There are a lot of wounded Christians in the world!
Many suffer wounds from self inflicted poor choices!
Others suffer from wounds inflicted by insecure leaders!
Still others suffer from wounds from immature believers, or unbelievers!
There are Christians who have been, or continue to be wounded [persecuted] for their faith in Christ Jesus!
And then there are the ones who have been wounded by God and Godly leaders!
Please do not misunderstand my intentions. I am not writing to cast fault on or castigate anyone. I am a person, a Godly leader, who has wounded people and has been wounded by people.
Some of the wounds I have inflicted were out of my stupidity and immaturity. Other wounds have been spot on out of the word, will and ways of God.
When Godly leaders wound out of stupidity or immaturity we should quickly bring healing and restoration, or at least attempt to bring them to those we have wounded. Unfortunately, many of the wounded refuse to be restored because their wounds provide cover for their insecurities, irresponsibilities and inabilities. It is much easier to blame the leader who wounded them than to work through the issues that caused the wounds.
In this blog I want to address when Godly leaders representing God, wound people, and the proper way for the wounded to handle it in a Godly manner.
This verse lets us know there are times when God will wound us for the purpose of healing us in places and ways we otherwise would have never experienced.
It may be difficult to face the truth that God actually has our best interests in His heart when He wounds us, but that is the truth!
This is not to say that God will not heal a person who suffers from self-inflicted wounds, or from wounds that fall into any of the categories mentioned above. God is really good at intervening when we “deserve” it or not.
Volumes have been written and still are being written about all of the various ways Christians have been wounded. In this blog I want to address the last group, the ones that God and Godly leaders wound.
How we respond will determine the depth of healing we will experience and the length of time our healing will last.
When God speaks directly to us or indirectly though Godly leaders, those words can pierce us to the deepest parts of our being. Even “dividing soul from spirit” which is really a remarkable and necessary thing.
His word[s] “expose and sift and analyze and judge the very thoughts and purposes of the [our] heart.” God digs real deep in order to get to the real problem. Many times the real problem lies in the lies we believe. Our thoughts [dwelling on the lies] affect our purpose in life. When our heart is filled with purposes that are not Godly then God will send Godly leaders on purpose who can and will expose, sift, analyze and judge what we have allowed in our heart.
Jesus Himself said the following that we should pay careful attention to as it pertains to what we are dealing with in this blog.
“The words that I speak to you are spirit, they are life.” [John 6:63 NKJ]
The words of Jesus, which are the Word of God and the sword of the Spirit, are spirit and release life even when what He says to us hurts like crazy!
The context of His statement is Jesus was confronting the mindsets of the religiously minded, including those of His disciples. When He made this statement He had expanded the number of disciples from 12 to 82 or 84 depending on which historical information you choose to believe.
You can find all of this in John 6. Because of what Jesus was saying [teaching, releasing] the Jewish religious leaders were offended and many of His disciples walked away from Him. Turning to the 12 He said, “Do you want to go away also?”
The reason all of this happened was because they said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” [Verse 60]
The difficult statement was about eating His flesh and drinking His blood!
The word ‘difficult’ according to Thayer’s Dictionary of New Testament Words means: hard, harsh, violent, rough, intolerant, offensive. The root word means: From the hip to the toes.
In other words, Jesus’ words were strategically placed to affect their walk and what they produced. Toes help to bring balance and traction when we walk or run. The hip region involves the reproductive region. Jesus was dealing with their inability to function when their feelings got hurt. He does not want or need disciples who whine and complain when they hear things that wound them.
Look at what happened on the Day of Pentecost in the first century –
“36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ 38 Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’ 40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’ 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” [Acts 2 NKJ]
Peter said some things that were very hard for the Jewish people to hear.
There are those today that cannot face the force of these words Peter spoke.
“Therefore let ALL THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom YOU crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
There are many even today in the Christian Zionist and Messianic Jewish movements that refuse to hear these sharp words. People want to placate the Jews and eliminate the full responsibility of every Jewish person because in their mind only a few Jews were responsible for the murder of Jesus.
God and Peter had a different position than the Christian Zionists and Messianic Jews of today. The Jews of Peter’s day even had a different opinion because his words pierced through the religious rhetoric they had lived with their entire lives.
God’s words spoken out of Peter’s mouth ‘cut to the [their] heart’ to the point that they asked Peter and the rest of those standing there, ‘What shall we do?’ The word ‘cut’ or ‘pierce’ is the Greek word katanýssō [kat-an-oos’-so] and it means to pain the mind sharply; to agitate violently. Part of the root word means to pierce with severe and even deadly wounds. Ouch!
