This article was written by Maggie Rowe, author of the new book from NavPress This Life We Share. With national Book Lover’s Day coming up on the 9th, we hope this will inspire your reading list!
True story: I’m writing this article while packing to leave on vacation tomorrow. What’s still empty? My suitcase. What’s stuffed and ready to go? My book bag.
It wouldn’t be a pretty sight, but I can live without clothes. The idea of a few days away with nothing to read, however, pushes my panic button. Reading has been my favorite sport since I was a child. Other than when I jump to conclusions, I’m not athletically inclined whatsoever. But challenge me to a marathon that might involve completing X books in X days? I’m your girl.
Choosing only five books that have changed my life is impossible. Every work of literature has the potential to challenge, inspire, entertain, motivate, and transform the reader. Here, however, are my top five picks for books that have impacted a huge piece of my life—that of a woman in ministry.
High Call, High Privilege by Gail MacDonald
The first edition of this book released in 1981 shortly after my husband and I entered full-time pastoral ministry. I was insecure, addicted to approval, and unprepared for the responsibilities that came with being married to “the man in the manse.” When I purchased my first copy of High Call with its lovely lilac cover, I knew I had found a mentor for life in its author, Gail MacDonald. With her deep grasp of timeless spiritual principles, her unflinching look at the challenges of ministry, and her gentle insistence on remaining close to “the Christ of the inner fire,” High Call continues to be the first book I recommend to women in any place of responsibility.
A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot
It was Gail MacDonald who first introduced me to Elliot’s definitive biography of Irish missionary, writer, and social reformer Amy Carmichael. Called to carry the gospel to India, Carmichael labored among and loved the people for fifty-three years without a furlough, eventually caring for hundreds of children rescued from the horrors of temple prostitution. When I began my research for a one-woman drama about Carmichael’s life, A Chance to Die served not only as a primary source but also as a well of inspiration about the life of this singular servant of God.
Open Heart, Open Home by Karen Mains
With over 400,000 copies sold in the forty years since its first release, Mains’ resource on making others feel welcome and wanted has become the definitive classic on Christian hospitality. It was in this book that I first learned that hospitality had nothing to do with entertaining but everything to do with using your home as a primary tool of caring for others. “In Webster’s dictionary, the definition for hospitable is wedged between the word ‘hospice,’ which is a shelter, and the word ‘hospital,’ which is a place of healing. Ultimately, this is what we offer when we open our home in the true spirit of hospitality. We offer shelter; we offer healing.”
So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore
This New York Times bestseller first released in 2010, and over the past decade I’ve taken multiple groups of college women through its pages. I was a bit skeptical initially—this beautiful, brainy Bible teacher has struggled with insecurity just like me? With raw transparency, Moore unpacks the self-sabotage that causes women to feel “less than,” and instead offers hope and timeless principles for soul-deep security that lasts.
The Minister’s Wife by Karen Stiller
Since I began my list with a classic resource for women in places of responsibility, it’s only fitting to conclude with a brand-new resource. In The Minister’s Wife, I found not only a kindred spirit in the author but also a book I can gift to any woman currently serving in pastoral ministry with her husband. While this is a memoir, it’s not a chronological tour of this particular author’s life but rather a beautifully articulated reflection of topics universal to the experience of clergy wives: friendship, loneliness, the challenges of moving, parenting children in a pastoral family, maintaining a strong marriage, and much more. I want to read this book aloud to every pastor’s wife I know!
This Life We Share by Maggie Rowe
Maggie Wallem Rowe is a national speaker, dramatist, blogger, and writer. She performs original one-woman dramas and is passionate about connecting people to God and each other. Maggie lives near Asheville, NC, with her husband, Mike. The Rowes have three adult children and five grandchildren. Her first book, This Life We Share, has just released from NavPress, and she is currently at work on a second with Tyndale House Publishers. Visit Maggie at www.MaggieRowe.com.