The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society

by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Paperback, 1979

Status

Available

Description

A hope-filled and profoundly simple book that speaks directly to those who want to be of service in their church or community, but have found the traditional ways often threatening and ineffective. In this book, Henri Nouwen combines creative case studies of ministry with stories from diverse cultures and religious traditions in preparing a new model for ministry. Weaving keen cultural analysis with his psychological and religious insights, Nouwen has come up with a balanced and creative theology of service that begins with the realization of fundamental woundedness in human nature. Emphasizing that which is in humanity common to both minister and believer, this woundedness can serve as a source of strength and healing when counseling others. Nouwen proceeds to develop his approach to ministry with an analysis of sufferings--a suffering world, a suffering generation, a suffering person, and a suffering minister. It is his contention that ministers are called to recognize the sufferings of their time in their own hearts and make that recognition the starting point of their service. For Nouwen, ministers must be willing to go beyond their professional role and leave themselves open as fellow human beings with the same wounds and suffering--in the image of Christ. In other words, we heal from our own wounds. Filled with examples from everyday experience, The Wounded Healer is a thoughtful and insightful guide that will be welcomed by anyone engaged in the service of others.… (more)

Publication

Image (1979), Edition: 1st, 100 pages

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Rating

½ (172 ratings; 4)

User reviews

LibraryThing member peacemover
This powerfully written, yet simple book changed my life! In "The Wounded Healer," Nouwen addresses one of the main challenges of the human condition- our weaknesses. These wounds, as Nouwen refers to them, are so often viewed as sources of shame and guilt for us. He reminds us all, however, that
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these wounds, can be transformed into strengths, if we will allow them to be.

By accepting that we are human and addressing our human weaknesses, we can then turn them into helpful resources to extend the gift of emotional healing to others. Because, in order to reach people, we need a point of connection. We can all relate to experiences of emotional woundedness, and within appropriate relational boundaries, they can become instruments of healing.

Nouwen shares several stories, and conversations that he had with persons going through various experiences of emotional woundedness. One of the most poignant of these was a visit he made to a man who was about to go in for surgery to have a leg amputated. By offering himself as a compassionate listener, he was able to help the man find peace in the midst of a devastating loss.

A point of clarification that Nouwen makes well is that becoming a wounded healer does not mean that we dump all of our problems on people, or seek to wear them like badges. Instead, by being aware of our woundedness, and facing it, we can become more sensitized to the needs of the people around us- after all we are all subject to human imperfection.

If you are ready to find hope and a renewed perspective on helping others- read this book! I would highly recommend "The Wounded Healer" to all persons in caring professions, as well as anyone who just want to find peace in the midst of human challenges.
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LibraryThing member LTW
Nouwen has come up with a balanced and creative theology of service that begins with the realization of fundamental woundedness in human nature. Emphasizing that which is in humanity common to both minister and believer, this woundedness can serve as a source of strength and healing when counseling
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others. Nouwen proceeds to develop his approach to ministry with an analysis of sufferings -- a suffering world, a suffering generation, a suffering person, and a suffering minister. It is his contention that ministers are called to recognize the sufferings of their time in their own hearts and make that recognition the starting point of their service. For Nouwen, ministers must be willing to go beyond their professional role and leave themselves open as fellow human beings with the same wounds and suffering -- in the image of Christ. In other words, we heal from our own wounds. Filled with examples from everyday experience, The Wounded Healer is a thoughtful and insightful guide that will be welcomed by anyone engaged in the service of others.
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LibraryThing member tcarter
In this analysis of Christian pastoral care Nouwen takes a look at ministry in the modern context from four different perspectives. He begins with the dislocations of modern people in the nuclear age. Some of this analysis feels a little dated as some of the developments of post-modernism are
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missing, but in general it is insightful. He moves on to the feeling of rootlessness in the current generations. Here he finds an inward looking, fatherless, convulsive people. Focussing in closer, we find the individual, lacking hope in both life and death. Having described the situation in the world from the first three perspectives, the final one looks upon the person who can minister authentically into this situation. Neuwen argues that it is only the person who lives from the reality of woundedness and loneliness who can credibly reach those who are wounded and lonely.

Obviously coming from a deep and prayerful pastoral heart, this is compelling stuff. I'm not sure that it is balanced in the reality of the healing power of God, and parts of it seem to me to make a virtue of woundedness, in a way with which I am not completely comfortable.
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LibraryThing member Squid
My favourite book of Nouwen's I have read to date. I can't believe he wrote this before 1972. Much of it reads as though it was written within the last 10 years. He is extremely insightful on his description of what the future "leader" needs to look like. I found myself saying "Yes! Yes! Yes!" Not
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only that but I was surprised as I continued to reflect on the implications fo his view on the future leader. It dawned on me that much of what he was saying was a description of how I would explain or define myself as a leader. Scary! Nouwen has inspired me to embrace the model of "leader" that he describes and embrace the ways that I fulfill this description. He has inspired me... actually more accurately he has compelled me to write (see page 37). And so I must write...
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LibraryThing member Bob1438
Thoughtful and insightful.
LibraryThing member NGood
At the very beginning I completely disagreed with the ideas that Nouwen presented in this book. It seemed that everything that he said was distorted. Looking back on it now, I think that he did a very good job of describing the human condition, but I think that the theories he presents as to how
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humanity got there are a little off. But, after I got past his theories concerning the “nuclear man” and about the ways in which man searches for immortality I started to actually agree with what he was saying. I believe that he was right on in describing the characteristics of “the coming generation” as being inwardness, fatherlessness, and convulsiveness. Even though he was writing this concerning the previous generation I see these things as being very common in people my own age and I think that he has some very practical ways of dealing with these things.
I completely agree with him when he says, “The Christian leader must be in the future what he has always had to be in the past: a man of prayer, a man who has to pray, and who has to pray always.” At some times I felt that he was presenting ideas that were completely alienated from God. It seemed that he was more concerned with looking into man and like he thought that all the answers could be found in our own souls, but somehow in the end he always brought the focus around to God or Christ. I think that this makes his ideas very practical. They aren't unrealistic seminary answers, they are answers that he has come up with through trial and error, and also prayer and reading of the Bible.
Then in the last chapter he talks about how in order to properly minister to others one has to first recognize his own faults, weaknesses, and wounds. I think that this is very important. It is impossible to minister to others when you have undealt with problems in your own life. But it isn't that you have to get rid of your problems and then you help others, you must recognize your problems, and then as you help others you yourself will be healed.
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LibraryThing member homeschoolmimzi
I've read only two of Nouwen's books so far, and just from those I can say his books warrant a 2nd and maybe a 3rd reading. His insights are rich, dense, and provoke a lot of contemplation. This is most definitely not a book to peruse through, but something to meditate on. I love the title- it
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perfectly describes the subject of this marvelous short book. People in helping professions develop their compassion and ability to help heal others by being wounded themselves, just as Christ was wounded. Highly recommend this book for pastors, counselors and anyone who wants to help others.
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