10 Things Every Minister’s Wife Needs to Know by Jeana Floyd, New Leaf Press, 2010.
Jeana Floyd is an American minister’s wife. From what she writes I get the sense she is well known in America but I had never heard of her. Perhaps because she is well known there, she is not explicit about her churchmanship but I am fairly sure she is at the conservative evangelical end. She definitely upholds the male headship view of gender. Unlike Benton’s book (find my review of ‘The Minister’s Wife’ in the Book Review category), I think that this one is more of a struggle if you don’t hold the same beliefs as Floyd. I doubt clergy husbands would find most of it useful.
It wasn’t really my cup of tea. I felt that what sort of place you were in emotionally could affect its impact on you. I worry that if someone was feeling bad about themselves this book could make them feel worse; Floyd seems to think that we often are the ones making things hard for ourselves. If you are someone who is prone to feeling sorry for yourself and just needs a good talking to every so often, this book may be for you. It definitely isn’t the place to go for an outline of the main challenges of being a CS and how to handle them. The focus is much more on what you should be doing to be a better CS.
I did like her emphasis on thriving rather than surviving. The first two chapters look at the importance of relying on God and how to separate your identity in Christ from the identity of CS. These are both important ideas for Christians (CS or otherwise) to consider. I also thought chapter 8, on handling criticism, thought provoking. She makes some good points about the importance of being humble, not retaliating and letting it go. A very wise bit of advice was to ‘guard against taking up an offense for someone else…you are carrying a burden that is not yours to carry. Plus, you may ignite or fuel hard feelings for that person toward the offender.’ It is very hard not to do this when your spouse is criticised but she is right in pointing out that it doesn’t help.
The rest of the chapters did not really do it for me. I became a bit frustrated at the avoidance of a discussion of the difficulties. Chapter 3 is actually titled, ‘It Ain’t That Hard,’ but some of the things she mentions I found really hard. I’m sure we can all act to make our lives easier but some things are out of our control and cannot be cured by being more stoical.
I felt she underrated problems by saying, well x may happen in church life but it happens in secular life too. For example, in chapter 7 on clergy children, she says that, ‘Life is not fair in either the secular world or the ministry world.’ Well yes, but life is unfair in different ways in the ministry world and surely it is helpful to be forewarned about this. This chapter didn’t leave me any the wiser on what challenges clergy children face, and was mainly parenting advice which could apply to any family.
I couldn’t relate at all to chapter 6, ‘Let the men be the men.’ This was partly because of the gender stereotyping but also because I just don’t know of any CS’s who have tried to act as the minister. This may be because I’ve never known a CS who is as heavily involved in her husband’s ministry as Floyd clearly is. If you are trying to commandeer your spouse’s role then this chapter is for you, but otherwise you can just skip it.
As you can see, overall I didn’t find this book very helpful. There are good bits of advice scattered throughout but I have found the same points in other books without the accompanying feeling that I’m getting it wrong. I wonder if this is partly due to being from a different church background and culture; it may be that people more similar to Floyd may find it a more beneficial read.