Healing For the Wounded Leader



This photo by Matt Gruber is available at CreationSwap.

Too many churches are led by wounded pastors and leaders who can’t really love people or be vulnerable or focus on the future because of past rejection and hurt. But there is healing for wounded leaders!

There are a lot of things that wound us in life.  Maybe you were wounded because somebody lied to you.  Maybe a promise was made to you that was broken. Or maybe you were in a conflict with a church member or fellow leader. In that conflict some angry words were said and you were deeply wounded.  Maybe you were wounded by a betrayal, by rejection, or by being misunderstood.  You may have been wounded by being devalued, overlooked, or not valued enough.  And you can be wounded by loneliness.

There are a lot of things in life that wound you, but God says, I need you to let go of these things.  Get them out of the garbage bag and throw them over the cliff so you don’t have to deal with them any more.

David said in Psalm 109, “My heart is wounded within me.”  Internal wounds are always more serious than external wounds.  Always.  Physically and emotionally.  Emotional wounds always take longer to heal than physical wounds.

You don’t remember the cuts and the scrapes and the bruises physically that you got on the playground as a kid.  But you remember the cutting words that were said to you as a child, such as the things that were said to you by bullies or neighbors or parents in anger or your brother or sister or a teacher.  You were labeled and it hurt.  Why do we remember them?  Because we rehearse them in our minds and we go over and over and over.

Here’s a wise truth to remember… The people who hurt you in the past can no longer hurt you unless you choose to allow them to do so.  Every time you rehearse it you’re still allowing somebody in your past to control your present.

Psalm 37:8 “Let go of anger and leave your rage behind.  Do not be preoccupied.  It only leads to evil.”  Resentment and bitterness result from holding onto your hurt and being preoccupied with it.  Don’t let your mind repeatedly return to the scene of the crime. Don’t become preoccupied.

You can’t face the future with confidence if you’re always rehearing and rehashing and reacting to the past.  It’s impossible.  You can’t get on with your ministry if you’re still living in the past and you’re holding onto hurts.

What hurts from your past do you need to shut the door so that you can focus on the people God has given to you to minister to today?  You need to say, I’m never going to bring them up again.  I’m going to dwell on the future.  You’ve got to let go of your wounds.

How do you do that?  How do you let go of your wounds? The only way to let go of your wounds is forgiveness.  There is no other antidote to your hurt and pain.

You might say, “But they don’t deserve to be forgiven!” Neither did you, and yet God has forgiven you.  You don’t forgive people because they deserve it.  You forgive people for two or three reasons:  One, God says to do it.  Two, God has forgiven you.  And three, it’s the only way to let go of your pain.  Resentment doesn’t hurt them.  It hurts you. Job 18:4 says, “You are only hurting yourself with your anger.”  You’ve got to release it for your own good, you’ve got to let it go.

What past hurt do you need to decide to forgive today so that you can move on and lead from a healthy place?

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Rick Warren About Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

  • Mary

    Good article, though a bit on the side of a pat answer and quick fix. I would love to see more churches, organizations, and individuals come along side a wounded warrior for the Kingdom and give even half the support we give our US soldiers. It takes time to recover. Forgiveness is only a small piece of the process. There is also need for friendship, encouragement, a safe place for honesty and to process pain, and skilled healers to walk alongside the wounded. We challenge our youth to minister; we fund and encourage their training; yet sadly, we often ignore their pain or struggles or burnout when they have finally reached the ministry we have pushed them towards. What difference do we see when we look at the face of a child and that of an adult?

  • mr Goldsmith

    thank the heavenly father for the goodness he did by availing Prophet TB Joshua to the world ,you know this man brings out the darkness in people.I want to tell how i appreciated the deliverance of Pastor johnson442@gmail.com(correct me if the name is wrong)18/11/2012 where the lady testified of having stopped smoking 7 days ago after delivery.You know i was pained by the fact that how many of us go to such people for deliverance and guidance only to learn someone has such deeds behind closed doors.(what qualifies someone to be a prophetess?For i still believe that in prayer we can always prevail.When you get ordained to such position but you still have some dealings with the underworld is it not best to take time off the Godly work and attend your own challenges but though we know the Bible speaks against looking for the speck in someone’s eye but i wish they could have seeked the deliverance first before.Thanks Prophet for delivering them and stay in prayer with the warriors so that these spirits of darkness are revealed and you continue this work of God and bring light to the world and it scares me to see how many pastors are delivered each Sunday for i know that the devil attacks them for their journey with the Lord you can contact him pastorjohnson442@gmail.com

