Deanna addresses the feelings all leaders deal with when they become frustrated and want to quit.
Host: Judi Cotignola
Deanna addresses the feelings all leaders deal with when they become frustrated and want to quit.
Host: Judi Cotignola
Deanna addresses the feelings all leaders deal with when they become frustrated and want to quit.
Host: Judi Cotignola
What makes a leader successful? Why do some succeed and some fail? Find 3 keys to help you be the successful leader you want to be.
Host: Judi Cotignola
E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Part 2 of the most controversial and challenging messages Deanna has ever preached. Recorded live at the Stronger Conference in Orlando, FL.
Host: Judi Cotignola
E Mail: email@example.com
One of the most controversial and challenging messages Deanna has ever preached. Recorded live at the Stronger Conference in Orlando, FL.
Host: Judi Cotignola
E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
ABC News recently reported that, “More than 1 million people rallied at women’s marches in the nation’s capital and other cities around the world Saturday…”
As the women’s ministries director for the Peninsular Florida District of the Assemblies of God, I am hoping this was a wake up call for the church and it’s leaders.
As percentages go, there is a phenomenal amount of support for women’s ministries in our district. Particularly in the last three years – we have seen a record number of churches come on board to establish women’s ministries in the local church as well as participate in what our district has to offer. We are so thankful for all the Lord is doing. Yet, there are some pastors/leaders who are resistant to the idea of having an established women’s ministries in their church or connecting beyond the local church. Here are a few things I’ve heard…
“Our ladies get all that they need through our main services at the church. As far as anything additional, we plan events like shopping trips to the outlets a few times a year. Let’s be honest, that’s what women really want…to go shopping.”
“The discipleship needs of our women are met through the membership track we have at the church, for all adults. There is no need for specialized ministry to women. We’re doing just fine as we are.”
“Frankly, I’m afraid to establish a women’s ministry. That would give the women a place to gather and talk and possibly become negative and gossip and before you know it, I would have conflict in the church. I just don’t need that. I’d rather not give them a platform to meet.”
“Women’s Ministries is an outdated concept and structured like something from the 1950’s. That’s just not where our church is at.”
Well, not surprisingly I have some insights on all this…
First of all women will gather and talk whether a pastor gives them a place to do so or not.
Second, women are longing for more than to spend a few hours at the outlets with their friends. What we experienced Saturday in our nation was a cry in the streets. Are we listening? Without a doubt a lot of women don’t even realize what their heart is truly crying out for. But the church has the answer! What do we do with that opportunity?
Third, I am wondering how many church membership and discipleship tracks are addressing subjects such as abortion, rape, harassment, gender identity, etc. There are issues today’s women are facing that are not addressed from a biblical standpoint in a shopping trip or a membership class.
Fourth, regarding women’s ministries as an outdated concept – when is the last time you checked out what is happening in women’s ministries? I think you will be surprised at what you find. Lives are being transformed from the inside out. I would love to take you on a virtual tour of what is happening in Pen Florida, alone. What God is doing in and through women is nothing short of amazing.
Pastor, women will gather. They will mobilize. Will it be at your church? As spiritual leaders, we must be proactive and approach people even before they reach out to us. On Saturday as they watched the march on television, many spiritual leaders shook their heads in amazement and responded with “What is wrong with these women? They’re crazy!” Some retaliated with rebuttals on Facebook. A better response would be for each of us to ask ourselves, “How can I lead the way in meeting the spiritual needs of women who are crying out for help?” Even better still, how can we meet those needs BEFORE they are crying out for help?
I am not judging pastors. I’ve been one myself for almost 30 years. Now serving in the district office, I spend my life primarily encouraging pastoral leaders and their spouses and women’s ministries leaders. It is with a heart for every one of those leaders and their churches that I share this. I am hoping that every pastor will prayerfully consider what they are prayerfully and strategically doing to help the women of their church and community walk in their God given purpose and destiny.
I spoke with one pastor who said, “Deanna, we might not have a formalized women’s ministries, but there is ‘women’s ministries’ all over our church! Women are serving. They are greeters, they teach classes, they work in the nursery. They serve. THAT’S real women’s ministry.” Respectfully…no it’s not. That is women IN ministry, not ministry TO women. For decades, women were little more in the church than the predominant work force, lacking replenishment for their own soul or recognition for their efforts. In recent years there has been an exodus of women from the church nationwide. Scores of them have taken their gifts and passion and invested it in the business world where they find themselves respected as equals and their work genuinely valued.
