Book by a Pastor’s Wife: Running on Empty

I decided to switch around a few categories within the reading challenge. I originally set out to do the “committed” plan of 52 books a year, but there are some categories I’m not thrilled about (a book about finance? yuck), and there are some books I want to read that don’t fit into any of those categories. So I’m still aiming at a book a week but will read what I want and fit them in where I can. I recently read Running on Empty by Barbara Bancroft for the category of “a book by or about a pastor’s wife” from the “obsessed” plan.


A friend of mine who is also a pastor’s wife sent me this book when I was having a particularly difficult week. Written specifically for women serving in ministry (directly or alongside their pastor husband), Bancroft shares the many lessons she learned during her experience as a pastor’s wife and a foreign missionary. This book has radically transformed my outlook on life in ministry. Not only did it point me back to the Gospel in the midst of common difficulties in ministry, it also revealed unrealistic expectations and sin patterns I’ve been harboring.

If you are not a pastor’s wife or in a ministry vocation, don’t write this book off yet. Though written to a specific audience, Bancroft adeptly shows how the Gospel applies to all areas of our lives no matter your situation or gender. Her specific applications are to women in ministry, but could easily be applied to any circumstance. She deals with topics including identity, entitlement, and envy, to name a few. One of my favorite chapters is where she deals with the Proverbs 31 “perfect woman” model. Honestly, I get a knot in my stomach whenever someone talks about this Bible chapter, feeling the guilt of my inadequacy compared to this ideal. But Bancroft shows how we can be free of that weight because this is not a list of what we have to be in our own strength, but a picture of what we are as the redeemed bride of Christ. What a liberating truth!

Bancroft’s insights are brilliant, biblical, and immensely relevant to everyday life. I cannot recommend Running on Empty enough, whether you are involved in ministry or not. And even if you think it’s not for you, if you know a woman in ministry, she will greatly appreciate this book.

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