Book Review: The Pastor’s Family
Shepherding Your Family through the Challenges of Pastoral Ministry
By Brian and Cara Croft
“Another book on the family?”
So begins this thoughtful and insightful book for pastoral families. Penned by Brian and Cara Croft, this book takes on the challenge of managing the pastor’s family life in our complex and stressed out culture. The Crofts’ unique twist is their take on the pastor’s family life as a whole. While there are several excellent resources for wives, I don’t recall a volume written for both husband and wife, serving as a spring board for good discussions and identifying potential problems. Brian says, “This book is meant to equip pastors to shepherd their family through the difficulties and sufferings they will encounter in ministry, not try to avoid them.” While seeking Biblical solutions, Brian and Cara guide the reader through the complicated and emotional issues that affect the ministry family. As we all know, success in ministry does not always translate to success in parenting or in a marriage.
The Crofts jump right in by tackling the issue of why so many church leaders are (and have been) tempted to sacrifice their families on the altar of ministry. They identify these problem areas: the demands of approval, appearance, success, significance and expectations. Their examples of how these play out in a pastor’s family are very helpful in detecting one’s own blind spots, if one can do so.
Cara’s take on the role of the pastor’s wife is a solid one. While pinpointing typical problem areas, she remains encouraging. Introverts reading this book will identify with her ― “I’d be perfectly content sitting in the corner of the sanctuary watching others.” She is very open about her struggle with depression and her vulnerability to discouragement. Depending on fellow believers to pray for her has been a sweet blessing on her journey and is a good word for the rest of us. I particularly liked the Crofts’ discussion of “Confidentiality Matters” ― how much should a husband share about church or counseling matters with his wife?
Brian follows up with a chapter specifically devoted to “caring for your wife” ― honoring her, serving her, encouraging and her and yes, even disciplining her. Each chapter has a series of questions for a couple to hash out, and I found these especially beneficial.
Of course no ministry book is complete without a chapter on “pks” (pastor’s kids). I liked their segment on helping kids “foster appreciation” for the ministry and the church. That simply means helping children understand the work of the gospel ministry and including them in it.
As I was reading this book, I heard about a pastor leaving his very successful church planting work in a large metropolitan community. His family was struggling in several areas, and he and his wife made the difficult decision to make a move for the sake of their children and their own emotional stability. That is not a story one hears very often, but it made me realize again how important this message is to ministry families. The Crofts have made an excellent contribution to this subject with their book and I highly recommend.