I have a hard time not gushing when I talk about Eugene Peterson’s book. I pre-ordered this one several weeks before it came out. (Actually have been charged twice and still trying to figure out how to get rid of the second charge without getting rid of the book.) And once it came how it still took me just over two weeks to read. Partially it is because I broke two different kindles (only two I have broken in the 3 years I have had a kindle.)
But partially, the reason I spend time reading with Peterson is that his language and purpose are deeper than most other contemporary Christian writing. Peterson has a deep use of language, not that he is difficult to understand, but that he is very careful in his imagery and it takes time to process all that he is saying.
If you have not read any of Eugene Peterson theology books, then this is a good introduction. It is very personal, and gives context to much of the other theological writing. But Peterson also intentionally writes about why he thinks he developed as he did as a pastor, theologian and writer. There are several overlapping themes in this book and his previous book Practice Resurrection. The most important is he focus on stability as a pastor. Peterson started one church and remained pastor there until he left the pastorate to concentrate on The Message Bible, 29 years in total. Over and over I was struck by the number of times he said things like, “and it took me 10 years to come to the understanding that…”
This is spiritual autobiography in the best sense of the word. It gives a sense of how we develop as Christians and how we can develop into our vocation whether we are pastors or not.
I think most pastors will benefit from this, and I have already passed it on to several pastors that are friends and family. I would encourage you to read it and then give that copy (or another) to your pastor. It really is very, very good.
NPR has a good interview with him about the book. (8 Minutes)