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Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry as a Human Being

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  248 ratings  ·  42 reviews
In a style reminiscent of Donald Miller and Eugene Peterson, pastor turned professor Zack Eswine knows what burnout looks like and writes out of heartfelt concern for those in full-time ministry. Eswine draws on personal stories of crisis, shares openly about his own failures, and communicates honestly about what he has seen throughout his twenty years in ministry, providi ...more
Paperback, 318 pages
Published November 30th 2012 by Crossway Books
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4.33  · 
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 ·  248 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Because this book was written for pastors, I probably wouldn't have picked it up on my own. It was recommended on a blog I read as a great book to encourage moms in their ministry to their husbands and children. The review of the the book really sparked my interest, but I was not expecting to find so many heart-checks and challenges in this simple encouragement to live out our ministry the way Christ did. The book touches on so many aspects of how this needs to be applied, but the foundational c ...more
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't know of a more humane book about the Christian life. Grace saturated words that restore my hope in the Lord to work with me and through me to do his will. I've never read a book that did a better job of recognizing the limits and humiliations of being human. Maybe some day I'll rip off this idea and write a similarly humane book for mothers, because I think there are a lot of women who need the heart of this book but applied to life as a human mother.

A little meandering, at times a litt
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
I never would have picked up this book, but for the recommendation on the Girl Talk blog {I respect the Mahaney women's choices of books!} It is a book written to pastors, but I found its relevance to me as a mama, wife, blogger, and missionary astounding.
A completely refreshing look at doing ministry {YES, you are a minister if you are a mama}, in the way of Jesus as opposed to our current Christian culture of bigger is better, "build your platform and they will come", and an over-focus on cele
Jul 23, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a difficult book to review. I've heard Zack preach, teach, sing, etc., so I know what he's capable of. This book has a decent amount of good advice for the pastor, but he seems to make it as difficult as possible to ferret out. He has intentionally written in a 'round-the-bush sort of way. What he is most direct about is his own failings and mistakes along the way, which is refreshing.

So what did I learn? We are not the Christ. We cannot be everywhere, know everything, fix everything. Th
Ryan J.
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read for any pastor or Christian leader that wants to walk as an apprentice of Jesus. Zack's book is beautifully written and is very practical. He wants us to come back to being humans, and remember how Jesus is renewing our humanness. We don't have to be superhuman or super-spiritual to be known by our God, or useful in the world. Take and read!
Jul 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This book wasn't bad. It urges fellow ministers to slow down, keep sights on Jesus, and not let fame/ego/instant gratification cloud ministry goals. Throughout the book Zach Eswine weaves in cautionary tales from his own past and I think that's where the book shines brightest, when he's describing what to avoid.

This may sound like a surface issue but it severely impacted my reading experience: I wish the chapters were shorter. I got lost within the chapters because they kept going and going. For
Shaela Woody
Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Shaela by: Sarah Moss
Wasn't crazy about his writing style (too much description) but I did really appreciate his thoughts on what it means to be finite human beings - to have limits, and how that is a good and God-ordained state for us. The book is marketed to pastors and others in full-time ministry, but as the author points out, nearly everything he writes applies perfectly well to the ordinary Christian. Kinda devotional and meditative, not really the kind of book I naturally gravitate to, but I definitely benefi ...more
Joe Haack
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The personal parables, the biblical insights, and the gracious corrections that shape this book were hard-won and oh-so-very expensive. While slow-cooking in this sane book, I was very often overwhelmed with gratitude: "what a helpful book; what a beautiful book; what a courageous book!" I place this beside Dave Hansen's Art of Pastoring and anticipate more earmarks and marginalia on its already well-worn pages (if I don't give it away first).
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this book based on the recommendation of a friend and I'm glad I did. I really love the way Eswine pens the thoughts and processes of Jesus' example in mentoring us. Beautiful word pictures. I was really encouraged and upheld by the candid ways our human failures allow Jesus to shine brightly in and through us as we slow down, listen, have patience, and let Him lead us in leading others.
Mar 06, 2013 added it
I'm not putting it dramatically when I say that I turned to this book to tell me what I knew I needed to hear before I ran myself right out of the ministry through idolatrous anxiety and godless striving after the wind. It was all I hoped it would be. Thank you, Zach Eswine. Words fitly spoken…
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Over the years, certain books feel like a person you meet and you know immediately that you'll become fast friends. This book joined that pile after just a few pages. I can't adequately express how helpful and soul-nourishing this book has been for me.
Bauer Evans
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Zack is a sensitive author and physician of the soul. For the 'burned out' or 'bummed out', it speaks volumes. Read it slowly for it will put hope about the future back into your present too.
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book deserves careful, slow, reflective reading and re-reading. Probably the best book on pastoral ministry I've read.
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Zack Eswine's book helps us think about what it means to do life and ministry as a human being. He's "a bit of a hippie," as one of my friends says, and the "style reminiscent of Donald Miller and Eugene Peterson" should raise some flags, but his book at least raises some questions to think about. Being human means being limited, rooted, and - for all of us after the fall - flawed. Being human means being yourself and not running out of breath trying to be someone else. It means being in one pla ...more
A worthwhile read, especially for those training for pastoral ministry. The author's life-anecdotes were helpful and his ability to draw out the significance of the common and overlooked corners of life was especially poignant. The lengthy discussion of how unhelpful it is when we try to imitate God's incommunicable attributes (e.g. omnipresence, omniscience, etc.) was really good. However, it seemed the author was trying to be too creative with his prose and vocabulary, and that proved distract ...more
Richard Mounce
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great stuff
Scott Kennedy
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
This book makes some fantastic points about ministry, and although it seems aimed at pastors, I think many of the points made are relevant for all Christians.

