I’m pleased and privileged to welcome My great friend, pastor’s wife, church leader and blogger Kerri Weems to the blog today, along with her husband, Stovall Weems, are senior pastors of Celebration Church, a dynamic and thriving church in Jacksonville, FL.
Kerri and Stovall have three children, Kaylan, Stovie, and Annabelle.
“Lean too much on the approval of people, and it becomes a bed of thorns.” – Tehyi Hsieh
One of the hardest things that pastor’s wives face is dealing with what feels like a constant onslaught of criticism.
At times, it can seem like we are constantly navigating a minefield of unmet expectations when it comes to church, our spouse, our children, our home, how we dress, how we spend our money…. yada, yada, yada.
I remember when our church was young and in the planting phase, criticism seemed to come up every week about one aspect of church or another.
We were working so hard just trying to make a service happen in a stinky, worn down middle school gym (hello middle school boys P.E. Smell!) that it felt like a blow to the chest when someone would criticize the music or the message. Or the nursery. Or for having small groups instead of Sunday School. Or for not having the “right” small groups. Sometimes I wanted to just shout out:
“DO YOU SERIOUSLY THINK THAT YOU WANT THIS CHURCH TO BE BETTER THAN I WANT IT TO BE??? DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH WORK IT TAKES TO MAKE A GYM FEEL LIKE CHURCH???? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MANY HOURS A DAY I SPEND OBSESSING OVER SMALL GROUPS???”
(Tip of the day: shouting such things is not an effective way to deal with criticism. I’m only empathizing here, people. Only empathizing.)
Dealing with criticism can wear you down emotionally.
It can sabotage your self-confidence in many areas, including your marriage, your calling, your parenting and your own appearance! I remember one particular Sunday when Stovie was only six months old, I was exiting the church when a sweet lady from our congregation stopped and hugged me.
As we parted ways she said, “By the way, you are really looking great! I don’t know how you took that baby weight off so fast!” I thanked her and rounded the corner feeling pretty good about myself…until I met the next person waiting to talk to me.
It was another dear lady whom I still love to this day. She said, “Kerri, are you ok? My husband and I were just saying how you look really tired today and maybe have put on a little weight.”
That, my friend, is a true story. I share it with you to illustrate that criticism often comes from a highly subjective place. In the course of literally 30 seconds, I went from looking great to looking fatigued and overweight.
NOTHING about ME had changed at all. The only thing that changed was who was talking to me. That day was a real turning point for me in how I deal with criticism. I’m happy to say that other people’s opinions don’t have the hold on me that they used to have.
I believe that learning to deal with criticism in a healthy way is a battle that every pastor’s wife must win to reach her highest potential in leadership.
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