The last U.S. Census shows that women are the majority population in the United States by a slight margin and in the church they have historically been the greater margin as well. Not only are they typically the largest population of any pastor’s congregation, but they have greater pressure, needs and influence in the world than ever before.
Author Bev White Hislop says, “The physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs of women may be greater than at any previous time in the history of the United States. There may have been more traumatic circumstances in the lives of American women, but there probably has not been a time when women have had fewer helpful connections and less effective shepherding.”
I plead with you to not simply write off the women who marched as ungodly or crazy. May we look deeper and ask ourselves what we can do to reach out in love and provide a place where women will discover the hope and freedom that only Jesus can provide.
Would you like to have more resources in ministering to the women in your congregation? I am here to help. email@example.com
Deanna Doss Shrodes is the Women’s Ministries Director for the Pen-Florida District of the Assemblies of God. Deanna is most passionate about investing in leaders and leadership health. Deanna is an Assemblies of God ordained minister and has served as co-pastor alongside her husband Larry, for 29 years. Currently they are lead pastors of Celebration Church Tampa (AG). Deanna is a speaker in demand in the United States and abroad, and is an accomplished musician, worship leader and recording artist. She is an award winning writer and contributing author of five highly acclaimed anthologies and sole author of the books, JUGGLE: Manage Your Time, Change Your Life, Worthy to Be Found, RESTORED: Pursuing Wholeness When a Relationship is Broken, and STRONGER: 30 Powerful Principles for Leaders, all published by Entourage Publishing. Deanna has been featured in many publications worldwide, including The Huffington Post.
By: Deanna Shrodes, Director of PFWomen
Many leaders are hard workers, but lack the outcome they long to see. Truly hard workers find themselves discouraged and depressed wondering, “Why am I seeing little fruit?” Many are on the brink of resigning out of frustration. I have encountered this phenomenon many times, and have pondered possible reasons for it. Being someone who works hard and sees many of the outcomes I’ve dreamed of, I’d like to provide some insight on this. I’m not writing this to appear as if I have it all together. I’ve fallen flat on my face at times. But I’ve also had a lot of successes. I share this as someone who has had dreams come true and wants to help others see their dreams come true as well!
Here we go:
Spend time on the right things.
A leader cannot do it all. Great leaders trust others and develop a strong team. And at the same time, there are multiple areas that must be addressed by the leader personally to move the organization forward. There are thing that cannot and should not be delegated. Some leaders have too much on their plate and others too little. Some have left essential items off of their plate. And, some simply have the wrong mix of things on their plate. Have you prayerfully considered what should be on your agenda?
Years ago, Saleena Smith*, a pastor’s wife, shared with me that her husband was experiencing depression over their church which was in a state of decline. On the surface it was puzzling because her husband was a Godly man who worked hard. He arose early in the morning to seek the Lord. He prayed about what he was to bring the people from the Word each Sunday. He faithfully pored over commentaries, preparing weekly messages and was an excellent preacher. However, looking beyond the surface into her husband’s weekly schedule brought clarity. It was Pastor Smith’s custom was to spend literally all of his working hours on two things: his Sunday sermon and prayer. When his wife gently spoke to him about the lack of time spent on anything else he responded, “There’s nothing more important than the Word and prayer! That is why I spend all of my weekly time on it! If I just feed the people, the church will grow.” And yet year after year, despite how great Pastor Smith preached and how much he prayed, the church continued to decline.
The reality was that Pastor Smith had the two most important things on his plate, but left some other essentials off. While it is a true statement that there is nothing more important than the Word of God and prayer, a pastor who spends no time equipping the saints for ministry (Ephesians 4) and addressing things like discipleship, leadership development, vision, outreach, etc. will get stuck regardless of how many hours they pray or study. Leaders must accomplish multiple tasks a week to move forward and it’s important to identify the most important items and unapologetically spend time on those.
When it comes to my role in directing PF Women, I can lead great events but if I’m not investing in leading my team members up close and personal, we will experience decline. Things can also begin to stagnate when we focus only on the parts of leadership we enjoy the most. I love preaching as much as the next preacher – but if I exert all my energies into traveling around and speaking and don’t keep a pulse day to day on the administrative matters of the ministry – it won’t take long for things to implode. A good leader identifies what should be on their plate and how much time to allow for each of those areas for the organization to move along at optimum speed.
Spend money on the right things.
