In case you missed it, here is my guest blog over at The Middle Years Ministry. Check it out!
You need this. As someone in ministry, the introduction wakes you up and sets up the need to read this book. Let me just save you the time from reading the introduction, because I know many of you will skip it anyway, and just know there is reason for every pastor, missionary, or anyone in a ministry…you need to read this book.
Transparency. When an author shows transparency appropriately, it brings the book to life, in my opinion. The author is willing to show his weaknesses and mistakes made in the past to bring a more personal touch and more valuable for the reader.
Short & Sweet. I love short chapters. As a father of many kids, I have like 3 or 4 kids now (kidding, kidding)…but sometimes I get interrupted in my reading and thoughts and momentum of the read can get disjointed. This book provides short chapters that pack a punch. Plus, if these chapters were longer, I honestly think you’d walk away from the chapter like you were just in a heavyweight fight. Great, challenging content in every chapter.
41 Chapters…There’s One for You. Seriously, if you cannot find one chapter out of the forty-one chapters, you must have reached sainthood or just are too proud to admit your flaws. Everyone in ministry will be able to find something they need improvement. Plus, each chapter provides reflection questions to help you get started on your self-improvement.
Repetitive Beginning. For some reason, the first four chapters seem to repeat the same thought over and over. Not sure why. But, for what it’s worth, it is a very good thought!
Missing Verses. If you’ve read my blogs before, writers should include references when they are quoting the Bible. Do I need to start a petition?
Too Honest? For me, as a reader, I enjoy the honesty of the author. Some readers may be turned off by the honesty and personal stories. This may be less of a bad thing, but more of a toss-up depending on the reader.
The Grade: A. Pastors, buy this. Church people, buy this for your pastor. For someone in ministry, it is a refreshing read. It will save you from years of trouble and burnout down the road, and improve the ministry you are currently serving. This book came strongly recommended from a missionary friend to my pastor, and he liked it so much he bought me a copy. So what does that tell you?
We’ve all heard the “only work on Sundays” jokes (well, some aren’t joking) over the years. But for those in full-time ministry, you know your only “workday” is not just on Sundays, but the hours can often overflow into the evening and into the weekend. Still young in the pastorate, I’ve learned lessons the hard way, and am still learning ways of balancing my precious young family with the ministry that I cherish. And, it is a question that I often ask veterans in ministry, who seem to have a great handle on balancing family and ministry. So, here are just a few practical ideas that I’ve heard from my mentors.
Please let me know how you balance ministry and family. I’d love to learn from you!
The Good: Maybe I should have labeled this section of the review “The Great”, because there is some great stuff in here. The author begins the book with an honest and humble look at his own personal sin struggle with anger and pride. You can’t help but examine your own life through the author’s guts and transparency. Throughout the book, you can tell it is written through blood, sweat, & tears of ministry. Each chapter screams ministry experience and is written out of love for other pastors. There are must read chapters all over the place. For example, chapter 3 is a must read for all professors and teachers, from kindergarten to grad level (I actually sent the book and chapter number to my alma mater for their refreshment). Chapter 4 is a must read for all pastoral search committees, and I mean A MUST! I can’t remember the last time I was sending a book’s title to specific people to tell them you have to read this chapter. Incredible ministry insight throughout that provides priceless ministry training to both young and veterans in ministry pure gold.
The Bad: The only bad would be there is slight repetitiveness towards the end of the book, taking away from the incredible content of the majority of the book.
The Grade: A. Given to me at a leadership conference at a ministry balance seminary. Boy, am I thankful I read it. This book very well may be the best, and is definitely the most honest, ministry book out there. In terms of providing valuable insight into longevity in ministry, ministry balance, and burnout prevention…this book was a home run. Each person in ministry should grab this book. Notice I didn’t say just pastors, I’m talking anyone in leadership ministry positions, they need to read this. You hear me, although this is written to pastors primarily (especially in the latter chapters), there are ministry principles in this book that ministry leaders need for their spiritual health.
The overarching quality of this book is the realness. The author’s transparency of his family life is both refreshing and re-assuring, that pastor’s families don’t have it all together, and it is as times crazy. But, the book does a great job at providing insight of developing balance with family and ministry.
You know it is a good book when there are statements or ideas that will be lifelong “sticks”. What I mean by “sticks” is these are things that I hope to do within my lifetime, or within the time my children are still in my home. Examples would be the “moving of the fulcrum” on page 94, or turning off the cell phone and turning attention to the kids, finding a mentor, dating your wife, one-on-one time with your kids, the long distance race of parenting…just to name a few. You may read this list and think those are all no brainers…yeah, but don’t you want practical ways to accomplish all those things. This book will provide that for you, with humor and realness!
The transparency went a little far sometimes, for example, the mention of the “mom thongs”. Didn’t really need that mental picture. Overall, I thought the final parent chapter was good, but some could interpret it as “light discipline” parenting. I’m guessing that was not the intent, but need to be careful in how you read it. Don’t let it excuse you from disciplining your kids. Other than that, it’s hard to find more faults.
If reading was a race, I would be the tortoise. So I enjoy books that are easy reads, fun to read, and fully practical to my everyday life. I took my time with this book, reading just a few minutes each night and was almost disappointed when it was all dine. Overall, this was a life-changing, fully practical, ministry & family building…book. I hated it. Just kidding. Of course, I am recommending you give it a try!