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

Welcome to part two of “Issues Pastors’ Wives Face: Dealing With Criticism in Ministry”. If you missed part one, you can read it here, along with the story about what prompted these posts.  After you’ve caught up, let’s jump back in with a few more tips:

3. Make sure that you are not the one doing the criticizing.

Have you ever noticed what is the immediate reaction of the flesh when being criticized? It is the temptation to find something to criticize that person about!  If we are not careful, we head into a tailspin of negative thoughts about the other person, justifying why what they said isn’t true, and pinpointing their own hypocrisy. How do we stop ourselves from heading down this prideful path?

I’ve found it extremely helpful to immediately stop myself in the spirit of Philippians 4:8, “Whatsoever things are true, lovely, of good report…Think on these things.”  I literally give myself a command to stop the trail of thoughts. Then I turn to God in my heart and pray, acknowledging that He knows this trial is good for me, and asking Him for peace. Guess what happens? The negative thoughts about that person melt away, and I am able to think of them often with pity, and without anger.

Not only do the critical thoughts disappear, but the blessings of obedience quickly follow: A flood of peace. A wave of joy. The sense that everything is going to be ok, since the issue is now in God’s control. After all, it’s not about me. It’s about HIS glory and it’s about HIS plan to make me more like Him.

4. Commit to pray for the person who has given the criticism.

Pray earnestly and without anger for the person who is trying to hurt you. Pray that God will convict them, and that He will open their eyes to their hurtful words.  This, again, puts the matter into God’s control. We know that He does not always rectify the situation immediately- sometimes He wants us to endure and keep our eyes on Him!

Pray that God will give you the grace to extend love to the person who has criticized you. God loves to answer this type of prayer, and He will enable you to show love. Something that helps me tremendously is to remember that this person is someone who God loves dearly. Who am I to treat them any other way? In the flesh it is impossible to treat them with love. But with God’s Spirit? Amazingly possible.

5. Don’t wait for an apology before you forgive.

If you are waiting around for the critical person to come and apologize before you forgive and offer love, then you will end up being as bitter as they {likely} are. Pastors’ wives are sinners too, and have the same temptations to hold grudges. But we also have the same responsibility to forgive as any other believer.

Forgiveness is first a choice of the will. Secondly, it is a work of God’s grace. You make the choice before God to forgive the offender. Then {this is beautiful!} God steps in and with grace washes away the sting of the offense. I didn’t say it totally erased. I said He takes away the sting. And then begins the healing process that only God can do. I have found that after forgiving and healing time, I can’t even remember all of what someone said- the incident becomes ‘fuzzy’ in my mind, and I’m content to let it stand that way.

But is forgiveness sometimes one-sided? Oh yes. But each one is responsible before God. Don’t be the one who isn’t forgiving!

Forgiveness is a spiritual exercise. You have to practice. And miraculously, by God’s grace, it becomes easier and easier to do.

If you’ve been a pastor’s wife for very long, you’ve realized that in order to remain in ministry, you have to learn to make forgiveness and grace-giving a habitual practice.  Words still hurt, and it’s still a struggle between the flesh and the spirit, but God’s grace is so abundantly sufficient!

Could this be the answer to not secretly wishing once in awhile that our husbands would choose a different vocation?

It is, my friend. We’ve ALL been in that spot, probably more than once.  But there is hope- it’s found in keeping our focus on Christ, and by His grace responding to criticism in a Biblical way.

I will freely confess that I have not always responded Biblically- I’m a sinner just like everyone else. But I can say that over time God has taught me how to manage criticism so that it does not cripple my ministry opportunities. I am truly thankful for the criticism that has helped make me more like Christ. Do I wish for more? Of course not. It’s never pleasant. BUT God’s plan for forgiveness and healing really works. It’s a beacon of hope that shines across the future of ministry!

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. I hope that this two-part series on criticism has been an encouragement to you.

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

  1. This is such an inspiration to me. Thanks again for a great blog.
    It helps in all areas of our lives.

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