of a popular Peterson thing to do, I would insert the word "believer" every time I read the word "pastor". This is a book that is applicable to all those who are looking for encouragement in sticking with principles and priorities, who are wanting to learn habits of Christian living for the other six days of the wee...more
I really would not have ever picked up a Eugene Peterson book if it had not been recommended to me by a pastor friend/mentor.

Peterson really does have a lot to offer in this area. This book was really helpful to me.

Here's something that spurred a whole lot of thought:

"The happy result of a theological understanding of people as sinners is that the pastor is saved from continual surprise that they are in fact sinners."

It was a great and challenging excursion into my approach that followed reading...more
A wonderful read for quiet moments between meetings at our last denominational gathering. The book is a mini-retreat. I'm looking forward to others in the series. I appreciate the Pastor's words for other pastors.
Derek Hughes
Frustrating and challenging in equal measure.

Anyone who reads modern church leadership books (eg Bill Hybells, Rick Warren) needs to read Peterson as a counterbalance.
Peter N.
This is a difficult book to rate. Some of his underlying theology is atrocious. But the message of this particular book is essential for pastoring in the 21st century. Peterson takes the pastor back to his basic role. He encourages us to focus on the Word, prayer, and counseling. The rest is extra and usually unnecessary. He completely rejects the administrative view of pastoring that is so common today. His emphasis on prayer is a necessary rebuke to so much prayer less pastoring. Prayer is rar...more
Read this as part of my training study group. It seemed very disjointed. There were a few wee gems of advice and they were few and far between.
Russ McDonald
I bought this book on a whim because I recognized the author's name. I was leaving seminary and about to embark on my new life as minister. I'm glad I bought it. More than ever, Peterson made me want to be a pastor. He challenges pastors to live unbusy lives, lives that are marked by living in prayer, Scripture reading, and contemplation. He does not mean unbusy in a lazy sense, but in the sense that we do not live our lives rushing to place to place, never cognizant of where we are and who we a...more
James Harmeling
Peterson is a master writer. He writes with deliberate selection of each word, has keen observation skills, and beautifully utilizes metaphor for spiritual insights. This book is a short collection of essays on ministry that is designed to avoid quick fixes and immediate solutions. He wants pastors to value their calling and understand its purpose in the life of their flock. I was enriched and challenged to walk through life and take time to consider and reflect on creation and on God. The chapt...more
Insightful and helpful in practical ways.
David Mills
A book I re-read every year.
Terry Cave
To be honest I found this book very tough.

It was written in a style that did not sit well with me and found myself drifting off, many times.

I think it was the fact that the author felt he had to use extreme long "impressive" words all the time, which was very off putting.

If you are the "academic" type, then you will most likely like this book a lot more than I did.

I found the content a little messy and honestly found it hard to see what the author was getting at some of the time.

Too much fluff f...more
Mike Print
A book everyone in full-time Christian ministry should read, but especially those who are ordained! First rate, and much needed.
Stuart Jennings
Wow this is a book to shock and stun all those who allow themselves to become busy pastors/ministers. Systematically we are stripped of our egos and poor diary control to explore what it means to be a minister of Christ instead of just doing ministry. Helpful, inspiring, challenging and at times discomforting. A book that embodies all that spirituality, pastoral studies and theology ought to be
Really liked this book - we read it as a pastoral staff. Peterson is a beautiful writer. He is also a pastor that I don't feel is a very good model -- he limits his church size, he doesn't go to meetings, he doesn't participate in community events. It would be easy to be contemplative if you spent your time like he does. Except, I just don't have the same kind of time . . .
Jon Swanson
I keep going back to this book. Peterson reminds me of what it means to be about caring for souls more than running a church. He focuses on praying, preaching, and listening early in the book, and then keeps emphasizing the importance of helping people learn to pray. Not in formulas, in conversation. Peterson is doing spiritual direction in the form of a book.
Matt Chapman

Refreshing and insightful in many places while missing the mark in many others. Some parts are worth reading slowly and thoughtfully and returning to again in the future. Some parts are better skim read or skipped over all together. Over all though this should be a refreshing read for pastors who are willing to sift the good from the bad.
Great book. Particularly petersons take on stopping our temptation to fix others, and instead return to the calling of a pastor - to provide cure for the soul. His poetic approach at times is too eclectic for my taste, but still worth a read as it will challenge your thinking on what it means to lead in the church.
Peterson is a poet. This book should be retitled though. Perhaps The Poet-Pastor: Returning to Semantic Responsibility. I'm not sure.

A good read, but didn't get much about spiritual direction from it. Not sure how that became the subtitle. I must have missed something.

Jacob Atchley
While I don't agree with everything Peterson writes his care and thoughtfulness are oh so helpful. Chapters 2 and 13 are the strongest in the book.

Peterson, along with Calvin Miller and Charles Jefferson, has heavily influenced my understanding of pastoral ministry.
Sean Higgins
I wanted to love this book. I didn't. I probably would have a decade ago. It feels like he uses mountains and poems to be a better gnostic, which is ironic. I do appreciate Peterson's emphasis on prayer. I don't appreciate his monastic bent.
Brad Mills
This was a great book on keeping pastoral ministry simple. I was encouraged by Peterson's stubborn commitment to the spiritual nature of ministry. This is one I will read again after several more years of ministry and probably learn twice as much.
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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 Pastor: A Memoir

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“Isn't it interesting that all of the biblical prophets and psalmists were poets?” 5 likes
“My job is not to solve people's problems or make them happy, but to help them see the grace operating in their lives.” 4 likes
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