Thursday, May 9, 2013

book review: the church planting wife

Do you ever have that lingering “I’M FORGETTING SOMETHING” feeling?? Princess has had it constantly for like three months. Every day she taps her forehead and goes hmmmmmmm. Okay yeah but then she FIGURED IT OUT. Her husband uncovered from the depths of his crowded truck a book. A book that Princess had not been able to find for so long that she forgot it was lost. A book that she had since bought on her Kindle because she forgot she had been given a copy of it. And then she saw what was tucked in the book (a sweet request from the author to review the book), and went “EEEEEK THIS IS THE THING!!!!” So, without further ado, and with emphatic apologies to the lovely Christine Hoover, here is Princess’ review of the book The Church Planting Wife (which she was supposed to do in FEBRUARY and TOTALLY SHOULD HAVE have because she certainly needed the truths in this book to encourage her during some trying moments these past few months!!):

Reading this book was similar to Princess’ experience playing blacklight dodgeball (her husband’s ingenious and uber-popular go-to youth event)—she got hit a lot. Christine is right on the mark. Like right on the mark. Sort of like Princess’ student who attended blacklight dodgeball and chucked a glowing pink ball right at Princess’ royal head. Christine’s wisdom is solid, precise, and relevant—so relevant that it’s almost a shame that the book is geared for the church-planting wife. Princess’ husband serves as a Student Minister at a church plant, so in a sense she may fall into this category, but really, anyone involved in ministry, even in a volunteer capacity, could glean invaluable insight from this book. (Perhaps one of the best uses for this book may be for ministry wives to explore it together, meeting regularly to discuss each chapter! Someone do that.)

The difference between Christine and the dodge-baller that hit Princess in the head is that Christine doesn’t cheer after she hits her mark. Christine approached each topic with a humility that really touched Princess’ hardened, cynical heart. She makes it clear that she’s going through these struggles with her readers. Here are a few of the struggles mentioned in the book that hit Princess smack in the nose:
  1. Stress—particularly the stress of ministry. Lately, ministry-induced stress has been like a 300-pound ogre sitting on Princess’ back. For the past few months, Princess has struggled more than she ever has to minister joyfully, to rest, to sacrifice. It all feels like too much sometimes, and Princess often finds herself exhausted and resentful. It would be easy to speak to a wife in that situation with condemnation, but Christine is tender-hearted and doesn’t resort to judgment (an approach that frees Princess to pursue selflessness rather than cling to her selfishness). She identifies the difference between ministry stress that comes from selfishness and the stress that comes from the false burden one might feel from trying to please anyone but God. (Princess certainly struggles with both.) Here are a few statements in the book that Princess really treasures:
    • “Stress multiples when it seems that nothing is ours—our husbands, homes, time, not even ourselves—or when everything in our lives revolves around ministry.”
    •  “If our lives are to reflect the One we follow, we must cultivate an inner quiet in the midst of outer busyness like He did.”
    • “We often associate peace with changed circumstances or a lack of busyness, but as Jesus modeled, God’s peace comes through dependence in the midst of busyness.”
    •  “When we fail to rest, we disobey God, refuse his safeguard for our hearts, and experience stress rather than peace.”
    • “Boundaries cannot be placed on a checklist, as much as I would like to sometimes. They are not often as simple as a yes or a no. Boundaries require our utter dependence on the Lord’s direction.”
    • “The sacrifice question must be answered every day, because ministry is not so much the big, dramatic acts of sacrifice but the little, unseen ones. Because we can do all manner of ministry activities and never be a living sacrifice, poured out for the benefit of others.”
  2. Spirit-led Curiosity
    • “I’ve discovered that everyone has a story. If I am simply curious about others, if I show genuine interest in them, I always find that they, in some way, have walked or are walking a hard, broken road. Spirit-led curiosity is our greatest ally in life, in ministry, and in friendship.”
  3.    Dealing with discouragement
    •  “My prayer is for thick skin and a tender heart.”
    •   “There is a mysterious value from heaven’s point of view to being in the darkness of life and still choosing to believe in a God who seems to have forgotten us. Darkness is part of the school for the soul, to delve into what really matters. To put away all that is frivolous or vain and to sift through what really matters. When we are desperate, we are serious, focused on what life is all about, what He is all about. “
  4. Thawing. This is Princess’ favorite concept, and one that she’s shared many times just this week. It’s the idea that you should purposefully let people see you at less than your best—when your house is a wreck and you didn’t have time to shower (so that's every other day if you're Princess). Princess does this in tiny ways—never untagging unflattering pictures on Facebook and regularly confessing embarrassing moments—but Christine reminded her how crucial this is. It brings our focus outward and soothes others that feel the pressure of perfection.
    •  “I’m practicing thawing, too—not worrying when other see my disarray on accident, even when I am not controlling what messes they’re allowed to see. In thawing, I find myself in a state of gratefulness. Less of my time is spend corralling life and more of it is spent seeing, listening, and relating. There is less coldness and looking inward, more warmth and seeing outward. Less trying to impress and more enjoying the life and people I love.”
    • A quote from Matt Chandler’s wife Lauren: “I needed to stop pretending I had it all together…If you don’t start walking in openness about your sin, you eventually start believing you do have it all together and that’s when you can end up ruining your marriage and your ministry and your own soul.”

Bottom line: The Church Planting Wife is scripturally based, full of hope and wisdom (some of which is from interview with other church planting wives that are sprinkled throughout). Some of its best advice is applicable to anyone: “Teach yourself to crave the Word, drench yourself in it, and learn to depend on God for everything that you need.”

A personal word from Princess (otherwise known as Caroline): Thank you, Christine, for a beautiful book that has resonated with me so deeply. I consider it a long-distance mentorship, and I am forever grateful.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I'm not in full-time ministry but I might want to read that book.