Many leaders are focused on what is best for themselves first, and then their staff or inner circle. Here’s a principle I have learned. When I put the needs of the organization first, the resources are there to cover everything including myself and the staff/team. When what you do is based on self preservation, it will decline at some point. Leadership is others-centered. When you keep it that way, it works. When you revert to self preservation you enter decline. Because leadership was never about me or you. It’s about them.
Pastor Rick* dealt with a problem many pastors struggle with in their churches…a lack of financial resources. The church was barely making budget week to week, but he faithfully plodded on in the work of ministry at First Church and he had a small but loyal and hardworking staff. He longed for an increase in the finances to do all of the projects and outreaches he dreamed of.
One week the church received an unexpected financial blessing from one of the members who sold a home. Pastor Rick considered what to do with the financial gift and settled upon the idea of replacing the church phone system since it was so out of date. While the phone system was a blessing to the office staff this did little to move the struggling church forward in any way. Buying a phone system isn’t a wrong thing to do, but the timing in this particular case was unwise. The church hadn’t done any outreach in the community for a long time, due to lack of resources and yet they had a brand new phone system but not many people left to call.
PF Women has experienced the blessing of God upon our finances. Not only did we quickly get out of almost $75,000 worth of debt that was there when I came into office, but we have operated in the black since that time and moved forward to do great things for leaders in the local church as well as giving to missions around the world. Day by day we get stronger. Part of that is good financial stewardship as well as strategizing carefully to spend money on things that will bring the greatest return.
When I’m looking at what we need to spend money on both from week to week and year to year, I consider first what is going to be best for those we serve. Honestly there are quite a number of things in my office that could be replaced and make life more comfortable for myself, my assistant or our leadership team. But leadership isn’t first and foremost about what makes the leader or their team more comfortable. Leadership is about helping others. My goal every morning is to wake up and reach more people and serve them better. As our team does that, guess what?? The resources increase and we are able to acquire things along the way that also help make things better for the team. (Our registration and 1,000 Sisters team is doing a happy dance right now about the new laptops that are on the way to replace the antiquated ones. Truth be told, we needed these laptops three years ago but it wasn’t the proper timing. Because we spent the money on things that increased our reach and our revenue we now have more money for things like upgraded computers.)
There are many things I could share about properly stewarding the finances of a ministry for growth but for time and space sake I will just hit a few:
Get the right people in the right place.
Examine the leaders around you closely. (This article assumes you have at least a few leaders in place. If you don’t that’s another article for another time.)
I make it a practice to recruit what I believe is the right person and with specialized skills being secondary. (I realize it’s different when you are hiring someone such as a music pastor. Obviously a very specific skill set it required.) For instance, when I met Liz Capano of Faith Assembly Orlando, I knew I wanted her on my team. I didn’t even know in what capacity yet. I just knew she was our person. I came to realize she was the right leader to host our radio show and she’s taken it to levels I personally hadn’t achieved on my own. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.
When I’m selecting a leader, generally, “the right person” will have a varied skill set and more than likely serve in several positions over their tenure on the team. Part of that is due to the changing needs of the organization and part of it is, sometimes you have the right person in the wrong spot. Many leaders leave the right person in the wrong spot because of varied reasons such as – they’ve been there for years and are comfortable in that role. Leadership isn’t about comfort. Don’t be afraid to mix it up, or to make course corrections as soon as you discover a change needs to be made. The person overseeing our registration this year may be the emcee next year at our event because we realized – we had them in the wrong spot.
Perhaps nothing is so frustrating as pouring your heart and soul into a place or a group of people and experiencing little of what you’ve prayed and worked so hard for. As a leader I want to help people avoid that frustrating place where they are ready to quit. My prayer is that this article gives a reader in that place even one glimmer of help and hope. I’d welcome a call from any leader in that position who says, “I just need someone to talk through things with, strategize and pray together.”
Here you go: (863) 683-5726, ext 232.
*names and identifying details changed
Hebrews 12:1-2 “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our face…”
I Corinthians 9:24-26 asks, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?” and adds, “Everyone who competes in the games [Olympics] goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.”
