A Review of The Pastor’s Wife by Gloria Furman
When Mez gave me this book to read I was in two minds about how helpful it would be. I’ve read books like this before and sometimes they are only really suitable for those pastoring in the States. Often it is difficult to see the relevance for pastors’ wives here in the UK, despite the biblical content. However, I really enjoyed this one and was encouraged whilst reading it. I liked the way that Gloria uses examples from her life overseas and some of the different challenges that brings. She helpfully splits the book into three sections, the first of which is ‘Loving the Chief Shepherd’. In these chapters Gloria reminds readers that as pastors’ wives we need to be loving Christ primarily, and that ‘our identity at the most basic and fundamental level is that we are “in Christ”’ (p25). Of course, this is true whether you are a pastor’s wife or not, but it is a helpful reminder because so often we can lose sight of it. These initial chapters lay the foundation for the rest of the book.
The middle section of the book focuses on our responsibility towards our husbands, based on Proverbs 31:12, ‘She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.’ Throughout these chapters Gloria uses her own experience and shares quite openly about how she tries to best support and encourage her own husband. Personally, I found these chapters encouraging and it made me think about how I can better support, pray for and encourage Mez. She also mentions the great privilege it is to be married to a pastor. I have to admit that there have been many times when I have not viewed my role in that way, so I felt challenged to remember this, particularly in periods of intense busyness, tiredness or stress.
The final section is all about loving the church. She spends a bit of time laying the biblical foundation for the church and asks the question ‘What on earth is the church?’ She answers it in this way: ‘The church is not a club, an organisation, or a nonprofit entity. The church is not just about a Sunday morning worship service. The church is a gathered people who exist by God’s grace to display the glory of Jesus and testify to his goodness as he is about his work of bringing all God’s prodigals home (p109).’ Every time I read or hear a sermon about the church, it never ceases to amaze me that this is the way God has chosen to display His glory. This is particularly true when I think about our little church of misfits in a housing scheme in Edinburgh. I sometimes look around on a Sunday and think, ‘Wow, how on earth are all these completely different individuals in a room together?’ It can only be because of Christ, and that speaks volumes to those who are yet to be saved. The final two chapters are about using the gifts God has given you and remembering that He will sustain you when you feel overwhelmed by the task ahead.
Gloria concludes the book by pointing readers to eternity: ‘We are each gifted for service as part of Christ’s bride, the church. Yet we are not obsessed with Jesus’ stuff but with Jesus himself. As we long for our heavenly bridegroom, we don’t stand at the altar admiring the lace on our wedding dress; we watch the doors with great anticipation of Jesus’s arrival’ (p145).
I would strongly encourage any pastor’s wife who is feeling overwhelmed, discouraged or who has lost the love of serving Jesus to give this book a read.