MICHAEL TODD WILSON and BRAD HOFFMANN
IVP Books, 265 Pages, Paper, $16.00
The writers of this book have a unique ministry—they work with dropout pastors. Listening to the stories of pastoral failures has obviously provided Wilson and Hoffman, a pastor, an ability to detect certain patterns. They see how burnout, moral failure, and ineffectiveness develop in those who have started well and meant well but who have lost their way.
Sadly the problem is widespread in today’s pressure-cooker existence. Theological schools often fail to prepare ministerial students for the rigors of everyday ministry, generally focusing on the academic. And people in the pews often treat those in ministry as though they’re God, on one hand, and as though they’re doormats on the other. Yet the responsibility for failure and restoration belongs to the pastor or Christian worker. This book can be a great encouragement to those in vocational Christian service. Readers will benefit from its practical advice, even in simple matters like not taking oneself too seriously, being able to give and receive appropriate intimacy (the authors say this is a chief cause of problems), overcoming discontentment, learning to listen, and seeing ministry as belonging to God, not themselves. Those are only a few.
The self-care measures in this book should go a long way in helping Christian ministry workers care for themselves, even as they are generally adept and eager when it comes to helping others live effective Christian lives.