Brian & Cara Croft
Reviewed by: Ryan M. McGraw
The Pastor's Family: Shepherding Your Family through the Challenges of Pastoral Ministry, by Brian and Cara Croft. Zondervan, 2013. Paperback, 171 pages, list price $16.99. Reviewed by OP pastor Ryan M. McGraw.
Today, the phrase "pastor's kid" often conjures up images of a child who makes unchurched children look tame. It is too easy to blame this phenomenon on election. While it is true that there are Esaus in the church as well as Jacobs, it is also true (if we may believe the Crofts' testimony) that many ministers spend little time with their wives and children, neglect family worship, and do not set parameters for the church to respect in order to protect their families. Governing his own household and training obedient children are some of the primary qualifications for any man who is called to the pastoral ministry. This little book on The Pastor's Family feels the pulse of today's ministry and offers a much-needed call to encouragement and repentance.
The authors—with interspersed comments from a few of their friends—divide the difficulties facing the pastor's family into three areas: the pastor's heart, his wife, and his children. The way in which the Crofts search readers' hearts is greatly needed. Their description of the trials that church members unintentionally create for their pastors' families will shock many people. This book can also help pastors indirectly if church members take the time to read it in order to know better how to assist their ministers in this vital area.
Some of the solutions that the Crofts propose, such as spending time with each child individually each week, are much needed. Others reveal the low ebb to which the ministry has fallen, as when they say that they now commit to family worship at least (only!) three times a week. However, the basic premise of the book is that ministers are called to minister to their wives and families, even before they are called to minister to the church. In this regard, even great men who left wives and children behind and whom God used to spread the gospel far and wide were wrong and their families suffered for it. The Crofts give us a jump start back in the right direction.
In the late seventeenth century, William Perkins urged pastors to make the ministry attractive to their sons, so that more of them would desire to serve in the ministry themselves. His desire was often realized in Reformed families. Now it is common for a pastor's children in many circles not only to avoid the ministry like the plague, but perhaps even to avoid the church itself. We must always hope that God will do what we cannot do in the hearts of wayward children. But we must also take up God's call to use the divinely appointed means of grace in the lives of our children. Woe to us if we trust those means, but woe to us if we neglect them. Brian and Cara Croft have in this book given the church a clear call to reset the priorities of the pastor and of the church with regard to the pastor's family.
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