The Contemplative Pastor



            Eugene H. Peterson, a pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church has earned a reputation as being thoughtful and an articulate pastor who understands spiritual discipline and communication practice. He has biblical language background and he has done doctoral level course works at Magisterial William F. Albert; on the other hand, he has refused to be recognized as someone who has expertise in biblical scholarship (pp. 12).


            This book report endeavors to give the synopsis of The Contemplative Pastor. It gives delineations on spirituality and place, spirituality and creativity, spirituality and community, spirituality and subversion, redefinitions, the unbusy pastor, the subversive pastor, the apocalyptic pastor, ministry amid the traffic, the curing souls, praying with eyes open, first language, is growth a decision, the small of small talk, lashed to the mast, desert and harvest, and poets and pastor and poems. Each of these headings is selectively summarized based on selected material contents serving as the main idea of the selected contents. Indeed, the following explanation is the detailed summary of the book.


            With respect to spirituality and place, the Christian spirituality means living in the mature wholeness of the gospel. It signifies taking all elements of one’s life which includes children, spouse, job, weather, possessions, relationships and experiencing them as an act of faith. God desires all the materials of our lives (pp. 12). Spirituality is being aware of what one is about to do and giving oneself to Him to be used. The Christian’s decision to give himself to God in every aspects of life situation despite of unfavorable condition prevailing is the mark of a spiritual individual who knows his or her identity and what he or she has been called to do and to be.

The Christian spirituality is not only tied to a place, but it is also tied to creativity. While God requires the Christians to be spiritual, he also desires that the Christian be creative; unfortunately, creativity is difficult because it has to do with something that has not existed and requires Christians to be persistent and consistent. How many of the Christians today have these spiritual qualities?

Spirituality is not only tied to a place, but it also tied to community. True spirituality is not based on solitary prayer, but it is based on community that worships and prays together. This reminds the church of Christ regarding evangelization of communities which is the spiritual responsibility the church has of enhancing and improving the spiritual richness of families, communities, provinces, states, nations, and the world at large. For this reason, one’s spirituality requires prayers offered on the persistent and consistent level for God to make this to become a reality; as the result, prayers offered should be subversive in that when offered, nothing in this world (Satanic attacks or evil) can stand against it and succeed as the result of God’s sovereignty.

In part one of the books, the author gives delineation of the term “pastor” in the American context based on how some pastors live that are not in conformity with biblical lifestyles. The word pastor in the American society has been treated differently by the ways pastors live; therefore, the author refuses to be called a pastor, but he looks at scripture to model his life after; consequently, he categorizes the noun pastor as a weak noun.

He categorizes pastors as being unbusy. The term is used against pastor who deals with situations not seriously. The spirit of procrastination is evidential toward others and ministry’s works. It has to do with negative bearing on the pastor’s work as the result of how the pastor responds to situations. The unread letters or communications sent into the wastebasket is the result of the pastor’s negligence or refusal to pay attention to key things that are significant to the growth of the ministry. In the pastor’s attitude, the term “busy” as used is being actually and realistically being interpreted as betrayal to God’s work from the busy pastor as the result of burnout and not paying attentions to key things in the church. It is a modifier to a pastor; similarly, adulterous and embezzling could modify a wife and a banker respectively.

The pastor is not only unbusy or busy, the pastor is also subversive. Being subversive in the spiritual reality is the act of understanding the religion of self and establishing the kingdom of God. Being subversive indicates that no one will talk good things about the pastor because he stands for the truth and directs people to God by telling them the truth. It is the act of using the God’s giving methodologies to direct the people to God in regardless of nationality, race, geographic origin, creed, religion, ethnicity, sex, and gender identity. It presents Jesus as being subversive, the assumption of subversiveness, and the tools of subversiveness.

The pastor is not only subversive, but he is also being termed as being apocalyptic. The word “apocalyptic” as discussed by the author has a chaotic meaning which should not be addressed to a pastor as the result of the nature of his work; however, he justifies his position by making reference to John the Revelator who happens to be an apocalyptic author. Being apocalyptic in a sense as a pastor means that people will eventually misunderstand what you believe, what you are, and what you say. While there is an apocalyptic pastor, there will also be an apocalyptic prayer, poet, and patience as well as the result of the pastor’s activity in the church ministry.

