Tag Archives: wife

Book Review: The Pastor’s Family

Last Monday I reviewed a book by Pastor Brian Croft, The Pastor’s Soul, which is the third book in a trilogy of pastoral help books.  You can read that review at the link above.  However, it prompted me to go back and read the first in the series, The Pastor’s Family (published by Zondervan in 2013).  I gave this book, along with The Pastor’s Soul four out of five stars on GoodReads.

I must say that I enjoyed reading this book immensely.  Co-authored with his wife Cara, Brian Croft was able to write what I would consider to be the most honest and helpful book to pastors and aspiring-pastors.  I especially liked the format, in which Brian writes most of the book, but Cara will break in either to give the wife’s perspective of the subject, helpful advice to pastors’ wives, or even to clarify, it would seem at times, what her husband was saying.  There are also a couple of pages at the end of each part where a person reflects on their own experiences.  The first time is written by a pastor, the second by a pastor’s wife, and the third is by someone who grew up as a PK (pastor’s kid).  Each of these “reflections” are helpful for solidifying what has been written in parts 1, 2, and 3.

In the first part, Brian seeks to help pastors understand their role in the family.  It is his desire to see us as pastors living up to what true success is–not some secular version of the term, but God’s version revealed in Scripture.  He gives us both the problem (chapter 1) and the solution (chapter 2).  He pointedly asks the rhetorical question, “What if God evaluated the faithfulness and greatness of a pastor, not simply by the successes of his local church ministry, but by how well he cared for and pastored his own family–his wife and children?” (p. 23)  And then he shockingly, but truthfully admits that “The only  person lonelier than a pastor in a church may be the pastor’s wife.” (p. 41)  This was not to make church members feel guilty, but to open the eyes of pastors who can become inwardly focused toward their own loneliness and miss that their wives are just as lonely, if not more so.  Tolle Lege if you want to know how he resolves this.

The second part is about caring for the wife. This time, it is Brian doing the breaking in to explain things from the husband’s perspective–at least the first chapter of the section.  Cara gives an honest look at what it means to be a pastor’s wife and how this affects the family and the church.  She wisely advises, “[I]t’s important that the wife of a pastor shares his desire to serve the church, but her service cannot be motivated by a concern for what other people think.” (p. 69).  But she also rebukes the wife who often will keep things to herself, becoming overwhelmed. “If we do not make our needs known to others, we cannot expect them to help us.” (p. 76).  The next chapter is Brian showing the pastor ways to care for his wife.

The third part deals with caring for the kids.  I don’t want to give too much away from this part.  This was probably the most convicting portion of the book personally.  I have often sought to care for my wife, but feel like I am not as diligent with the kids.  After reading this book, I feel doubly so.  Pastor Croft gives good, but difficult advice on how to pastor and father one’s children as individuals and as a group.  He does advocate for family worship/devotions, but goes beyond just that.  He also gives tips on how to get your children ready for Sunday’s sermon, which I found interesting.

Throughout this book, we are given examples of good ministers, but bad family men.  Yet, he also gives us examples of men who were able to do well at being both.  It was hard to hear of men, respected by almost all in the faith as being great pastors and evangelists, being neglectful husbands or fathers. But as pastors and Christians we are to be about the truth and learn from those who went before us, emulating their faith, but not their failures. No, we learn from their failures.

In fact, Cara is open about one other item from which we can all: her battle with depression. Though it is a quick chapter in this book, she explains the first time she went through it as well as the second time, and how she was able to get help.  At the time of her writing this book, she admits to being in another bout.  Pastors and wives would be greatly helped by this chapter alone.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone, at only 166 pages beginning to end, it is not a difficult read.  It is not a theological book, but a practical book.  I would recommend it especially to pastors or wives who are struggling in their marriage, pastors whose children seem to be more and more resentful of the church, and aspiring pastors (those who are feeling the calling or are currently in seminary).  I would also recommend this book to laypeople in the church.  It gives a clear and concise picture of what it is like to be a pastor or pastor’s family.  If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like, read this book.  The Crofts deal honestly and openly about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I am looking forward to now reading the second book in the trilogy: The Pastor’s Ministry.  I hope to be writing another book review soon.

Great (Unmet) Expectations: How to Fight Fair in Marriage

Arguments happen even among the most loving and closest of couples.  Often those arguments will have two causes: 1. unmet expectations, or 2. unrepented pride.  Today, let’s talk about unmet expectations.  In one way, this first cause can have its roots in the second.  There are expectations that a wife or husband has but never expresses to their partner because “they should just know,” or “because I’ve lived with them for so long,” or “they owe me.”  Do you see the pride in those statements?  I should not have to condescend to explain what I desire.  They ought to be as intelligent as I.  They ought to be on the same emotional level as myself.  They should elevate themselves; I ought not have to condescend to their level.  Let’s leave that one for next time.

What happens if that isn’t the case?  What happens if one has expectations, and has expressed them, but still has them unmet?  The heart is racing (or slowing, depending on anger or hurt), the emotions are on edge, and everyone is gearing up for a fight.  What do you do?  Matt Chandler has some advice:

One of the rules right out of the gate is that we have to be careful not to react to things that upset us.  Reaction shows a serious lack of self-control and maturity.  Notice that Solomon didn’t just blow up at his wife and go on about how she didn’t love him or respect him or care about him.  None of that happened.  Instead, he basically said, “Okay, I get it.  I love you.” [cf. SoS 5:4-6] His heart may have been full of frustration, but he controlled himself and responded to his wife, rather than reacting to her.   Then he took his frustration elsewhere. (The Mingling of Souls, p. 149)

. . .The Scriptures show husbands that they’ve been called by God to love their wives like Christ loved the church.   That means we love them regardless of their response to our efforts to change them.  And the same grace-centeredness is needed for wives who want their husbands to change.

Getting our hearts into this way of thinking is the hardest thing in marriage by far because all of us tend to love in order to get something in return. (You can tell it’s not really love you’re giving if you begin to withhold it because you don’t think the response is good enough.)  Jesus calls us to a more selfless way, the way of the cross.  His way calls us to love purely because it’s the right thing to do, because it honors him and glorifies his Father.  Jesus emptied himself in order to love imperfect responders.  That’s real love.

Men, have you figured out that you cannot be romantic enough?  You cannot be sweet enough?  You cannot be sweet enough.  You cannot help out around the house enough. You cannot make enough money and buy enough stuff to make your wife a sexual dynamo in the bedroom.  Heart change isn’t brought about through leverage like that.  In the end, only the Holy Spirit can change your wife’s heart.  So we love, we encourage, and repeatedly we turn our wife over to Christ because he can change her heart.  He can move in her.  He can do things that we can’t.

The same is true for women.  You can give all the sex that your man wants.  You can cook him all his favorite meals.  You can keep the house extra clean.  You can give him time alone in his man cave or whatever.  And God can use all those things, but none of them performed to be about change will work to change your man’s heart.  Only God can do that. (Mingling, pp. 154-155)

So what is Matt Chandler saying?  Never react to unmet expectations; respond instead.  Respond with self-control and maturity.  If there is an opportunity, first go to God with the issue before going to your spouse.  While you may be able to affect the behavior of your spouse, you cannot affect the heart.  The heart is where real change is.  Only God can affect the heart.  Go to Him, then when emotions are not on edge, talk with your spouse.  By the way, don’t be surprised if God actually works on your heart before your spouses.

The Mingling of Souls is a great book based on the Song of Solomon, and I would highly recommend it.  It is by Matt Chandler and Jared C. Wilson, published by David C. Cook, copyrighted 2015.  You can order a copy here in various forms.