PASTORS, I would argue, are wounded healers: in the business of healing persons in their midst; though they’re, themselves, somewhat and in some ways very wounded in nature.
The Latin word cura means “care,” but it can be shown to indicate “cure.” According to Eugene Peterson in The Contemplative Pastor, the care of souls is “Scripture-directed and prayer-shaped” — a determination to work at the prime of a person; “to concentrate on the essential.”
Concentrating on the essential is working hard on getting to the core; to strip away allegiances to the superficial; to compel focus and attention toward what is most shimmeringly truthful.
That’s the pastor’s job; to get beyond the task-nature of the relational task, to get away from the transactional ‘tick list’ mentality, and hone in on the person — their wounded soul to care — to teach and instil self-care.
The pastor, themselves, is to be an exemplar of that which he or she is called to do in others — to facilitate such self-care (self-cure) through integrity of personal cooperation (their flesh in subjugation with the Spirit) and Spiritual obedience. This is not perfection, but it is maintenance; a level of competence to augment health. That done, in a continual sense, there’s freedom to care for (and cure) souls.
Passing the baton is something every pastor wants to do. There are those that came before them; those that healed their very wounds. The pastor stands on not-so-rickety shoulders. And the pastor wants others to serve God with passion, and indeed to answer their own calling: to pastor. But pastoring is not just about who came behind and who goes ahead. It’s centrally about healing; about speaking the gospel of God’s gracious power into people’s lives.
They sense their opportunity, and it’s not limited to the church; it’s a Kingdom role. This means that the whole of life is a series of opportunities for healing to be done, and not one moment is without that beautiful and devoted purpose — we can see why pastoring is a ‘called’ life; few would want to surrender 24/7.
Here is a poem that helps:
What a mighty chance there is in the Spirit realm today,
To give witness to Christ’s work in one person’s soul,
To listen and hear and affirm them toward their goal,
As servants of God, to serve Him, each and every day.
Such ministry to souls is the compassionate care of hearts,
To affirm and encourage them in ways they can learn,
For then there’s the opportunity for them to discern,
Just how others may be healed in other ministry parts.
Anyone who calls themselves ‘pastor’ has committed to the care (and cure) of souls, not least because they bear personal witness to the Spirit’s work done in themselves to that end.
The pastor is a wounded healer; they understand the need in all for healing, yet they accept we’re all wounded.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.