While the pastor becomes apocalyptic in his dealing with the congregation, his ministry is amid in the traffic. Despite of the pastor’s effort to minister to the congregation, he finds himself held down by situation that he cannot control; as the result, his work is distorted as it is reflected from the eyes of the people who view him as a pawn to their egos. Notwithstanding, he is vocationally called to the art of curing souls. This curing of souls is termed as the rediscovery of the Pastoral work which is being compared to the church history terminology known as the reformation. This curing of souls as the result of the rediscovery should begin with taking initiative using language modified spiritually to heal souls in order to solve problems in the church and in Christendom.

While the pastor is involved in curing of souls, he is admonished to pray with open eyes in order to exegete the congregation he leads as a pastor who is contemporary to Annie Dillard exegete of creation and John Calvin exegete of the Holy Scripture. This analogy liking these to the idea of the understanding of the doctrine to protect against Gnosticism and Manichaeism religion termed as a kind of pious sentimentalism or sophistical intellectualism. Praying with eyes open with spiritual mind enables the pastor to spiritually discern the seat of God’s glory, the territory of God’s world at tinker creek, the world of scriptures, and the church’s world. Each of these locations can be navigated spiritually with the spiritual mind of the pastor. The pastor should be able to exegete the scripture, God’s seat of glory with spiritual mind-eyes, and the congregation he pastors.

The eighth chapter of the book presents the incredible accomplishments of the author with respect to holding seminars to teach topics on Christian doctrines in order to strengthening the body of Christ. He did so by exercising his educational task, available help, and converting languages into languages to make the teaching understood by the audience.

Chapter nine interrogates if growth is a decision to make. The decision human makes in life is usually contrary to God’s will. This is the human nature by virtue of historical record. Human’s decision is most often in opposition to God’s will and consequently leads to bad work that result to negative capability because God is left out in the decision making process when human refuses to listen and to accept God’s middle voice.

In chapter ten, the author gives an account of his pastor who always asked a question, “How are things in your souls today?” The author termed it as “the small of small talk.” He talks about being impatient with the ordinary and the pastoral art he termed as “small talk.” While this attitude is usually associated with pastoral work, it is inevitable to stop the pastors to see the congregation with negative eyes. There is a war which is taking place between the pastor and the congregation. The pastor sees people as sinners, discerns particular sin in people’s lives, senses inadequacy of his works to the congregation he leads and develops a quick theological eye for members. As the result of this misconception the pastor has for congregational members, it is termed as “unwell in a new way” as the attitude exhibited by the pastor to members of the congregation.

In chapter twelve, the author narrates an emergency situation about a birth of a child through the unknown individual by the name Morgan. Due to the generosity rendered by the unknown individual, the couple desire to extend gratitude; unfortunately, Morgan could not be found around. The chapter reviews that God has set people apart to carry out specific function at a given time specified. Such people show up when we are in desperate needs of survival as it has happened in the lives of the couple. Such appearances could be angelic beings sent to rescue the people based on God’s mercy and providence.

In Chapter thirteen, the author narrates their-stay away from the congregation for twelve months which he termed as “Sabbatical Year.” He explains the discovery of stimulus he experienced as the result of the Sabbatical Year, the structure for the Sabbatical, and the raft for ministry. In the final chapter, he concludes with poets and Pastor’s and poems about greeting.


Being educated in a theological institution or having a theological degree does not qualify or enlist an individual to be a pastor. In my opinion, there should be a sense of vocational calling upon an individual to one of the five-fold ministry gifts before the person prepares for the calling. The preparation of the calling through theological knowledge attainment aids the called individual in the discharge his pastoral duties. Running a church ministry is quite different from knowing theology and all the methodologies involved in sermon preparation and presentation. Running a church is a different school based on practicality; therefore, theological students after having gone through the theoretical aspect of their training, they should transition to another school called internship or residency. As a pastor, I know not everything I do or believe, the congregation is going to believe it; notwithstanding, I must stand to represent God before the congregation I lead. There will be disappointment I will receive from the congregation regarding how the congregational members respond to tasks giving them to discharge; however, I should understand that they are humans; therefore, failures on their part are inevitable.