In a short little publication, Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer discusses how a community should not be taken for granted. You see, Bonhoeffer wrote Life Together while engaged in an underground seminary in Nazi Germany.
One of Bonheoffer’s main points is that a community is not something we create. “It is a gift of God we cannot claim…Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.”
Later, Bonhoeffer says that “…he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end, there is nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words.”
In a sense, what Bonhoeffer is saying is that communities are a God-given hospital where sinners can be healed, and not a museum for saints to display their self-righteousness.
We all have our wounds. The topic of dealing and handling our pain and hurt is not an easy one. I have attempted to address it a bit in part 1 (read it here) of this article. Men are wounded and in need of God and each other. A wounded leader will find healing in the empathy of His Saviour expressed in the community he serves. He becomes a wounded healer when is is able to comfort those with the comfort he received from Christ.
In part 1, we concluded that our healed wounds are the starting point of leading people and not a distraction or a hindrance to its ministry.
There is another side to the same coin. Many leaders will still attempt to lead out of their unhealed, untreated woundedness. Untreated wounds may lead to entitlement, isolation, loneliness and ultimately disqualification. The question is: Is there any hope? How do we reconcile a fallen leader with the ever-reaching, extravagant love and grace of God?
King David would have been disqualified as an adulterer and murderer. However, a good friend and man of God challenged him. Until that point, David had been anointed king, persecuted unjustly, established his kingdom, married a couple of wives, had kids, and endured a great deal of pain and hurt in the process. While he was indulging his children and let his generals run his wars, David became entitled, committed adultery with Bathsheba, and killed her husband to hide his sin.
When confronted by the prophet Nathan about his sin, David had a sincere moment of clarity and recognized that he had offended God. (2 Sam 12; Ps 51). David was broken, his mask fell off, and God forgave him instead of killing him.
Knowing who we have sinned against first and foremost is a significant step for a leader. Every leader must understand his position is given by God to lead and look after the people who belong to God. Hence, leading is a high calling.
For those who have never paid attention to their wounds and have fallen, there is hope. If you have sinned, you must be broken. Being broken means being humble enough to take the mask down before God and others. Brokenness leads to restoration.
According to Psalm 51, “A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” David experienced restoration. In brokenness, there is no longer shame for what I have done. My sin has been exposed and dealt with by God in the light and with brothers. You see, leaders will always need a community. A healthy leadership implies community, whether you are wounded or broken. A community is an assurance for the broken; one will always find mercy and grace when his community leads him to the cross to be comforted and to comfort others.
The reality of our wounds and how Christ offers to heal us all is how leaders will be sensitive enough to walk with others, welcoming and embracing the broken, and loving and caring for the wounded.
A lot of times in ministry we are inexperienced, unprepared, naive, blind, or even insensitive to be able to distinguish between the broken and the wounded.
As a result, we end up painting everyone with the same broad stroke, knowing less what goes through the depths of a human soul. All of us are wounded. Some of us just haven’t realized it yet; and for others, it may be too late already. The question is: Does anybody care? Does anybody hear?
Leaders – let us answer this question with an emphatic “yes and amen”, and show by example that we care because our Lord and King Jesus cares.