The Pastor’s Wife :: a book review

book week

I recently finished reading The Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love by Gloria Furman.

the PW

This small book packs a punch of encouragement straight from God’s Word. Furman’s book is filled with Bible verses and Gospel exhortation in three main areas:

  • Loving the Chief Shepherd
  • Loving an Under-Shepherd
  • Loving the Bride of Christ

In the introduction, she writes these words:

Our anchor must be cast on Christ, and our foundation must be his Word, because there’s no way we can love our Chief Shepherd, and the under-shepherd we are married to, and the bride we have been united to (Christ’s people, the church) unless we have first seen how Jesus loves us and gives us everything we need for life and godliness.

As you can tell from the beginning words, this book is rooted in the Gospel. This is not a book full of practical how-to’s for ministry. Instead, it’s a manual on how to think Biblically about the position in which God has placed you. From personal experience, when my thinking is in line with God’s Word, my thoughts and actions will be as well.

Furman emphasizes Christ’s sufficiency throughout the book – a message everyone needs to hear, but perhaps pastor’s wives especially. In a culture where expectations and comparison seem to be the name of the game, it is overwhelmingly refreshing to hear. She also addresses the identity crisis we sometimes face. Our first and foremost identity is not, in fact, what we do or who we’re married to. Our identity is in Christ.

We like to think of ourselves in terms of what we consume, produce, or possess, or how we behave. But being a Christian is neither a label nor an area of interest nor a matter of personal opinion. Being a Christian means that the most basic and fundamental thing about you has changed forever. No longer your own, you are now defined by whose you are.

Excellent, right? When you are in Christ, you are defined by whose you are. You are Christ’s! There is no room for identity crises and comparison struggles when you are dwelling richly in the knowledge that you are complete in and completely owned by Jesus.

Another ministry issue Furman addresses is what some call “living in a glass house” or “fishbowl.” See below:

“Being married to a man in ministry means your life is in a fishbowl,” a pastor’s wife once told me, “because everyone is watching you.” No doubt, there are elements of a life of ministry that resemble her remark. And there are biblical exhortations regarding discipleship that suggest that the people whom you are leading ought to be able to watch your life (2 Thess. 3:7–9; 2 Tim. 3:10; Heb. 13:7). This fishbowl illustration has truthful elements in it, and it is certainly a good thing to know that one is accountable to walk in integrity because people are watching your life. There is a safety and assurance that our family experiences in knowing that we are cared for enough by our church body and elders not to be ignored when it comes to keeping watch over our souls. But I think sometimes the fishbowl feeling can take a sinister tone—like your family is the fish in the tank and everyone else is a cat. They’re watching you, waiting for an opportunity to strike. I remember feeling this way when we first moved to the region of the world where we now live. […] So I talked about my feelings with an older woman who had lived there for years. She explained that my neighbors with their stares weren’t malicious but curious. “Why not let your light shine?” she encouraged me. This shifted my thinking, and I began to see multiple opportunities every day to speak to curious people about Jesus. 

Sometimes we think of letting our light shine before others (Matt. 5:16) like it is a fireworks show. We need to keep the people ooh-ing and ahh-ing in new and surprising ways while we impress them with our astonishing godliness and perfections. But letting your light shine before others has an entirely different scope and aim. Our good deeds and upright conduct are not about showboating ourselves but about demonstrating that we have a better possession and a lasting one in heaven and that our Rescuer is both holy and forgiving.

Do you see how in each of the above areas – both in how we think about ourselves and how others view us – she keeps bringing us back to what truly matters? It’s Christ. All is for Him and because of Him. Are you receiving undue attention in your place of service? Turn it back to Jesus. All of life flows from Him and must flow back to Him.

One final favorite quote:

Remember that God did not place you in this position accidentally. He has chosen you to be at your current church, with your husband, doing the things you are doing. Know that you are exactly where God wants you to be, whether or not you feel qualified today. Embrace this truth. Grow to love it. And trust that God is using you as the wife of a pastor for his purposes and glory.

No matter where you find yourself today – whether you are a pastor’s wife or not – keep your heart focused on the sovereignty of God. You are in this season for a reason. Excuse the ridiculous rhyme.

Overall, I found The Pastor’s Wife to be an encouraging book that refocused my heart and re-energized my purpose in Christ and where He has called me to serve. I have even recommended this book to some women who aren’t pastor’s wives {gasp!} because many of the truths are just as applicable wherever you serve. If you want to bless your pastor’s wife, here’s an idea: snag this book and give it to her for Christmas. Or her birthday. Or just because. I’m sure it will encourage her heart just as it did mine.

See my review of Gloria Furman’s book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full.
You can check out all my book reviews here and see my favorite marriage books here!

books to build your marriage

If you enjoyed the above quotes, you might also enjoy Furman’s interview entitled Serving, Struggling, and Thriving as a Pastor’s Wife.

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