A Book Review from Books at a Glance
Reviewed by Kirk Wellum
This concise 171-page paperback is full of helpful information regarding the challenges facing pastors, their spouses, and their children, that are connected to the responsibility of Christian ministry. One of the things that makes this book valuable is that it is written by a married couple who knows from personal experience the joys and sorrows that attend the marriages and families of those who serve as leaders in the church of Jesus Christ. Keen observers looking on from the outside may discern some of the struggles discussed in this book, but the subtle nuances are best appreciated by those Christian workers who have, in current parlance, been there and done that!
The book begins with notes from the authors, Brian and Cara Croft, that give some background as to why they wrote the book, which is followed by an introduction that tackles the important question, “What is faithful ministry?” The main body of the book is composed of 3 parts: (1) The Pastor’s Heart, (2) The Pastor’s Wife, and (3) The Pastor’s Children. In each section Brian writes about the challenge of pastors caring for themselves, their wives, and their children, all the while living in what often amounts to the glass house of Christian ministry. Cara writes about the struggles she faced as a pastor’s wife as part of the second section. In addition, each major section ends with a reflection written by different authors – the first by Jim Savastio on Signs of Grace in Ministry, the second by Cathi Johnson of Keeping Your Marriage Strong, and the third by an anonymous pastor’s kid entitled, Thoughts from a PK. The book ends with a conclusion and an afterword written by Brian and Cara respectively, followed by two appendices, one written by Cara about her battle with depression, and the other written by Brian about ways an aspiring pastor can serve his wife and family before he becomes a pastor.
By way of commentary, I think the book is worth reading and re-reading by pastors and their wives, both before and after they assume ministerial responsibilities, and by other members of the church leadership team. This is an area where good resources are needed and are not easy to find, and there is a sense in which what applies to a pastor and his wife applies more generally to all Christian couples. The willingness of Brian and Cara to share their lives and experiences with us, and in the process make themselves vulnerable, is commendable and I have no doubt that their exhortations and advice will be helpful to many. The Christian ministry is no place for those with fantasies of admiration and ease, or those who think that they will not pay a personal price as they serve on the frontlines of the kingdom of God. Pastors, their wives, and families stand in need of the grace of God as much as, and sometimes more than, anyone in the church. But at the same time, there are blessings and joys connected with pastoral ministry both for the pastor and his wife, as well as for his family, that cannot be found anywhere else, and the Crofts capture this balance.
Of course, all married couples are different, including those in pastoral ministry, and not all struggle in precisely the same way. Likewise, not all will relate to each other and their children in the same way. One size fits all solutions are impractical and reductionistic. I mention this because books of this nature can be hokey if the authors are not careful. Every Christian struggles, but no one wants to hear people in ministry whine as if they are unfairly besieged by trouble. We are called to set an example and to faithfully fulfill our responsibilities no matter what comes our way. Thankfully, the Crofts seem to understand this and offer many realistic suggestions that should help pastors and their wives mature in their relationship with God and each other, while providing leadership and exemplifying godly love within the church. In my opinion, this book should be pondered by all who are in ministry, or anyone who may be contemplating ministry, because it expounds the biblical requirement to be authentic and humble as Christian leaders, spouses, and parents. We are not a select group of spiritual superstars who have the answer to every question, but sinners saved by God’s grace who are called to serve the Lord to the best of our ability to his honor and glory.
Kirk M. Wellum, Principal, Toronto Baptist Seminary
Editor’s Note: Here are a few more titles from Brian Croft:
- The Pastor’s Soul
- Caring for Widows
- Gathering God’s People
- Prepare them to Shepherd
- The Pastor’s Ministry
Buy the books
The Pastor's Family: Shepherding Your Family through the Challenges of Pastoral Ministry