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.
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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.
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.
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.