Wednesdays Are For Women: Elephant Skin

Pastors’ Wives (PW) and women in ministry are incredible sources of wisdom and creativity as they use their gifts in leadership and service.  I highly value their insight, faithfulness, and diligent labor.  That’s why I’m hosting Wednesdays Are for Women.  Each week, we’ll hear from a different PW or ministry leader and gain her perspective on God’s activity on her ministry team, her local church, or the issues facing church leaders today. 

Today, we’ll hear from  Linda Seidler from The Experience in Benwood, West Virginia.  Check out how she responds to living life in the public eye.

My Elephant Skin

I have not always had skin like an elephant, but I certainly do now. And as a woman in ministry, I would venture to say that you probably have it too.  I mean, if you have spent more than one full day in the frontlines of leadership, then I’m just about certain that you will, at one point or another, put on your elephant skin. And maybe you already have.

Elephant skin is my term for that tough, protective covering we put around ourselves that helps to shield us from the hurts and disappointments that occur at a moment’s notice in leadership. It’s the defense method we use so that the negativities of life will not overcome or defeat us. I have learned over the years that elephant skin is a beneficial and necessary requirement for survival in ministry.

Living in the public eye requires us to toughen our exterior a bit, and we find a way to protect ourselves against the damage of hurtful words, difficult situations and condemnation. Developing this method of protection early in ministry will help you to persevere, stay the course, and withstand the constant pressure and demands.

Do any of the following statements sound familiar?

*  You feel like you live in a glass house—people are watching your every move.

*  You make tough ministry decisions that are not always popular.

*  People don’t always understand your “dedication to ministry” and condemn your actions.

*  Your children are under put under a microscope.

*  You have experienced betrayal from “friends”.

*  You’ve endured harsh words from enemies.

*  You have experienced criticism about your hair, makeup and clothes.

*  You are expected to do more and then advised not to do as much.

*  Some people in your church do not talk to you.

*  Other people want all of your attention.

*  Your relatives think you are “over-committed” to ministry and feel left out.

*  You are expected to always be on your game.

Now, if any of these sound familiar, then it is time for you to develop some elephant skin!  The process for me was found in God’s word. And although I have never seen the phrase “elephant skin” anywhere in the bible, I found scriptures to support its purpose. These are the scriptures that I use as my “elephant skin”:

“Weapons made to attack me won’t be successful; words spoken against me won’t hurt at all.”  Isaiah 54:17

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ”  Philippians 4:8

“Greater is He who is in me than the one who is in the world.”  1 John 4:4

“I will put on the full armor of God so that I can fight against the devil’s evil tricks.”  Ephesians 6:11

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts… ”  Psalm 28:7

“The Lord will guard me; he is by my side to protect me.”  Psalm 121:5

So take a minute to find “your” scriptures—the ones that speak directly to you—and begin to develop your “elephant skin” of protection. It will be a source of strength for today and in the many days to follow…

Another cool way to get strengthened is to attend Velocity conference coming in February 2012…this will be a fantastic opportunity to connect with other Pastors’ wives/women in ministry and hear from leaders who understand and care about what you are going through.  Two of my friends and wonderful women in ministry, Tricia Lovejoy and Lori Wilhite, will be sharing their real-life experiences to help you as you blend and balance family life and ministry. Get there and experience Velocity for yourself!

Linda  serves alongside her husband, Tim, in leading The Experience, a growing ministry making people fully devoted followers of Jesus.  For over 10 years, Linda has been leading and inspiring women to value their strengths and unleash their giftings to make a positive difference.  Linda has been married to her first love for 22 years, is a mom to 3 daughters, and craves (unapologetically) coffee and chocolate!  Connect with Linda on Facebook (Linda Seidler) and Twitter (@LindaSeidler).

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