Over the weekend and in some social statuses I was introduced as “This is my Pastor’s Wife”! It took me a second to own the title upon this introduction, but I quickly and inwardly shooed away the insecurity that arose (because who has time for that?!) and dove deep into sharing  my “non-biased” belief of being a part of the best church with the BEST people in the world!

As a result of growing up in religious circles, I’m familiar with titles, their impact on people and the dysfunction that comes along with the carnal desire (in us all) to be recognized and honored. I’ve seen the wounded limping around grasping for healing because of the pride and ego that emerges with power trips, struggles, and battles of religious titles and territories that devastate those we’ve been given to faithfully steward, shepherd, and love.

But I’ve also seen the gracious, incredibly honoring, and life-giving women (and men) who emerge as pastors and leaders. I always allow these people to stay at the forefront of my heart and mind. As I journey into this new season as a church-planter, pastor’s wife, and other roles, I remember the three female Pastors who have made a mark on my life and resonate in my heart.

I will always honor and cherish each of them and they have taught me some profound and precious things.

  1. My mother, Pastor Susie Shanlian, Atlanta City Church 
    Many knew her as Susie Snow, but she was my first “Pastor’s Wife.” She taught me unconditional love and perseverance. God knew I needed the world’s greatest example of a pastor’s wife who also came in the form of my mother. I believe being a female pastor mirrors the values of a mother; both are the heart of the house. My mother provided safety, love, hospitality, encouragement, nurturing, coaching, and often discipline to those at my first spiritual home. She amplified every lesson with excellence and a teachable spirit while persevering through some difficult ministerial, emotional and mental storms. From her I gained my heart. 
  2. Pastor Bobbie Houston, Hillsong Church
    Many are unaware of my short but life-altering time with Hillsong Church and Hillsong School of Ministry. I have the incredible honor to serve under Pastor Bobbie Houston and watch a global vision take shape through a local church. She taught me to think GLOBALLY. What I want done for the many I first do for the one. Her reach is local; but her impact global and that takes VISION. She taught me to dream big and work hard and that the most powerful entity on the face of the planet is the local church. She taught me to empower people and love them thoroughly. From her I gained my vision. 
  3. Pastor Kerri Weems, Celebration Church
    This Pastor leads with grace and wisdom. I truly believe we’ve only experienced an ounce of all that is within her as she wonderfully leans into seasons well and she freely shares grace. In fact, she taught me a lot about grace. That it has many voices throughout seasons, yet it all remains the same; extend grace and grace will always extend itself back. She taught me boundaries, that ministry has a personal impact, and we have the power to choose those results. She taught me friendship. She graciously allowed me to experience many aspects of her life and serve in various areas that she tilled the soil and planted the seeds. I learned that ministry can be hard. However, life can still be fun and it is important to celebrate the wins as they come. She also taught me to keep moving forward. From her I gained grace…for myself and others. 

With each passing year, I reach deep into the depths of my experiences and words of wisdom these women spoke, however, the lessons above keep bubbling up. I honor these women for who they are and the position they’ve taken before God and His people. I pray God would see me fit to carry on their heart, vision and grace to another generation in need. So, with my extroverted heart, often pushy vision, and loads of grace, I move forward into the purpose and plans of God for my life. I stand on the shoulders of women who’ve done it right and those who’ve done it wrong; both are lessons for life. I’m excited to establish a heart for a new home, a strong and big vision for the local church to carry God’s message to the world, and extend His grace to those in desperate need.

Let’s go after the one; let’s go after the many.

With all my heart,