God Wants to Heal Your Wounds

We all have hidden wounds. Pastor, that includes you. Maybe it’s from your childhood, a painful event that you’re still dealing with years later. Maybe it’s someone who has hurt you in ministry through unfair criticism or attacks on your family. 

And these memories haunt your ministry. You’ve tried everything to get past them. You hide them so no one can use the pain from your past to hurt your ministry. 

But the truth is, you forget physical pain from years back, but you never forget emotional wounds. 

What do you do with that pain so it no longer drags you, your family, and your ministry down?

Admit your hurt.

You won’t get well until you face your feelings. Holding on to a hurt is like having a hot coal inside your heart. It’ll burn you up inside.

You begin to find the answer for your hurt when you own up to it. Revealing your feelings is the beginning of healing. 

By Jill

I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, who celebrates recovery over the loss of faith and struggles with codependency, love and relationship addiction, and sexual brokenness. My name is Jill.

I can’t think of a better way to describe my parents other than being a mule and racehorse. My dad was hot-tempered but steady, and my mother was beautiful while always on the run. I truly believe with all my heart that my parents love me and did the best they could with what had been modeled to them, which was a lot of their own childhood dysfunction.

I have two siblings, an older brother and a baby sister, who truly are and always have been my best friends. It is safe to say that we were inconveniences to my parents’ drama, often forgotten, and never afforded the emotional or physical space just to be kids. We were not the siblings who fought or argued with one another as we learned very young to be quiet, be still, and stay unseen. We stuck together to protect one another and keep the peace.

For the first half of my childhood, my parents were…

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By Rodney Holmstrom, National Field Director 

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

Have you ever seen the movie “Castaway”?

There is a scene where the main character is stranded on an island all by himself for four-plus years. His time on this island was one of misery and loneliness. His biggest goal was to eventually get off this island that had caused so much harm to his life. He was finally able to build a raft and, after many attempts, was able to escape the grips of the huge waves crashing down on and around him.

After escaping the island, there was a moment when he looked back with grief. You could see in his face extensive agony and pain as he saw the island drift away from his view. From the outside looking in, one might conclude that this man was out of his mind. How can he be grieving the separation from something so ugly and heartbreaking in his life? The reality is, although this place was difficult, it was also familiar and predictable.

Isaiah 12:2 reads, “I will trust and not be afraid.” From this, we find…

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“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

Jesus wants you to surrender your whole life to him. He doesn’t want just a part of your life, he wants all of it.

You may think you’ve surrendered enough to him, but Jesus wants it all. C.S. Lewis, the Christian apologist and author of the Narnia series, says Jesus is like a dentist. When you go to the dentist, you want him to fix your toothache. You want him to stop the pain. But the dentist isn’t willing to stop there. If he’s a good dentist, he’s going to poke and prod around your teeth to find out what is causing the toothache. He doesn’t just want to stop you from hurting, he wants to heal what is causing the pain.

This is what Jesus wants to do in your life. He wants to uncover all the sin and hurt…

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10 Commandments of Emotional Health During Stressful Times (Part 2)

Pastoral ministry is full of stress. The past year has been particularly stressful for many church leaders as the world has faced a global pandemic, racial unrest, and unique economic challenges. For many pastors, the world has turned upside down. Burnout has become rampant among church leaders.

But there’s hope. Last week I gave you the first five of 10 biblical actions—what I’m calling “10 commandments of emotional health”—that can help you recharge and refresh during any stressful season.

Last week I urged you to . . .

  1. Show grace to yourself and others. (James 4:6)
  2. Start and end each day refueling your soul. (James 1:21)  
  3. Set and stick to a routine. (Ephesians 5:15-16) 
  4. Reduce your media consumption. (Matthew 6:22-23) 
  5. Schedule a daily time to connect with the people you love. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) 

Here are the next five actions you need to take to avoid burnout.

Share your feelings instead of stuffing…

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10 Commandments of Emotional Health During Stressful Times (Part 1)

Some seasons are more stressful than others—especially seasons of great change. This past year has been such a season for many people, including church leaders. Spiritually leading and nurturing people through an unprecedented time have taken a toll on many pastors. 

Regardless of how much emotional and spiritual reserves you had before the pandemic, a stressful period will deplete your emotional and spiritual tank a little each day, like letting the air out of a tire.

I love what Paul says in the Message paraphrase of Romans 12:12: “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame.”

How do you keep yourself fueled and emotionally healthy during stressful seasons?

Here are the first five out of 10 biblical actions—or what I’m calling “10 commandments of emotional health”—to prevent burnout:

Show grace to yourself and others. (James 4:6)

Treat yourself and others how God treats you—with grace, mercy, and forgiveness. God always gives us what we need, not what we deserve. During hard times, we need extra grace.

