I first read Eugene Peterson’s book Working the Angles: the Shape of Pastoral Integrity in the mid-90’s. I read all of his books on pastoral ministry, finding them helpful. A decade in to pastoral ministry, and preparing for my next call, I decided to read it again.
I found that while the book hadn’t changed, I had. I fully agree with Peterson’s main point that pastors have largely abandoned their calling for a substitute, a counterfeit that undermines the work of God. I also fully agree with the tasks of pastoral ministry being largely prayer, Scripture and spiritual direction.
Where I am not so on board is how he gets there. He draws from sources that I am at time uncomfortable with. I’m not a TR. I read books, and benefit from them, that are outside of the Reformed heritage. I read Nouwen, a Kempis and other devotional writers. I’m interested in reading de Sales as well. But the bulk of my significant reading is within one stream of thought.
Peterson pulls from Greek mythology, neo-orthodox authors and devotional writers. He does not often ground his thoughts in Scripture, which is odd since that is one of his 3 angles. I think I only found one reference to a Puritan, who have written numerous volumes on prayer, Scripture and the need for soul friends (aka spiritual directors). This I find to be a glaring weakness.
So, while Peterson’s book is helpful, it is less helpful than perhaps it could have been. This is sad, because we do need more books that focus on shepherding people, not treating pastors as CEOs.