I posted a few weeks ago a post in which I pondered the oddities of Amazon’s book reviews. No matter whether the book was good, bad, or so-so (in my judgment, at least), every book’s profile eventually assumes a certain ‘shape’. Most reviewers love it, and few hate it.
It was as I was thinking about these things that my friend Mike Osborne gave me a copy of his recently released book, Surviving Ministry: How to Weather the Storms of Church Leadership, on dealing with the struggles of ministry. Mike has been through the mill, as they say, which is a powerful image when you think about the mill stones used to grind grain into flour. Who wants to go through that?
Which is precisely the question. But many pastors do, and some do not come out the other side. Mike’s heart and desire in this book is to help pastors endure, survive, and flourish. And he does a great job in reaching that desire.
But when Mike asked me to review it – on Amazon – I was inwardly conflicted. What if I only thought the book was ‘so-so’? What if I didn’t like it? I can’t write a glowing review of something I find less than stellar. I know Mike’s heart, but I did not know how that would translate to the page. If I had to write critical things, what would that do to our friendship?
As I say in the review (and what follows is taken largely from my Amazon review) that was an unfounded fear. I can honestly say that this is a wonderful book. It is deeply helpful for the pastor entering ministry or struggling to survive conflict. Mike is genuine and transparent. He is a good pastor and a man committed to Christ’s church and Christ’s people. And he cares for pastors.
He gives practical guidance for those seeking a call to a church, for those seeking to survive one, and for those who have come through a difficult experience. His words ring true because he has lived that of which he speaks. He has made the mistakes he calls us to avoid. From the vantage point of one who has survived, he reaches out a hand to guide us through.
The book is well paced, showing a careful balance between instruction and illustration. It is practical and biblical and thoughtful. And it is SHORT which in itself is a virtue. Mike gets to the point quickly, and I consider that a gift (one I do not have).
Having read the book, the best testimony I can give is to buy it and give it to others, which I have done. I recommend other pastors buy it and read it themselves.
The only problem I have is the book’s price. Amazon has it listed for $22, pricey for a book of 150 pages. The publisher explained to me the reason for that, but that does not make it easier for us on a budget. What does make it easier is to buy the Kindle version ($9.99) or to buy it directly from the publisher ($17.60 plus shipping). And yet, I say, ‘Pay it’. I’ve paid such prices for books far less helpful.