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Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity (The Pastoral series, #2)
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Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity (The Pastoral #2)

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  739 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
Eugene Peterson issues a provocative call for pastors to abandon their preoccupation with image and standing, administration, success, and economic viability, and to return to the three basic acts critical to the pastoral ministry: praying, reading Scripture, and giving spiritual direction.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 28th 1989 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (first published April 30th 1987)
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Eric Chappell
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-reading
Stop reading this review, and go buy this book. Now.

Using a mathematical metaphor, Eugene Peterson gives readers a trigonometry of pastoral ministry. The lines of the pastoral calling are preaching, teaching, administration, etc. But without angles, there is no triangle. Without the angles of prayer, Scripture reading, and giving spiritual direction, pastoral ministry is mere religious shop-keeping. In a culture where everything is defined by busyness Peterson reminds those in ministry that our
Jan 03, 2011 rated it liked it
This was my first time to read Peterson, and while it would have been impossible for this book to live up to the hype I've heard about his writing, I really did enjoy it. It's targeted at a very specific audience to which I no longer belong - the professional pastor. However, having served in some form of that capacity for close to a decade, I was very easily able to relate to his "angle", as it were.

The book is divided into three basic sections which examine foundations of the pastoral vocatio
Kessia Reyne
May 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school
Eugene H. Peterson looms giant on the landscape of modern American Christianity. He is a Presbyterian pastor, but also the author of several well-known books and the man behind The Message (a hugely popular paraphrase of the Bible). Peterson is the man every evangelical author wishes to be: successful, deep, respected (and probably wealthy). I’ve come across Peterson’s work in bits and pieces, always awed at even the elegance of his subtitles, but never delving into a full-length work before th ...more
Jan Anne
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read this if you want to be a pastor or hold a spiritual position. (or when you have to read it for your class, but it was great).
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Subtance: 4/5
Readability: 5/5

Working the Angles is the last book of ten I read for a Pastoral Ministry class at my seminary at which I am a student. When I read the introduction, I admit I winced a bit. The book starts with “American pastors are abandoning their posts, left and right, at an alarming rate.” Not only is the phrase painfully truthful, but the so much of our class' required reading is about the negativity and dark side of ministry. Peterson’s starting sentence forced me to immediate
Luke Miller
Jun 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ministry
Second book in Peterson's pastoral series. I liked this one better than the first. Put these books down for causing mild cases of intellectual whiplash. I found myself bouncing between deep concern and deep gratitude. Parts of this book brought on moments of intense introspection, while others brought on angry arguments with the page. In the end, Peterson consistently calls pastor to embrace a biblical and relational view of ministry, not a pragmatic and organizational one. For this, I am deeply ...more
Mike Awtry
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book on pastoral ministry. My personal highlights were everything he had on prayer, letting the Scriptures speak to us rather than treating it with a consumer mindset, and the last chapter on how not to approach spiritual direction.
Evan McCord
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Not an easy read but insightful and legit. I like what Peterson has to say.
Demetrius Rogers
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ministry
This is as close as it gets to my personal philosophy of ministry.
Noah Schumacher
Nov 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading for anyone in ministry or Christian leadership. I'd give it 6 stars if possible.
Todd Wilhelm
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
"I shelved but did not quite abandon hope for matters in the spiritual life, for mentors in prayer, for experienced companions in the soul's itinerary.
And then I began to find them, one by one, here and there. In obscure corners of libraries far from the best-seller racks. In quiet, easy-to-overlook persons well out of the promotional limelight. I read. I listened. I discovered people who were at the same time sane and devout, disciplined and mature, intelligent and wise. There were not many of
This book is required reading for the Brite Divinity 2017 Fall semester "Supervised Ministry" experience - it is now very well highlighted, as I found many ideas that brought to mind effective and not so effective pastors who have crossed my path through the years. I was particularly impressed by Peterson's presentation of the importance of a pastor having a spiritual director, and observing a day of Sabbath each week (and not necessarily on Sunday, as they usually have to work then). -----From ...more
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I took a month to read this short book. I suppose I needed some time to stretch and practice what I was reading. Peterson brings years of practical wisdom to this work. He calls pastors to be about the work of being fed and feeding.
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a book that is written for pastors and though I am not a pastor I came across this book, picked it up, and became immersed in it. I have no desire to be a pastor yet this book has many gems that are for everyone. In this book Peterson looks at three angles of Pastoral ministry: prayer, scripture, and spiritual direction.

Though written in the late 80’s the concerns Peterson addresses in this book are still concerns for today. Pastors tend to lean towards being shopkeepers or office manage
Peter Migner
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Good book. Especially the first half.
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this for my first Seminary class and for some reason I took it negatively. I would like to find that paper and find out why it struck such a nerve, because re-reading it I find it challenging and inspiring. All pastors can fall into a rut, but Pastor Peterson always opens my eyes to what is really going on in what we are fortunate enough to do and challenges and encourages me to do better. I honestly think every pastor should read one of his books every year. Reading it in 2013, there is ...more
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pastoring
This was one of those few books where I say after reading it: "Where has this been all my life?"
Peterson writes in response to cultural trends of the '80s, much of which we still see in established Evangelical churches today - showy professionalism, activism, pragmatism, etc.