Peter was not concerned about the emotional well being of those Jews in Jerusalem that day. He was more concerned with their eternal well being.
God’s word like a sword cut them deeply and thoroughly and resulted in a response that led to the redemption of those who ‘gladly received his word.’ In other words, Peter’s words produced death and life all at the same time. Come on somebody!
What happened to those who did not gladly receive his sharp word? We don’t know but what we do know is they did not get right with God right then. Hopefully they had other opportunities that they took full advantage of later, and before it was too late for them.
Today, it is rare indeed for church leaders to be so bold when addressing the people assembled to hear them.
I firmly believe that too many Christians are emotionally driven to the point that there has been an effeminization of the church. Feel good Christianity is ruining Biblical Christianity.
Where are the real warriors who can take a blow and not blow up?
Where are the manly men who when wounded don’t run for cover and cower in their hurt feelings?
Where are the David’s who stand in the service of the Saul’s they are assigned to serve even after multiple attempts to take their lives?
Where are the John the Baptist’s who understand their role and don’t get wounded by not being the main attraction?
Where are the Paul’s who when misunderstood and maligned stay faithful to their assignment?
Where are the wounded warriors who in their pain plan for promotion by helping alleviate the pain others are experiencing?
The healing that can come from the kind of wounds God inflicts will elevate us into new places and possibilities in God. Failure to be healed can lead us to more places of pain where we may never be healed.
I remember standing in a line behind a leader that I have the utmost respect for to get a meal in the house of another leader that I have the utmost respect for. The conversation moved to our children and grandchildren. I made the “mistake” of saying what so many people say, “I wished I would have had my grandchildren first.” The leader I was standing behind said, “Well, I actually enjoyed raising my children.”
I was handed an opportunity to not only hold on to an offence, but to also impale myself on that fence [play on words], if I had allowed the offense to take hold. I was wounded because I was not implying I did not enjoy my 3 children when they were younger. Because I did not take offense, the wound carried on it enabled me to see more clearly that I was not communicating my heart very well by quoting that oft quoted statement.
Why would a loving God, and loving Godly leaders, wound another Christian?
This blog will not come close to fully answering this question but I do want to address a very real problem that exists in most church communities. And that problem is: Christians who function out of their soul, and primarily their emotions, not their spirit.
Our human spirit is the place where God, who is Spirit, resides after we surrender to His Lordship in our lives. This is called in Scripture being born again, the new birth, a new creation and other monikers.
Our soul is comprised of our mind [intellect, memories, imagination, etc], our will [decision making] and our emotions [feelings].
All three of these components of our soul are vitally important to us as believers but they are never to be the leading areas of how we relate to God or other people, especially the Godly leaders that God gives us to help us mature in Him.
One problem arises when God, or one of His Godly leaders says something to us we do not want to hear. When we do not agree with what we are being told we can become defensive and from that defensive position begin building a case against the one causing us the discomfort.
When God or one of His Godly leaders say things that adversely affect our emotions, or give us instructions we do not like or agree with we are faced with a dilemma. If we do not feel like doing it, or we do not feel like it is correct, or we do not feel it is God, when God or one of His Godly leaders confront us, we can get wounded.
This is especially true when we are confronted in a way that is “not how we would have done it.” People think that if someone rebukes them they have been abused. I am not sure what they think ‘rebuke’ looks like but just the sound of it does not sound like it is fun.
Paul said, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” [2 Timothy 4:2 NAS]
Rebuke here means to censure severely, to admonish or charge sharply.
Rebuke hurts our feelings!
Rebuke also means to raise the value of, to honor. It is actually an honor to be rebuked because the goal is the establishment of the correct value of the person rebuked. It raises their value in their own eyes. Usually a person who sees great value in a person rebukes them to shake them up in hopes they will see what the person rebuking them has seen in them.
Hurt feelings really becomes magnified when neither God, nor His Godly leaders cave to the emotional response and rejection of what they have asked, or required the person to do.
“But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.” Mark 10:22 NAS
When you read the entire context of the interaction between Jesus and the person who approached Him you discover that Jesus did not chase the person down to renegotiate the terms of following Him. What Jesus said hurt the person’s feelings. We know this because the text says ‘he was saddened’ and that he ‘went away grieving.’
When we respond out of our feelings instead of our spirit, we reject what God or Godly leaders have proposed or reveal to us is the will of God for our lives, because we don’t “feel” it.