One theme that he hammered was "You are not the Christ." He showed how we try to be every where, fix everything and know everything, and encourages us to realise that we cannot and to realise our humanness.

He challenged our natural tendency to assume that a bigger church is blessed more than a smaller church. He challenged our celebrity i
Ken Mcafee
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ken by: Jerram Barrs
I will be "chewing" on this book for some time yet. If you read only one book on "doing ministry" this year, make it this one. Zack's humility and hard-learned lessons are invaluable to anyone in the ministry, or trying simply to live follow Jesus Christ as a human being. I have wondered where my place in ministry is, but Zack's statement on how the shepherds in Bethlehem responded helps me understand perhaps: "God's visitation empowers us to return [to our normal lives] and live."
We should be y
Scott Burns
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book provides some good insights, but I really dislike the writing style.

Eswine challenges us to resist our temptations to be God-like in ministry by trying to be everywhere, know everything, and fix everything. Challenging us instead to slow down, be present, and trust Jesus to do the work.

It's a simple enough message, interspersed with vulnerable self-disclosure, and many thought-provoking questions. However, it is overly verbose, highly poetic, laden with (poetic) jargon. Those who appr
Gavin McGrath
Jul 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Certain sections and themes of this book were a tonic for me, as a pastor with over 30 years bumpy experience. I resonated with sections. Other parts didn't work for me. I think it is his style. There are points when he seems to try sounding poetic but I missed it. Still, an essential read for pastors, his Americanisms not to the contrary. He is an honest writer who knows grace, mercy, and the Lord Jesus.
Sep 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Eswine has set before us a call to be human. To be united with Christ, mentored by him and made to be fully human. It is an important message for those in ministry and I value the time I spent reading and letting the message sink in.

The structure of the book made reading a lengthy process. To be fair, Eswine warns of this fact. With each chapter I was waiting for a break but he kept going. I needed to digest this truth but I needed it to be more digestible in form.
Ben Duncan
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
It seems many ministers try to be something other than human as they serve. This book is all about embracing and ministering out of a self-awareness of our humanity. The author's authenticity and sincerity are evident on every page. A very good read for both those in ministry and those preparing for it.
Daniel Souza
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this book is to me the epitome of a love/hate relationship. The author is exceedingly wordy at times, perhaps even flowery. But the message of the book was an incredibly timely one for my soul and the current season of my life. He gracefully reminds us, especially pastors, of our humanity. We are embodied souls with God-given limitations, and this is a good thing. Grateful to have read it...
Cody Alan
Jul 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Ok. Not bad. Didn't finish all of it. The best part was the conversation about "know it alls" and this idea of doing the right thing, the right way, at the right time. Incredibly powerful and helpful truths. I'm not a "senses" guy so the book was a little weird in that sense. Great stuff overall tho.
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Much needed book. Written for pastor's, but could be read by anyone with a desire to minister in some capacity. I soaked up his words like a balm to my soul. He is gutsy, honest, reflective and patient with his readers. His use of scripture is solid. Beautifully written; I would recommend this book to anyone.
Nathan Brewer
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sensing who Jesus is and understanding who I am

This is a must read for especially young young ministers. It would do the church well for us all to read it and get a sense of who God is and what he has called us to be- servants in the trenches.
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book got better and better. What stands out most is Eswine's raw honesty. He calls us to ministry that is born out of understanding our own fragile humanity and learning to love the broken and fragile humans that inhabit the ministries to which Jesus has called us.
Barb Dillard
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have to say that this book ranks at the top of my list for spiritual depth and excellence in writing. His command of language intrigued and drew me in. I will read this again and again. No other book has had such an impact.
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
although written mainly for Pastors, of which I am not, this book was filled with sound doctrine and humble honesty. It was raw and painful for me to read at times, but the overarching grace, humility and mercy of Jesus is what came through!!
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Humanity and Jesus

Great book in what it means to be human and how Jesus reclaims and redeems our humanity in a fallen world
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zack is an author, pastor and mentor seeking words for living humanly in Jesus.
“Something in me hates this confession. I do not think that I am alone in this. Twitter, Facebook, virtual conferencing—these allow us the illusion of being somewhere other than where we are. Positively we have a voice in places otherwise absent to us. But we type on our keyboards while sitting in a chair where we are—the local knowledge and work of the day in our place awaiting our presence. The danger here is that it allows us to give our gifts without giving ourselves.” 4 likes
“Therefore, those of you searching for something larger, faster, and more significant, who feel that if you could just be somewhere else doing something else as somebody else, then your life would really matter—Jesus has come to confound you.” 2 likes
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