Ministry, Practical Tips, Prayer, Relationships

Issues Pastors’ Wives Face: Dealing With Criticism in Ministry {Part One}

Today I’m sharing my heart with those of you, my dear readers, who are fellow pastors’ wives.  If you’ve walked alongside your pastor-husband for any length of time, you have known criticism.  Since this post went viral, I have received scores of emails from pastors’ wives from all over the world. And the messages of heartache just keep coming…every week, almost every day.

I feel it with you as I read your stories- the desperate, concealed pain that finally has a place to release itself. And my inbox is racked with stories of hurt and injustice, of misunderstanding and of believers who seem to have ill intentions toward their pastor and his wife. The reasons that cause sheep to bite their shepherds may be expounded upon on another day…but today is for the shepherd’s wife who just can’t carry any more pain.

It’s for the sister who feels like she can’t absorb another word of criticism against herself.  I am often asked, “How do you move on and let it roll off? How did you get such a ‘tough skin’?”  I certainly don’t consider myself an expert, but I would consider myself experienced. In our years of ministry, criticism seems to be an area in which God has repeatedly tested me, and has given me victory.  Can I share a few thoughts with you that I hope and pray will encourage you, and will help you continue on and embrace life as a pastor’s wife?

The extent to which criticism hurts me depends on how I manage it.

So how do I manage criticism? How can you take it again and again and still thrive? Let’s look deeper into the process:

1. Evaluate the source of the criticism.

Who the criticism came from is key to working through the troubling emotions.  {In this post I am not referring to mentors and Godly friends who offer edifying encouragements to change. Rather I am referring to criticism from those whom you know would like to mar your reputation.} Did the criticism come from a person who you know to be generally untruthful, habitually prone to gossip, or malicious?  In this case, it is likely that the motives of the person are not Godly. While we have to be very careful about assigning motives,  the Bible is clear about how to differentiate between a carnal mind and a spiritual mind by observing what flows out of them.

Can we learn even from a person who criticizes in anger or bitterness? YES! A very wise pastor once told my husband and I that “God uses critical people to make you more like Christ.”  So I’m not saying that criticism coming from a hurtful person is of no value- it is of great spiritual value to simply BE CRITICIZED by them (more on that in Part Two). And then secondarily you can evaluate whether or not their statement deserves attention. Which brings us to the second thought:

2. Determine if there is truth to the criticism.

Critical people often say whatever comes to mind that they think would be influential to cover their own guilt and make another person look bad. Have you ever laughed at the preposterous statements that have been made about you or your husband? Probably we all have. In fact, you may have found out some things about yourself that you didn’t even know just by hearing what was going around in the rumor mill. Ask God for grace to help you just let those things roll off. They really aren’t worth your time to worry about!

Some things are more easily shaken off than others, aren’t they? But then there are those lies and accusations that make your character look spotted, should the hearer believe the statement. Some criticism is ministry-damaging, which is a very fearful spot to be in. The temptation to rise up and set the record straight? Oh yes, it comes to all of us. But don’t do it.

God is able to defend you. But He wants you to step back and let Him work.

 My husband and I have seen God defend us over and over again, often without us saying a single word to defend ourselves. We stake our ministry life on the belief that He will continue to, based on His Word. He will do the same for you, my friend! It is a healthy exercise in self-discipline to put the matter into God’s hands. {To add a disclaimer, I realize that there are situations where critical words truly do need to be addressed person-to-person. God gives liberal wisdom in determining which issues to rebuke, and which ones to leave alone.}

There’s more to this issue, isn’t there? We’ll discuss a few more aspects of dealing with criticism coming up in Part Two.


Dear pastor’s wife, are you struggling? Do you need a prayer partner? I would love to add you to my prayer list of pastors’ wives and pray for you consistently! Send me a private message through my website and I will respond to you personally.

You have just read Part One of ‘Dealing With Criticism in Ministry,’ which is just a slice from my new ongoing series of “Issues Pastors’ Wives Face”. Don’t miss out on future posts! Subscribe by email in my right sidebar. And join me on Facebook where I share extra content throughout the week. Introduce yourself and we’ll have a chat. 🙂

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Read Part Two of “Dealing With Criticism in Ministry” here.

20 thoughts on “Issues Pastors’ Wives Face: Dealing With Criticism in Ministry {Part One}

  1. I loved this! I can relate so well to the Lord defending our reputation for us. It takes a lot of trust in Him and self control though! Considering the source is also great advice!