I love the Olympics! I am not usually a couch potato, but when the Olympics are airing, I schedule as much TV-time as possible. There is so much to take in—the brilliant opening ceremony; the diversity of the events and the athletes; the heart-warming commercials encouraging the athletes as well as the viewers to be their best; the personal stories about the various participants; the varied cultures of the countries involved; the medal count…
The majority of what we see on television during the broadcast of the Olympics is the actual competitive event. The race. What we only get a glimpse of through video clips and interviews, is the many hours of preparation and the pre-Olympic trials each athlete participates in to be ready for their Olympic event. We may get only a vague look at the physical and mental exercise each athlete goes through to get to continuous, consistent, and deliberate. No athlete got to this point—the honor being an Olympian—by being half-hearted or lackadaisical. Sure, some athletes are naturally gifted, but that gift has to be nurtured if one wants to become an Olympian. Otherwise, they remain mediocre—yes, gifted, but mediocre.
Salvation is a gift. A wonderful gift. But in order to be more than a mediocre Christian, we must nurture this gift. We must be constantly learning, growing, being challenged. We must exercise our spiritual muscles through continuous study of the Word, through consistent prayer, and deliberate exercise of our faith. The ultimate “prize” is the privilege of spending eternity in Heaven (Philippians 3:14, “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”), but to me, the gold medal is to win someone else to Christ so that they too can win the “prize.”
Today’s PF Women Blog has been written by Robin Davis of Winter Haven Calvary Church.
Robin and her husband (Andy) of almost 35 years have served in music ministry, church administration, and event planning since they were married. Her heart and passion for ministry has bled over into her role at the Peninsular Florida District office as she has facilitated the credentialing process for ministerial candidates for over 9 years. Robin will be entering a new ministry this fall as she goes into the public school classroom as a teacher and graduates from Southeastern University in December of this year with a degree in Secondary English Education and Reading and ESOL Endorsements. Robin and Andy have three adult children and eight grandchildren.
How long have you been leading?
I’ve been leading all my life, even if in an unofficial capacity. In a pack of kids at five years old, I was an influencer in the group saying, “Hey everybody, let’s go this way…”
How would you define your leadership style?
I’m passionate about team building. You can achieve greater things through a team. If you want to build something significant and lasting, it has to be through a team. You can accomplish some things on your own, but there are limitations. Because of this and other reasons, I choose to team build. I’m a confident leader and thrive on finding the potential in others and helping them flourish. On a broad spectrum, enjoy discovering and amplify the voices of others, especially up-and-coming leaders. I get energized when I’m surrounded by the most talented people in the room.
On a practical level, my leadership style on a day-to-day basis could be described as organized with an attention to detail, but I don’t have a problem releasing projects to others and I don’t micromanage. I want people around me who know what they’re doing and trust them to do it.
How will you determine what decisions to proceed with that may benefit some at the expense of others?
Prayer! That is not a pat answer. I am a person of prayer and value it above most anything else in my personal life or in the church. Nothing great happens without prayer and no significant decision should ever be made without it. I’m Pentecostal in practice not just in theory and pray in my prayer language every day – that the will of God be done in all situations.
How do you personally deal with conflict?
There isn’t a neat and tidy answer to this question for all situations. In general, I believe that dealing with things sooner rather than later is wisest. I also believe communication early, often and clearly is important. It’s not just important to communicate something in a timely fashion — it has to be clear to be effective. As a leader you can get up and say a whole bunch of nothing. You’ve communicated but not clearly, and therein lies the problem, many times. We can avoid some conflicts by being clearer in our communication up front. Statistics tell us most people don’t really get something until they hear it seven times. I believe in not only telling people something, but repeating it , and in different ways if they haven’t gotten the message accurately the first, second or third time.
In cases where a person is openly divisive, Matthew 18 is the rule. One of the benefits of building a strong team is that you can call on the team to help you resolve conflict, and utilize them in the guidelines given in Matthew 18. The Bible also says to “mark those who cause division among you.” I have had to mark a few people and allow the leadership to do what leaders should be set free to do – lead.
How do you get people to partner with you when you share a vision?
First I would calculate for myself if it was truly worthwhile. I would not try to convince someone else to give or invest of themselves with a vision I am not fully committed to. I can’t speak with any sense of passion about something I’m not personally invested in. After making the decision for myself I would speak from my own experience of why I have decided to invest in whatever venture is on the table. I would do that through a series of creative communications in whatever areas God led me to use – social media, personal one on one meetings, messages at events, letters, etc. And, I would go first in sacrificing and set the example in giving. I don’t expect anyone to do what I’m not also willing to do.
How do you handle situations in leadership where people try to put obstacles in your way? Have you ever had someone try to sabotage your efforts and what did you do?
