Book Review: The Pastor-A Memoir
Author: Eugene Peterson
Publisher: Harper One ISBN: 9780061988202
I had wanted to read this book, The Pastor by Eugene Peterson, for awhile. I’ve actually had it on my bookshelf for some time now, but had some other books I needed to read for some courses I was taking. I was not disappointed. The book is slightly over three hundred pages, but it read incredibly fast for me. It was as if I were sitting in the Peterson’s living room listening to “Pastor Pete” talk to me personally about his path of ministry through the years. This scenario wasn’t too hard to imagine. A couple years ago I had the very real privilege of meeting Eugene Peterson and his wife, Jan, and share a meal with them…sorta. I was in an airport in San Antonio, TX following a conference by Renovare’ and had stopped for a bite to eat. As I was looking for a place to sit down I spotted the Petersons. Probably acting a little bold, I asked if I could join them and they graciously said yes. They had pretty much finished their meal, but were kind enough to allow me to hang out with them for a bit while we waited for our respective flights. The point of this “name dropping” isn’t to boast about my meeting the Petersons, but to share what happened during the meeting. While I visited with the Petersons, Eugene and Jan, both acted as pastors to me for the short time that I shared their company. And, this is what the book is about.
In this memoir, Peterson shares the arc of growing into his vocation as Pastor. The theme that develops and follows his life is “Every step an arrival.” What he means by this every step… is each moment, if we are alert and aware, is a moment that God uses to speak to us and speak into us about who we are and what we are created for. I think Pastor Pete caught on to this reality early in his ministry and development as a pastor. I think this because he opened himself and surrendered himself to the reshaping and molding that was necessary for this vocation to become rooted in him and actually becoming him in an inseparable distinction. Eugene Peterson is a pastor, pastor is not what he does it is who he is…even now he is still a pastor because he is pastoring and mentoring me (as well as thousands of others as well). The book and the man who wrote it are as real as it gets.
I mentioned the book being a fast read, the reason for this is not only because the movement of the story is engrossing, but also because most of the chapters are fairly short. Peterson writes about the events in his life that shaped his pastoral formation. Most of the events are small snippets and vignettes from his past that he doesn’t go into a lot of detail about…simply sharing the portions that are pertinent to his life becoming a pastor. I like that. This manner of recounting his life and spiritual formation was helpful to me, urging me to reflect and take notice of the events, milestones, and situations where I could recognize God’s hand and gentle intervention in my own life trying to get my attention and shape me into the person He had created me to be. This, in my opinion, is the sign of a great book and probably the reason I enjoyed it so much. I don’t know if everyone who reads this book will connect with it as I have, but I will say the man who wrote it is authentic and that says a lot. Eugene Peterson is The Pastor.
Over the years I’ve added book after book from Pastor Eugene to my library. His pastoral series and his spiritual theology series are always some of my most recommended books to others who aspire to grow in the grace and ministry of spiritual direction and leadership. I’m glad I had the opportunity to meet him and I’m glad I had the opportunity to know him better through his memoir. I’ll bet you’ll feel similarly after reading this book too.