Be kind to yourself. Don’t expect yourself…

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How the Church Can Help with Mental Health

I’ve always believed and taught that God uses our pain to help others. I’ve seen that to be true over and over in my life—and in the lives of those in our Saddleback family. Much of the Purpose Driven framework for ministry came from a time of deep pain I experienced early in my ministry. And Celebrate Recovery was born out of the pain of my dear friend, John Baker. 

The same is true with our church’s mental health ministries. My youngest son, Matthew, struggled since childhood with all kinds of mental and emotional pain. These challenges were difficult for him and our family.

Then, the day came I prayed would never happen. Matthew lost his battle with mental illness and took his life in a moment of despair. It was the worst day of my life.

Although not everything that happens in our life is God’s will, I do know he can turn bad into good. God doesn’t want us to ever waste a hurt. 

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When Fear Gets in the Way of Your Relationships

Relationships are at the heart of every effective ministry. Whether they are with your spouse, your family, your staff, your church, or your community, you can’t lead well without having good relationships.

But one thing that can damage your relationships is fear.

Here are three fears that can have a destructive impact on our relationships:

Fear of admitting our faults.

We often get defensive when it comes to our faults. No one likes to admit their weaknesses. Instead, we deny them and even defend them at times. Think about Adam and Eve’s responses in Genesis 3:12-13: “God asked, ‘Did you eat what I told you not to eat.’ Adam answered, ‘The woman you put here with me gave me the fruit and I ate it.’ She replied, ‘The snake tricked me into eating it.’” 

In those verses, we see two common reactions to dealing with failure. We accuse someone else, and then we excuse ourselves. 

Ask yourself this question: What fault do I get defensive about when it gets mentioned?

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Four Ways to Lead With Integrity

You don’t need to read much of the Bible to realize that God cares deeply about his reputation. 

For example, the Bible says in Ezekiel 20:44,Then you’ll know that I am the LORD, when I will have dealt with you for the benefit of my own reputation and not according to your evil attitudes or corrupt practices” (ISV).

But God doesn’t just care about his reputation. He cares about the church’s reputation, too. This is taught throughout Scripture. As Christians, we are “little Christs” who represent Jesus on earth. We can either bring him fame or shame. 

This is important for all believers, but it’s particularly crucial for those of us who lead. We must be people of integrity. The world is watching how we respond to the tests and trials in our lives. We either draw people to Jesus or repel them with our lack of integrity.

To have a ministry of integrity, make these four commitments:

Speak the truth plainly. 

The Bible tells us in James 5:12, “But most…

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By Teri

I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, an overcomer of grief and loss, who struggles with food addiction and unhealthy self-reliance, and my name is Teri.

I come from a Christian home with wonderful parents, and I remember well my first encounter with godly conviction and recognizing my need for Jesus. That was the first day I remember asking Jesus to forgive me and telling Him I would love Him forever. Though I strayed away from my faith during my teens, His love wouldn’t let me go, and I’ve now been walking with Jesus for 42 years.

For many years I lived out my walk with Jesus, believing that God gave me a sound mind, and therefore He expected me to be independent and use my head to figure things out. I relied on my knowledge and abilities to solve my problems. Though I would say the words, “I need you, God,” I meant I needed Him to forgive me and to get me to Heaven, but I didn’t really need Him in my day-to-day living. I was self-sufficient. When problems arose, whether in marriage or parenting, my first go-to was…

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God Is on Your Side

By Rick Warren

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

No matter what you face this week, you don’t have to face it alone.

God is with you, working powerfully in your life. The word “working” in Greek is the word energeo, from which we get the word “energy.” God is the energy driver in your life. You don’t have to rely on willpower, and the truth is, willpower isn’t enough.

God’s energy is transforming you from the inside out. This means he gives you the right desires in your heart and mind so that you do the right thing with your actions and words. This is the life he created you to live.

God is also for you. God is your ally. In fact, he is committed to your success. Some people think God is like an angry parent who is mad at them all the time. That couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s not mad at you, he’s mad about you.

Since God is for us, there is no challenge we can’t overcome….

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By Teri

It was my first day back to work after spending 26 days at my husband’s hospital bedside. The doctor’s prognosis? He would likely never walk again. My only comfort was that the three walls of my cubicle allowed me to hide my tears. My husband was the responsible one in our marriage, always filling my car with gas when I left it on empty and tying up loose ends I’d left undone. How would I pick up the slack and provide him emotional support when I was such a wreck? A co-worker shared I Peter 5:7, “Cast your cares upon Him for He cares for you.” I protested, “God, I did cast my cares upon you, and nothing has changed!” As the tears continued, I found myself lost in a memory…

On the shore of my favorite fishing pond, I cast my line with intention. I did this as many times as necessary to get my baited hook on target. Though the surface waters were as glass, it was only a matter of time before the unseen currents below pulled my line from where I had cast, and so, I cast…

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