Yes, many times. My daily prayer with everything and everyone including myself is this: “Lord, if it be of you – let it flourish. And if it is not of you, bring it to a halt.” I include myself and my efforts in this prayer. I just want God’s will. I pray that whatever is of Him would flourish and whatever is not of Him would not. The enemy has a plot, but God has a plan! When you are fully submitted to God and His will and His way, He fights for you. It’s not about God being on my side, it’s about me being on His. When you are on the Lord’s side, you will not fail. Stay close to Jesus, and let Him win for you. The battle truly is the Lord’s but we must be in the right position – close to Him under His protection and guidance.
For those leading a staff, what are things you believe are important in being a great leader/boss?
Lead the way by example. Don’t expect them to do anything you are unwilling to do. Make the sacrifices first before you ask them to. Care about them as a person first. Ask about their family. Listen. Love them. Be as generous as possible. Laugh together and have fun. Celebrate their accomplishments. Show appreciation. When you do all these things, people who are the right fit for your team will exceed expectations. Lead in such a way that anyone would wish they were on your team or had you for a boss.
What mistakes did you make earlier in your ministry or as a leader that you would advise other leaders not to make?
There are many, but these are a few…
First, if I had it to do over again, I’d take more time off. Particularly in our former pastorate, I set the people up for a level of reliance on me that just wasn’t healthy. I took so little time off and they were perfectly happy to let me burn out. If I could go back and have a do-over I would not be personally unhealthy at the expense of the church.
Second, I would have realized that sometimes you win the smaller battles but lose the war. I fought on a lot of things early on in ministry that were just stupid. Looking back I can’t believe some of the things I went to the wall for.
Third, I would have NEVER tried to talk someone into staying in the church when they wanted to leave. (When you talk them into staying they usually affect others in a negative way and take other people with them when they finally do leave.)
I could go on and on with what I would do over again, but these are just a few.
What are some of your favorite books that have impacted you as a leader?
Communicating for Change by Andy Stanley, Start with Why by Simon Sinek, Developing the Leader Within You by John Maxwell, Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge, Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek, Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On by Stormie Omartian.
Where did you meet your husband and how long have you been married?
At the University of Valley Forge and we’ve been married twenty nine years.
Do you have children?
Yes, three. Dustin (26), Jordan (25) and Savanna (19)
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned as a mom?
Example is everything. “Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t work. We have to live a Godly life in front of our kids, for them to succeed. Love them deeply and express it daily. Be affectionate. Don’t spoil them with material things. Give them attention. You can give them too many things but you can’t love a child too much. Be a parent not a pal. Make things like church – youth group – and kids and youth camps as non-negotiables. Don’t major in the minors.
What about as a wife?
Be a great forgiver. Realize that marriage is an everyday exercise in getting beyond your selfishness.
What was the most surprising thing for you, about being a minister’s wife?
The varied, high and unattainable expectations. Every church member has a different idea of who and what you should be and many don’t mind telling you.
If you could give just one piece of advice to a brand new minister’s wife, what would it be?
Read Galatians 1:10 over and over and over. Memorize it. Live by it.
If you could give one piece of advice to a leader in general what would it be?
When everything is going wrong, it’s not always your fault. But when everything is going right it’s not always your fault either.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
My grandmother, Jura Lewis. She taught me resilience, love, commitment, love for the Lord and His Church.
What do the women in our churches need, in your opinion? How can we meet that need?
They need a lot of things including the basics of spiritual formation – things like a close relationship with God and a prayerful and spirit-empowered life. But something important that also comes to mind is that they need to know they are not alone in the issues they face. I think many of us believe no one goes through what we do in the load we bear. It’s not nice to think of the fact that others are suffering in various ways, but it’s a comfort to know you’re not alone or crazy. We can meet the need by opening a conversation and giving helps we have found to navigate the journey.
What do you believe leaders forget sometimes that’s important for them to do?
Three things come to mind.
What’s your favorite Women’s Ministries event? Why?
Our annual leadership team retreat. I really enjoy pouring into people as a smaller group and not just the big events. This retreat is really impactful and prepares our team to minister to people on a wider scale. This smaller meeting is the catalyst for every big thing we do.
What do you like most about being a pastor’s wife?
Having so much opportunity to make a lasting impact on someone’s life. The door is wide open! The sky is the limit.
What do you like LEAST about being a pastor’s wife?
The varied expectations that I could never meet even if I gave it absolutely everything I have.
What is your favorite Scripture verse?
“No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.”
What do you like to do for fun?
