Working the Angles

Well, I finally finished a book I started last fall by Eugene Peterson called Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity. I have an annoying habit of starting a book and then starting 5 more and taking forever to finish any of them. Anyway, this is an incredible book! I've read a ton of books on church life, theology, devotion, and anything else to do with Christianity that most pastors read. But I believe this is probably one of the first books I've ever read that told me what should be my priorities as a pastor. Or what I should be devoting my life to as a pastor. It's nothing earth-shattering, but it IS at the same time, because so few writers write about it and so few teachers teach about it.

Peterson calls all pastors back to what pastors have done for centuries before, but have forgotten or lost interest in in this modern era of mega-churches and trendy religion. Three things: prayer, scripture reading, and spiritual direction. He reminds us that pastors are to be, first and foremost, men who are personally committed to the practice of prayer and scripture reading (because we can't lead people where we're not going ourselves). And secondly, we need to be spiritual guides to the people that God has placed in our path. These things may or may not result in a mega-church (God will choose to give the increase or not), but everything else we do should be secondary to those three.

Unfortunately, what happens for me and pretty much everyone else is that we spend all of our time marketing our church and it's programs. Creating programs and facilitating events to keep people happy or excited or feeling like their church is as great as the one down the street. I'm not suggesting that some of these things don't have their place, but most of us spend so much time on these that we can only hope to have a few minutes in the week to accomplish what should be our biggest priority: prayer, Scripture reading, and spiritual direction.

I especially enjoyed, and was convicted by, the chapter in the Prayer unit that he dedicated to the subject of taking a Sabbath. Most pastors I know don't even take a day off, much less a true Sabbath. He wrote that we need to train our people to the idea that we need a day of the week to observe Sabbath, so that we can continue to help them observe their Sabbath day. I take Mondays off (sometimes), but I don't necessarily spend that time listening to the Father or really rejunenating my spirit. I need to make this a non-negotiable part of my life.

Anyway - great book. Every pastor should read this!!!

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