    1. So true…it strengthens our trust and helps us through the next time when we’ve already seen God move on our behalf. Sometimes He lets us ‘look’ bad to others to humble us and bring us to the place of only caring what HE thinks. It’s so good for our spiritual growth- pain always is. Thanks for your thoughts, Krystle!

  2. Thank you… I am learning still too, to allow God to fight for me and my family against injustices that I know are abounding… But also the many more that are stewing that only He knows about! It is hard! And scary! But God is faithful, and a very present help in trouble (ps 46:1).
    Thank you for stepping out and ministering (on purpose) to pastors wives. I appreciate it.

    1. Shonda, thank you for sharing you thoughts. Every time criticism happens it makes us a bit stronger spiritually, even though sometimes at first it feels like it made us weaker. The key is responding the right way! In regards to ministering to pastors’ wives, I just try to say what I know we are all thinking/struggling with. Believe me, the edits are many- I pray as I write to make sure it is coming across the right way. Blessings to you!

  3. Thanks for another great post with good reminders. We need to stand still and let Him fight for us. Love & Prayers my friend!

  4. Excellent post, Leah, your post not only for Pastors’ wives,
    it applies to all Christians, every now and then, we all
    experienced the same criticism and rumors that could
    send us over the edge, only when we turn our eyes on
    Jesus, will the matter be resolved with the peace of God.
    I agree the source and motive are very important.

  5. You have such a precious, humble heart Leah. Thank you for turning your trials into sources of blessing and encouragement to others. Hugs!

  6. A very good post! I agree that a Pastor’s Wife does get criticism but I just want to give a different perspective though…not all Pastor’s Wives are victims of criticism, sometimes they are the ones doing the criticizing and will do it publicly and not out of a heart of love. I just think we need to be careful when we paint all Pastor’s wives as victims. They are human just like the next person and have faults too. All in all though it is a very good post!! 🙂

    1. Jennifer, thank you so much for your input! And yes, we pastors’ wives have to learn ourselves not to be critical, and to shepherd in love alongside our husband. I know I have not been perfect in this area, but it is something I strive to do! I in no way want to portray us as victims- I certainly do not feel that way myself, even having absorbed a lot of pain in ministry. I am blessed by the lessons I learned from those experiences! I talked more about this very thing in Part Two {not yet published}- how we need to be careful of being the ones doing the criticizing. Also, learning to manage criticism the right way will KEEP us from having a victim mentality. I think we are on the same page. 🙂

  7. Thank you Leah for an honest refreshing post! What a great biblical reminder! It is extremely easy to want to respond in the flesh (I’m currently experiencing this particular trial right now) which I can humbling say in some cases I have responded wrong, but The Lord continually reminds me of Matt 5:44…… If we will use this verse as a stepping stool, it changes our thought and response in it. The steps? love them, bless them, do good into them and most of all pray for them! When I live out this verse, wow what a difference…. I can be freed from the pain the enemy (satan) tries to inflict through it! Thank again sister!
    An ever so growing Pastors wife 😉

    1. Laurie, I like the way you put that- “I can be freed from the pain.” And it’s so true- when we process criticism God’s way, He frees us from the pain and gives us the motivation to keep loving and serving! Thanks so much for your thoughts. Blessings to you!

  8. Help! I need some some guidance with a problem. We have been in ministry for 25 years but have recently moved to a new church that is quite a bit smaller than we are use to but chose this church because we felt that it was the right decision. The problem…a few years ago several “prominent” people in the church had a “falling out” and 2 couples left for years. Now that we are here, they are starting to come back to church . Not knowing(and it wouldn’t have mattered) the history of these people, my pastor husband and I have been reaching out to them and they are regularly attending church. Now I have been getting pulled aside frequently after church services etc. and being warned not to have anything to do with them. Some of the church members involved have even become cold to me and my husband over this. We are in the business of caring for all of God’s people and cannot be rude and discouraging to those wanting to hear God’s word. Any ideas on how to deal properly with this?

  9. How are you pastor I was so blessed with the message which was on criticism. Iam married to a pastor and Iam also pastor of the church. We started the work with my husband here in South Africa but originally we are from Zambia. We are poineering this work. I have been criticised a number of times by this person and now it is like she has recrute more people to be on her side. She has been saying Iam a demon. she says can not penetrate to me and then she has been spreading romurors about me of which I havent done or said. My question what can be done to person like this and what should I do coz I’ve been quiet all this time but now I want speak back with anger coz it has been long and its making me like i dont want to be where she is. It like Iam developing anger. Thanks in advance

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