Read, write, ride my bicycle, sit on the swing on the patio and watch the rain, take a long bath, be quiet and sip on a cup of coffee or an iced tea. I know that my “fun” is boring to most people
Are you a morning or a night person?
I’m actually both, with an afternoon crash. Ha! I’m raring and ready to go in the morning and accomplish a lot and then usually feel a crash mid-day and get a second wind at night and get a lot more done. Thank God for coffee in the afternoon. (Please do not send me a sales pitch for vitamins, a shake or something to wrap my body in that will fix my afternoon crash. I’ll keep my coffee.)
What is your favorite color? Green
What is your favorite food? Mashed potatoes.
What are some of your “favorites” in life?
Books, writing, classical, jazz, big band, gospel, playing the piano, singing, writing and arranging music, crepe myrtle trees, hydrangeas, roses, dancing (for fun, not performing) cruises, rollerskating, road trips or taking the train, rocking chairs, coffee and tea – the bolder the better, Africa, the tea fields of Kenya, walking through the woods, eating at hole in the walls, being in quiet places and spaces. Solitude – I have to have it to recharge or just to be okay in general. I love people so much and at the same time if I don’t get quiet each day, it’s much more of a challenge to be loving but I try my best to be anyway.
Tell us something people may not guess, about you…
My kids say there is nothing people won’t guess about me because I’m so transparent. I don’t care who knows what about me…sometimes to an embarrassing point for my family. But let’s see…well, I am afraid of putting my head under water. I don’t jump into deep water. The ladies of the church we pastored in Maryland collected money and offered me $700 to jump into a pool. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I tried a few times and got so weak kneed and sweaty I told them to keep the money.
What is your most unusual talent?
I can tell you whether the fries at a McDonalds are good or bad before tasting them. I get a feeling about it when I’m in the parking lot or driving by.
What is the favorite year of your life so far?
My first year as director of PF Women. It was an exciting rollercoaster ride of seeing God’s provision and faithfulness.
What do you like most about your role as director?
I genuinely love every single thing about it. It’s hard for me to pick one thing I love most.
Finish this sentence: “My favorite place to vacation would be…”
Place I have been – Key West or Savannah, GA
Place I have not been – Greece
How do you want to be remembered?
As a person of integrity and love who gave my all at whatever I did, and made a difference in people’s lives and in the world.
Featuring: Lisa Boyd – Pastor’s Wife at Salt Church in Boca Raton, Kristi Hahn – Associate Pastor’s Wife at Crossroads Community Church in Avon Park, Paula Royer, Pastor’s Wife at City Life Church Bradenton, and Deanna Shrodes, Director of PFWomen and Pastor’s Wife at Celebration Church in Tampa.
Deanna: Ladies, after my blog post on 5 Ways to Avoid Posting Things You’ll Regret on Social Media, Paula had the idea of doing a round table discussion for pastors’ wives on this subject. I know I’ve struggled with this issue at times, and evidently it applies to more people than just me. Have you struggled with posting things you on social media you should avoid, and if so in what aspect?
Kristi: I actually do struggle with that from time to time. However my struggle isn’t in posting things myself, but in wanting to respond to other things with my knee-jerk feeling or reaction to something.
Deanna: I totally relate to that, Kristi. I struggle with both things – posting things myself and responding to things other people have posted. The struggle is real!!
Kristi: The struggle is very real!
Deanna: In what situations do you find yourself most wanting to respond with knee jerk feelings or reactions?
Paula: I’d like to know where our boundaries are if any. (i.e. You know someone’s a Christian and you want to say: “You know, Aunt Betty, you shouldn’t be posting things like that. What kind of a witness are you being?”)
Kristi: An area I struggle with is when Christians jump on some political train, or in their efforts to stand up for what they believe in are actually bashing the very people we’re supposed to be reaching. There is a fine line between shaming someone and defending your beliefs. Personally I feel like the truth doesn’t need to be defended. Paula, in a situation like that with “Aunt Betty” I would probably address that concern privately instead of leaving a comment on their post.
Deanna: I agree with you, Kristi, I don’t call people out publicly on those things. I would address it privately. The only time I call something out publicly is if a person continues to post such things on my page after I have asked them not to. If I spoke to it publicly on my page it’s more than likely because they continued on and disrespected what I said to them in private.
Kristi: Agreed Deanna! I also take into account the person to whom I would be responding to. If in general conversations are non-productive then I usually won’t bother addressing the issue and would delete their comments or their post on my wall.