Instead of these, Peterson reflects on the "angles" that givr shape to pastoral ministry: prayer, Scripture, and spiritual direction.
In discussing prayer, he shows how central prayer was to Hebrew life, how useful the Psalm
Mar 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I'm proud of myself for only intending to read part of this book at this time. Instead of opening to the beginning, I have turned immediately to the third of the three sections, "Spiritual Direction," and hope to soak up and put to use some of Peterson's wisdom in this area.

Turns out I read the whole thing!

I particularly liked Peterson's "Prayer" and "Scripture" because they begin in unexpected places: "Prayer" begins with a lengthy history lesson, first contrasting Hebrew prayer with Greek sto
Nov 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
November 10, 2009: It's hard to believe this was written over twenty years ago-- Working the Angles is a timely reminder that regardless of where a Pastor finds his ministry, it will ultimately fail if not built on three "angles." Those three angles are not surprising, but are often forgotten in the quest for nickels and noses. The angles are: Prayer, Scripture Study, and Spiritual Direction.

Peterson describes ministry as a triangle. The three angles mentioned above direct the three sides of tea
Oct 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Peterson has some wise words to offer from his decades of pastoral experience. He argues that the three most important pastoral functions are 1)prayer, 2)Scripture, and 3)spiritual direction. These are the "angles" that form the shape of pastoral ministry, while the lines of the triangle represent the visible ministries of teaching, preaching, and administration. Peterson says that it's easy for pastors to fake real ministry by doing the visible things that people expect them to do, while not ac ...more
Joshua D.
Oct 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Peterson is a pastor to pastors, and in this book looks at the particular vocational responsibilities of pastoral ministry. He concludes that though there are thousands of things that will beckon for our time, the primary work of the pastor resides under three headings: prayer, attentiveness to Scripture, and spiritual direction. The book is broken out in 9 chapters, 3 each under those main headings. Peterson is a gifted writer, and his critique of the modern pastor as CEO model is scathing. At ...more
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book joins my short-shelf of the three or four best pastor-ing books I've ever read. I'm thankful for my pastor-mentor's recommendation.

Peterson holds that the "triangle" pastoral ministry, whatever the context, has three essential "angles": prayer, reading Scripture (aloud), and spiritual direction. Context will determine how far this angles are from one another, giving each pastor's ministry a different shape. But the angle must be there; otherwise, what you're doing is not pastoral minis
Ryan Strebeck
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was probably the first EP book I heard about, yet i just got around to it this year. I found in this book some of the most strong pastoral rebukes I've ever received in literature. Like any good sage, though, Peterson doesn't rant but rather offers discipline and correction that will help recover what he believes gets lost in every pastoral generation - paying attention to God, and doing what we have been ordained to do.

Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Helps the pastor to work through the three main areas the pastor should be focused on: Prayer, Scripture and Spiritual Direction. I felt like Peterson was very honest about his own struggles in ministry and how we should learn from those struggles to realize our main task as pastors. I would definitely recommend it for people who are pastors, and other leaders within a variety of ministries to help keep their focus. Definitely re-reading this book.
Aug 14, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those working in Ministry
The three angles Peterson wants ministers of the Gospel to return to are Scripture, Prayer, and what he terms "Spiritual direction" (basically, leading people you're ministering to into a deeper understanding of how God is working in your life). Some of the discussions are rather abstract (I found scripture the most indirect), but at times very powerful. Prayer was an excellent section, and spiritual direction is great for those who do a lot of one-on-one ministry.
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
For someone barely beginning to gain his footing in pastoral ministry this book was a godsend! In it Peterson contends that the work of a pastor is to develop a listening awareness of God and that this is to be cultivated in Scripture, prayer, and spiritual direction. In these ways we learn to be alert to God's presence and activity not only in our own lives, but in the lives of the men and women we serve.
Jan 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: pastors
Recommended to Mark by: no one
'Eugene Peterson issues a provocative call for pastors to abandon their preoccupation with image and standing, administration, success, and economic viability, and to return to the three basic acts critical to the pastoral ministry: praying, reading Scripture, and giving spiritual direction.'

- from Visual Bookshelf summary
Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those in personal ministry
Very challenging in the sense that as a pastor/spiritual director Petersen really confronts us with the laziness of our group. That is Do I really understand how to pray and read the Bible and when I "direct" someone am I just applying rote lessons or am I seriously helping my friend take the next step to deep faith.
Lee Bertsch
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
First read this book 25 years ago. How many highly touted Christian books I have read ended up being completely forgettable. In this case I was surprised how much of this book has lingered with me over those years and how compelling it was to read again. Peterson remains one of my most significant mentors though I have never so much as shaken his hand.
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Peterson is great here on Prayer and Spiritual Direction. I felt his Scripture section leaving me hungry for "how tos". The benefit of this book was not in what I learned but how I felt after reading it. I want to be quiet and hear from the LORD, I want to be more attentive to people. I would recommend this book to any pastor who feels they are in a rut or in need of spiritual nourishment.
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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...

Other Books in the Series

The Pastoral (4 books)
  • Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work (The Pastoral series, #1)
  • Under the Unpredictable Plant an Exploration in Vocational Holiness (The Pastoral series, #3)
  • The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction (The Pastoral series, #4)

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