Jules Middleton – Breaking the Mould

I was sent this book before Christmas as an advanced copy to review, but unfortunately I’ve not been feeling great and haven’t been in the mood for reading very much. So the length of time it took me to read is definitely not a reflection of the book, which I thought was fabulous.

As a disclaimer, I’m neither in ministry or a mum, so I’m almost certainly not the target audience, but I found it so eye opening for a general member of the congregation to see a bit of what it takes to be a vicar, let alone a vicar and a mum.

I loved the style of this book. Each chapter started with a quotation, and ended with a reflection from another ministry mum. The thing I loved most however was the author’s writing style. Very down to earth and with a humorous style that makes the subject seem more approachable and understandable, but she didn’t shy away from tackling subjects that must have felt difficult to talk about, breaking ‘boundaries’ in a way I’ve never read before.

I believe that with Jesus’ help and the help of others around us, we can all thrive as ministry mums. We can thrive with passion. We can thrive with compassion. We can thrive with humour and style. (paraphrased)

With chapters discussing things like keeping your multi-faceted identity while people attempt to pigeon-hole you, to the endless expectations that are piled onto a vicar, and in particular a female vicar who has children.

To be authentic we need to embrace who we are , rather than who we think we are supposed to be.

The book, as you would expect, is filled with the author’s personal experiences and insights, and it definitely opened up a whole new side of thinking for me. Not being a mum myself, I admire any working mum who is juggling a career with bringing up a family, but I’ve learnt so much from reading this book. Not to dismiss people’s complex identities with statements like “you’re a breath of fresh air”, conveying the idea that they’re different and not what you expected.

I said previously that I’m not the target market for this book, but there were so many places that I felt were speaking directly to me, to the point where multiple times I had to put the book down and just sit and think about what I’d just read.

If we can hold on to just how loved we are, whatever we face, whatever rubbish is thrown at us, we might find it easier to deal with fear, condemnation and difficult times.

I’ve been reminded perhaps with alarming regularity, that God’s expectations of us are usually far less demanding and much less judgemental than human ones. Indeed, the Bible regularly reminds us to aim to see things God’s way.

If God can take Moses and his hesitancy, lack of confidence and impatience and use him in such dramatic ways, don’t you think God can use you in your flawed identity too?

I’d personally recommend this book firstly to any woman thinking of entering into ministry, whether or not they have children. But really, I think this book should be read by anyone in a ministry capacity, to give them an insight into what life might be like for people with different lifestyles and backgrounds to their own.

And finally, I’d recommend this book to other people like me – neither in ministry or a mum, but interested in understanding more about how we can support those around us and challenge the male-dominated attitudes that are still unfortunately prevalent within the church and the wider world.

My rating: 5Average rating: 5
160 pages. Published in: 2020
Read in Paperbackon 2nd January – 14th February 2020

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