The Pastor’s Wife and Social Media

A Round Table Discussion with Four Pen Florida District Pastors’ Wives

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.

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Lisa Boyd
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Kristi Hahn
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Paula Royer
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Deanna Shrodes

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Kristy: Exactly!

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.