15 February 2018

Cute Shoes: The Unexpected Textbook (Ministry Wives Book Review)

ACF Rating: 4 out of 5 books
I love a good pair of shoes, which if I’m honest is probably part of the reason I chose this book! I’ve been on the hunt for a good resource for ministry wives for several years now, particularly relating to being yourself in the face of ministry expectations and self care. So when I picked up this book, I was looking forward to seasoned advice, personal stories, and even a dash of Aussie humour.
What I didn’t expect was a thoroughly written, humourous texbook for clergy wives called to ministry.

While the title suggests a book about being yourself in ministry, I would argue that it is instead the kind of textbook that makes you think “finally!” when you get into it. 

The author, a psychologist originally from Australia but now living in America, really knows her stuff. She dives headfirst into some great biblical passages, gives some sound exegesis, and even throws in a bit of Greek and Hebrew translating to better understand important ministry passages. She shares some funny and intimate stories from her own experience as a clergy wife and mum, and includes a fabulous section at the end of each chapter based on feedback from personal surveys, resources, and conversations with other clergy wives and church members about the realities of ministry.
While I’d have to say there isn’t much about being yourself, self care or life outside ministry, she covers a range of helpful subjects that got me thinking about ministry differently. With a great mix of humour, bluntness, and even a bit of satire, the author discusses many aspects of ministry much like a mentor would, letting you know you aren’t alone, even if you face incredibly difficult or confusing seasons. She walks with you through leadership, marriage, friendship, raising clergy kids, following God’s call for you, discerning when to say no in a ministry situation, and (unexpectedly) learning how to express and receive love from your church community.

One unique element is the author’s determination to include church member’s insights and needs as part of the book. I truly admire her goal to encourage clear communication and targeted support between ministry wives and church members as equal members of the Body of Christ. For example:
On Friendship: “Both ministry wives and laypeople are actually trained to fear intimacy. Because of this, we flap our arms shouting ‘I’m not sure if I can trust you, so keep clear!’ At the same time, the church members swat back, assuring us, ‘No worries! I don’t want to get close because you’ll just leave me eventually anyway!’...Sad, isn’t it?”

Saying No: “I share this dilemma because it would be very easy for me to write a chapter telling you to just say no, when in reality it isn’t always that easy. On the other hand, we can also be guilty of assuming there is no one to take the reins while that person is in our pews just waiting for someone to ask her to exercise her gifts.”

It’s a textbook worth taking your time to read – and one I would like to see in any Australian theological college! Like all books, some advice will work for you and some won’t, but you’ll definitely walk away with a very real, practical and biblical resource that covers subjects I’ve not seen other books talk about.

If you know a clergy wife who feels called to ministry with their husband, is new to ministry, or just looking for a fresh perspective, I thoroughly recommend grabbing a copy of this book. As always, I’d love to know what you think or if you’d recommend it to someone in ministry, or even a church member.

You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes can be purchased from Book Depository.

~ Rachel

www.australianclergyfamilies.com/about -- journeying together with clergy families

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