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Working The Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity [Paperback]

Eugene H. Peterson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 1989
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.

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Working The Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity + Five Smooth Stones For Pastoral Work + The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction
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3.0 out of 5 stars well thought and written concepts! April 25 2013
Book Review – Working the angles. Eugene Peterson.

Pastors, Christian leaders and all the Disciples of Christ are not immune from the influences of pressures of the culture they live in. In “Working the Angles” Peterson presents a platform with some of the basic resources that need revisiting in the pastoral ministry. The author’s intention is to provide the readers not with a remedy but rather the diagnosis which might shake off some dust of the institutionalised and professionalised American pastors in the late 80’.
His description of pastoral ministry uses a trigonometric metaphor of a triangle where he contrasts the noticeability of the lines versus the angles. The lines would be the obvious ones such as preaching, teaching and administration whereas the angles would be prayer, Scripture and spiritual direction.
By passionately dedicating three chapters to each of these three disciplines Peterson unfolds his biblical understanding and leaves it with the reader to come to terms with their meaning and significance for them individually. Pastoral work disconnected from the three angles cannot be given its shape by God. Working the angles is what gives shape and integrity to the daily work of pastors”.
With a distinct emphasis on Psalms, Peterson develops his argument on the first angle of pastoral integrity- prayer. He provides some good historical and theological basis and by adding his own approach in observing Sabbath he develops with a “free hand” (if there is such a thing) an exegesis of Psalm 92, where “praying and playing” belong together. Playing and praying (the Psalms) have vitalized and protected the author’s attentiveness to God therefore he will not compromise his allegiance to the biblical teaching on Sabbath.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I Echo My Friend's Review March 9 2004
I have a friend who is a professor at a school of religion. He helps to train our next generation of pastors. He once told me that "Working the Angles" was one of the best books on Pastoral Theology he had read and by far Peterson's best work. I don't think I would go as far as he did with my praise, but this certainly is a book worth owning. It will help you get back to the basics.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good, But Not Great Nov. 16 2003
This title is the second one I have read by Peterson. I frankly was disappointed with lack of applicable content. He does address pastors directly, but he seems to ramble when he could be making one point after another. Most pastors will find something in his words of value. I did. For the nuggets of truth this book does contain, I give it three stars. Still, Peterson seems to be capable of doing so much better.
There is no doubt that Peterson is a man of God who has a message for the people of this age. I just sensed that the "thus saith the Lord" was garbled somewhere between the prophet and the written proclamation. For the money, this title is a good, but not great, read for pastors and other church leaders.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Pray, Read and Talk. Could be better Sept. 23 2002
Eugene Peterson has been thinking about it for a long time and has some advice for pastors out there. Before he gives the advice, he has some words of criticism for them: they've been sucked into the world of "respected" professionals who let money or comfort dictate their career decisons (e.g. the ambulance-chasing lawyer, the salesman who tells you what you want to hear just so he gets the sale). He admonishes pastors who have a similar mentality and advises them to work on their prayer life (especially the Psalms), read the Bible with more fervor, and find a "spiritual counsleor"-- someone who can guide you towards a closer relationship with God.
Of course pastors need to read the Bible and pray! This is no new revelation! He did make me more interested in reading the Psalms, though. The section on "how to read" was not to my liking, either. The section on the importance of finding a spritiual mentor, however was quite interesting. Americans seem to have a fascination with Teddy Roosevelt-style "Rugged Individualism." This apparently carries over to the pastor who now thinks he has to be a strong leader of the church instead of realizing that Christ himself acted like a servent for us. He even humbled himself to wash his disciples feet and act as our "whipping boy"--taking a punishment that was rightfully ours as he died on the cross.
While I whole-heartedly say that Peterson's last section was the best, there are some good points to his first two sections. I already mentioned a new respect for the Psalms; in fact, the word "respect" is the key theme for most of Peterson's book. Respect the fact that, when you pray, you are talking to your Creator and Redeemer! Don't take that lightly! When you read the Bible, realize that it's your Creator and Redeemer talking with you!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Heart of the Matter Sept. 26 2001
The power, longevity and effectiveness of a church lies in large part on the leadership of its pastor(s). It shouldn't be about his or her administrative skills or ability to jump at every whim a member of the congregation brings forward. It should be about the spiritual life and leadership of the pastor. This isn't about perfection. It's about relationship with God. As a lay person who is active in the local church and works in a ministry to pastors, my heart delights in a pastor who puts God first and everything else in its proper place. You see, when the pastor's hunger for God is alive and well and being fed I can see it, and I have a role model to follow. When the pastor's life demonstrates the results of intimacy with Christ, I am motivated and encouraged.
As a lay person, I was brought up short because for too long I have measured my pastors by the to do list he accomplishes and the teaching she does. I have not always allowed them the space to do the most important things - being the guardian and teacher of the word and sacrament, abiding in Christ through prayer, and being the spiritual director I need rather than the quick answer to a problem I bring forward. I stand corrected.
My hope is that this book crosses the desk of every pastor in America, to renew his or her call to ministry, to give permission and encouragement in keeping the promises of ordination and installation. It will radically change the pastorate and the Church it ministers to.
Well done, Pastor Peterson. Thank you for your honesty, your leadership, and your willingness to be real and tell it like it is.
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