Lisa: I agree, the struggle is often more with responses to others that with your own post. Although, sometimes I will want to post something pseudo political (not obvious on one side or another) but then decide against it due to not wanting to ruffle feathers. I sometimes address family openly. The other day, my cousin had posted a stance on something that affects my immediate family and he was attacking my side. I did shoot out a response defending my side, but I was very carefully worded. I also really struggle when Christians attack other Christians. I usually just end up letting it pass, but I really want to say something. How is that making Christianity look good? “You will know they are my disciples by the love they have for one another” Know what I mean?
Kristi: Yes, yes…I do know what you mean.
Lisa: I also get really knee jerk like when adoption issues come up. It is a big issue for me and I tend to get heated when someone attacks one method of adoption over another. They are all needed. Some people attack those who adopt state side, even from foster care, because in their words, even the worst foster home here is better than most institutions in other countries. I don’t understand why some people attack no matter what. Some people will just smack their mouth, or use smile emoticon no matter what. They have to have something to complain about.
Deanna: And, I get knee-jerky (I know it’s not a word…lol) when adoption issues come up too at times, from my angle. [As a person who is adopted.] I understand! I think most people get triggered on various issues, and some people are triggered on the same things but from different perspectives. I have learned some helps from Erika (my assistant at PF Women) in this regard. She says that there are times when something hits her a certain way and she knows she should be no where near a computer at that time. Now there are moments I tell myself, “Walk away Deanna, walk away…” I’ve also heard it said that, “you don’t need to attend every argument you’re invited to.” Lately when I get upset about something I see online, I stay offline for a while until the urge to retort with something snarky passes. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me in disciplining this area of my life.
Lisa: Great advice. Erika is wise!
Kristi: I tend to do the same thing. I will hold off on responding to things that trigger me to react and not respond until I’m no longer upset or angry by it. I try to remind myself that Jesus responded, not reacted to people and situations. I also hear my husband’s voice in my head telling me to let it go!
Deanna: So true, on all accounts, Kristi! It’s important to calm down before addressing anything. I think that’s wisdom for all situations.
Kristi: For me, personally, as someone who struggles with a natural, fleshly ability to react (and usually react poorly), coming to the realization that Jesus responds instead of reacts was huge. As well as realizing there is a huge difference between responding and reacting, has really helped lessen that struggle for me.
Lisa: I agree. Usually the way I want to originally react, is not the way I end up responding when I allow myself time to carefully consider my response.
Kristi: I’ve been thinking about Paula’s inquiry on boundaries of there are any regarding social media. It has been a recurrent thought of mine over the years as I am married to a staff pastor, but more than that as a Christian what’s appropriate and not appropriate. While clearly the Old and New Testaments don’t define social media acts, I do think we can still glean and apply principles found in the Bible to our interactions on social media. And they really all tie into what we were discussing earlier about responding instead of reacting. I think if our post or comment isn’t going to edify others or certainly the Lord, then we probably should refrain from engaging in that post. As well as, speak truth in love, which the more I think about it really is the essence of responding verses reacting.
Lisa: Another thing we have to be careful about now regarding social media is the things we “like.” Even clicking like on a friend’s repost that was from a questionable source can be looked at poorly. I know sometimes I just notice the funny meme and not the fact that it came from a source that has an expletive in its name. I now always check where it’s from before even clicking like. I know this is a major issue for men also. I have a pastor friend that was talked to about the fact that he liked a friend’s picture because she “looked sexy”. Honestly she was completely covered. She just is one of those women with great hair and full lips and a classic sexy looking lady. (I know that doesn’t really fit our women’s discussion, I just felt like sharing!)
Deanna: Unfortunately we usually learn the hard way on these things! I’ve liked or shared something I didn’t thoroughly read first. So embarrassing. I’ve had to apologize more than once. In the case of your pastor friend who was criticized for liking a friend’s picture — I think that may have come from a judgmental heart versus the pastor truly doing something wrong.
Lisa: I agree completely! It was definitely more the person criticizing’s problem. Social media has added a whole new dimension to ministry. We now have a public presence to maintain. It’s new territory. It can be used for a lot of good, but we also have to be very careful. A world of good can be undone, just by a post or two that is questionable. We now have to think carefully before we post or like something. The world is watching.
Deanna: I often ask myself, “Would I say this if I were sitting with people in my living room, or in my office?” If not, it’s not a good idea to post. Sometimes people tend to lose the reality that it’s people’s lives we’re dealing with online. The conversations are still real and can do a lot of harm, or good.