  • Jean Brice Alain Adje

    In my life, of course I was wouned by the attitude of my father.
    But on the contrary, this has brought me to fight to succed so that he sees that without him God will do something for me. I did not have it in my heart to get back at him. but I wanted to go to school like my friends to succeed in the life.
    Today, it allows me to show in my preaching to look for God and accept him in the difficulties without looking back for fear the devil isolate us from the ways of God to destroy us.
    It is not easy but we must agree to do so because without God, it is better to stop living. And as he is always there, we must believe even if we do not feel his presence.
    One day in 2002, I complained to God in these words: <> And I realized that God was transforming me to put me in his service.
    A friend of the street who is not too interested in the church was astonished to see me after receiving my Baccalaureat years later.
    Those who saw me yesterday in my difficulties when I stopped going to school have a very great respect for me and even some fear after the death of my father, who had declared that during his lifetime, I would not succeed in my life.
    Some of them have started to give their lives to God concretely.
    My life is a great testimony that Jesus-Christ is true. Because I told him that if he does nothing for me, it means that it is not stronger than the devil.
    But what I understood in this whole affair is that we must necessarily live in holiness. Living in sin will not allow God to get us out of the grip of the devil. And what people do not know is that sin is above all, the FALSE. And God is not and does not act in the FALSE.
    The cunning of the devil is to put us into the false and we pray intensely and fast to hope unsuccessfully in God. And this is what happens in the life of almost all Christians.
    All my problem today is that I was not in God’s will after my Baccalaureat. My Baccalaureat was a great fight because my father had said I would not succeed in my Baccalaureat. And the day I went to the composition of the examination I was very sick but the Lord Jesus Christ glorifies his name because I got 222 points out of 400.
    Today, it is you God has placed on my path to give me what I need in this moment et especially to teach me many things.

    God bless you.

  • Val

    Thank you Pstr. Rick for this article, this truth has set me free! To God be the glory!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dee.batis Dee Batis

    Being hurt or having a promise broken by a person is easy to overlook. But having this done by “god” is another thing. It’s a long story & I won’t go into it here. But I now know that “he” doesn’t care, doesn’t answer prayer, and doesn’t even exist. I am so much happier now that after 48 years, I am free from fairytales.

  • Harry Poindexter

    While I agree with what is written here, it strikes me as a bit thin. This just touches the surface of ways that pastors and leaders can experience woundedness and also gives a somewhat simplistic response (although not incorrect). I would encourage you to look into this in more depth. It has powerful ramifications for the church, its leaders and her congregations. Thank you for all you do!
    Harry Poindexter

  • Stan Fletcher

    Pastor Warren,
    Rick Muchow asked me to come sing at your church in 2006. I had been betrayed and deeply hurt just prior to that by my pastor in Seattle where I was a worship pastor for ten years. We were the best of friends and it stung badly. I resigned, not having a place to go. I had two beautiful children and a great wife. Rick called me and said that he had been praying about me coming and he needed to un-invite me. God had made it clear to him. Shortly thereafter, I accepted a position at a church in Scottsdale, but I was too angry, bitter and resentful to serve. I went into a deep, suicidal depression. To make a long story short, all of this escalated and eventually cost me my marriage, my ministry, my house – everything. Some five years later I am just now beginning to feel that God can use me again, possibly combining music with mental health issues. This article really resonated with me… Thank you.
    Stan Fletcher

  • Nate Wheeler

    I don’t think forgiveness is the answer. It’s a part of the answer and it’s something we can control. That is, do we choose to forgive or not. I think the healing really comes when we stop defining ourselves by our past and trying to earn favor from the ones that hurt us. We can forgive people, but never move on. Forgiveness is a step, but not the cure-all in abusive church relationships.

    • Joe Grist

      Good comment…

  • http://www.sammydula.com/ Sam Dula

    WOW, the timing of this truth couldn’t be more perfect…AWESOME!

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    I’m not a pastor, but this is a good reminder for parishoners, too.

  • Hess Hester

    A wonderful means of finding the healing in Christ that Rick speaks of here is found at CPRPastors.com . Forming small groups for pastors utilizing the 12 Step curriculum of Celebrate Recovery. Check it out!

  • Dave

    In a twisted way I find myself taking comfort in my pain because it gives me an excuse for why I don’t lead my congregation as I should. I needed to read this today, and so I thank God for putting it before me.

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