Wounded Healers

He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed (1 Peter 2:24, NLT).

Have you been discouraged recently? I mean, more than usual?

Through talking to believers and pastors recently, I’ve sensed a profound struggle to keep hope alive. Many have said that 2022 was even more difficult than the COVID year of 2020.

One of my favorite books – all-time favorites – is titled The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen. I’ve heard Nouwen’s title used in other books, social media, and both e-articles and print articles – as a catchphrase for all followers of Jesus to become wounded healers.

Henri Nouwen introduces his book as a tenacious attempt to respond to ministers who are questioning their own relevance and effectiveness. I’ve had these questions myself over the past few years. I’ve listened to church leaders verbalize their doubts and also many followers who express purpose and meaning vexation.

Nouwen writes for pastors, but his words have relevance to all of us …

For the minister is called to recognize the sufferings of his time in his own heart and make that recognition the starting point of his service.

Thus nothing can be written about ministry without a deeper understanding of the ways in which the minister can make his own wounds available as a source of healing. Therefore, this book is called The Wounded Healer.

As a pastor, I’ve found seasons of blessing after a time of confusion, doubt, or struggle. The Apostle Peter writes we are to follow the example of Christ in His suffering, so God’s grace may be released in us (2 Peter 2:21-25).

A leader, a parent, a teacher, a business owner – all of us who lead in any way – must first walk the path to which we call others. We know inherently that all paths have thorns and thistles, ups and downs, and quite a bit of stumbling on roots and rocks squarely in our way.

Overcoming, continuing, and then authentically sharing our sufferings allows integrity in our leadership that others will follow.

But many leaders, parents, teachers, and business owners take a shortcut. Perhaps a seminar, or a list of the “five best ways,” or a willingness to pay half the cost. We often sacrifice our integrity in leadership by following cheap substitutes of compromise, lust, power, or wealth.

Okay, back to pastors and to all who follow Jesus … 

I’m not insinuating that you are compromised or that you are not paying the cost. What I am suggesting, as pastors and parents, is that we will notice that too many of those we lead are compromised.

And it’s discouraging. We pray, and we preach – but is anyone listening?

My advice would be for us to become wounded healers, allowing our griefs to be a witness of the abundant joy found along a path of thorns.

This amazing passage of scripture describes Jesus …

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up (Hebrews 12:2-3).

Let’s remember when we suffer, that pain brings a depth of knowing Jesus and His joy.

In our joy, others can find Jesus. This is the ministry of a wounded healer.

Sisters, brothers, leaders, parents, and followers of Christ – keep walking. Your joy is around the next bend.

Do not lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:17-18).

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