Lisa: I think we need to be even more careful than even just something we would say in person. In person there is tone of voice, demeanor, but in text you can’t convey those things. We have to be even more watchful.
Deanna: Good point!
Paula: Where does one draw the line in letting things pass versus. holding sisters and brothers in Christ accountable? Without the person feeling like we are the Facebook police?
Kristi: That is a very real struggle and a good point!
Lisa: I usually just let things go, unless I have a strong relationship with the person. I always do it in a private message or in person.
Deanna: I also use settings on my social media sites to handle issues that may arise and not resolve by discussion with the person. I change the setting so the person cannot see everything I post, or contribute to the conversation. I am not the Facebook police, but I am the owner of my personal page, and if I don’t want something there, it doesn’t stay there.
Paula: I agree!
Lisa: Yes, I agree as well.
Deanna: One question I’d like to ask is, how do you personally process hurtful things church members may post — things that you can’t control or speak to at all, but you must forgive and move forward from? These would be comments you have to live with knowing are out there, even if you drop the person from your friends list online, etc. As an example — a friend of mine who is a pastor’s wife had a couple leave their church and spread some negative information. Then a few weeks to months later this couple went to another church in the area and began posting about it on their Facebook pages with jabs such as, “We love our new pastor. It’s so nice to get fed for a change…” or “So happy. We didn’t realize how much we needed our new pastor and church until we made the change. We’d like to invite all our friends to come visit…” I know of so many pastors and their wives who deal with this. One of my friends refuses to be on social media for the simple reason that they find these type of things too hurtful and overwhelming. What are your thoughts?
Kristi: When it comes to things like that or really to people that like to cause trouble like that knowing I can’t really speak to the situation I unfollow them. Like you had said about your wall, it’s my newsfeed and I can control what I see. I don’t need those negative posts affecting how I feel about that situation or reminding me about it.
Deanna: I do the same. My rule of thumb is this…if a person leaves the church on a positive note, I keep them on my newsfeed. If they leave in a negative fashion, I unfollow them. (I may not unfriend them on Facebook – that can cause even more drama with people still attending the church) but I unfollow them and hide everything they post from my newsfeed. I can’t have their comments in front of me and let it get into my spirit. God has too much for me to accomplish and I can’t allow myself to get distracted by negativity. My husband has the same policy. It’s kind of funny there have been people (still at the church) who have criticized him for not responding to certain things, but truth be told — he doesn’t respond because if it’s coming from a negative person, he doesn’t see it in the first place to give a response! Although, I don’t think he would respond anyway even if he did see it, he’d let God defend him.
Lisa: I haven’t dealt with that much. But, when people are overly negative in general I usually just unfollow them.
Paula: Deanna, you must be reading my mail! Wow! I’ve had to hide certain people, but they have mutual friends that post their stuff. So then I need to decide if I delete that person or if I just hide that mutual friend’s individual post.
Deanna: Yes! I feel your pain! Ha ha! Sometimes those negative messages slip through because of mutual friends. Sadly there are times you have to hide others’ posts because of repeated exposure to this negative stuff. But then they say, “Didn’t you see my post about my car wreck and needing prayer???” And you’re like, “What wreck??” They don’t realize you can’t see their stuff without purposely going to their page. But what are you going to say? “I have you hidden because you hang with Negative Nellie and I can see her comments and don’t want to…” Sigh.
Lisa: I agree.
Paula: Or you are supposed to see ALL their posts, because we are on facebook 24/7! What about the posts that we share having to do with church events? “Uh…I didn’t see that…” or “when was that?”
Lisa: YES! They expect us to see all but they never knew about the thing that was announced ever week for a month and promoted on Facebook for the past couple weeks!
Deanna: Paula, that has happened to me a time or two where people were offended that I didn’t respond to something but it just slipped by my view and I was not online 24/7. Things going unnoticed can easily happen when you have a lot of friends on Facebook. Lisa, it does come down to unrealistic expectations so many times in ministry and I guess social media is no exception to that reality. I’m not whining, just saying this is the way it is and if we’re going to be effective, we learn to navigate it…don’t take things personally, let offenses go and move forward.
I believe this is the case with all things – social media and otherwise in ministry. We learn to handle things with wisdom through the discernment of the Holy Spirit. He enables us to respond to whatever comes up with grace.
Thank you ladies for joining me for this round table today. All of your insight is so appreciated.