This person had ‘much property’ and those possessions possessed him! Jesus will go after everything we possess to make sure we are totally committed to being possessed by only Him. And if our feelings get hurt oh well!
Another problem that arises when we are led by our feelings instead of our spirit is we lose sight of the heart of God and the heart of Godly leaders.
Our feelings can fool us and when that happens we look really foolish!
Our feelings make us feel like God or the Godly leader really does not have our best interests at heart. This feeling creates suspicion and then our mind [memory] kicks in to “remember” how we have been wounded in the past. Our imagination takes over to create scenarios that confirm our suspicions.
All of this of course is a virtual reality that has little or no basis in truth!
I have been guilty of doing this, as well as being the recipient of wounds from others who have totally created in their minds a reality that is not real.
This is a very dangerous way to operate in life, especially in the life of the community of believers that God has planted [set] us in. The enemy is more than happy to seize on our suspicions in order to separate us from the very people God has chosen to help develop godly character in us.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful.”
Proverbs 27:6 Amplified Bible
Contrary to the theology of many Christians, God, as a friend, will wound us. God and Godly leaders will do and say things that wound us. In the same way enemies [those pretending to be friends] will publicly “kiss” us while privately undermining us and our authority in their life or the lives of others we are leading.
Judas was valued beyond what he had proven he was worthy to be valued. Judas was a thief and a betrayer and Jesus knew it from the beginning. Jesus knowing these things about Judas did not stop Jesus from befriending and empowering him.
Judas was still in the group of 12 disciples when Jesus made this statement in John 15, “14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
Did you see the requirement for friendship with Jesus? “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” Yikes! Yep! How did that ‘I don’t have to perform for relationship with Jesus’ theology work out for Judas? It won’t work out any better for us either!
Jesus called His disciples His friends but to be His friends they had to do what He commanded.
Kingdom leaders extend honor, trust and influence to people who have not earned it. And because of that kind of leadership they open themselves up to betrayal at the hands of those who will not grow up and out of their selfish lifestyle.
Kingdom leaders also have certain expectations of how they will be treated [valued] by those they befriend.
Behaving in this way gives place for a Judas to show up and show out but it also creates a culture where world changers can emerge as well.
Trust me – and I hope you will – there are a lot of leaders who are wounded by those they lead and many do not get the same love as those who have been wounded by a leader. There is a “well they are leaders so they can handle it” attitude in the church. Or worse, “they are a leader who probably deserves the pain they are going through.”
I am not apologizing for any leader who through their own selfishness, immaturity or irresponsibility has wounded anyone, including myself.
When we as leaders wound people out of our own stupidity and immaturity we need to do all we can to bring healing to that person or the people we have wounded. I said that earlier!
I work with both leaders and followers of leaders who have been wounded!
Kingdom leaders for the most part do handle their wounds, and they typically don’t respond in kind or run away from their assignment. A real Kingdom leader learns very early on to run to the cross and release their wounds on the One who was wounded for all of our transgressions.
Many times those who wound leaders run away at the first “wound” they receive from the leader without attempting to understand why they got wounded.
“Am I wounded because I am too sensitive or am I wounded because I just got hit with a sledgehammer [metaphorically] undeservedly?” Regardless of the reason we are wounded our first response should be – “How should I respond to my wound and the person who wounded me?” And, “Why was I wounded?”
“Iron is made sharp with iron,and one man is made sharp by a friend.”Proverbs 27:17 New Life Bible
I like to describe this verse to people as – “God and Godly leaders [people] will rub you the right way.” This rubbing is intended to sharpen us and make us more brilliant [spectacular], so that we will be more effective in our kingdom assignment.
I understand that leaders are held to a higher standard and I agree we should. But that does not mean that a leader who gets trampled by those who are living out of their emotions should not be loved through the wounds they receive.
I also understand why most kingdom leaders have very few friends, and especially friends from the folks they lead. People struggle separating friendship from leadership. Both ships carry people but they may carry those people in different directions.
Leaders will invariably have to make decisions for the good of all on their ship that will not sit well with certain individuals [friends] who will not handle it well.
I am very open with the people I lead, especially those who want to “join” us as members of our church family. I say often, “I am not called to make friends. I am called to make disciples to Jesus Christ. If we happen to be friends in the process great.”
Unfortunately many people never accept this and have gotten their feelings hurt when decisions are made, or confrontations occur, that they do not agree with.
“I thought we were friends!” “I did too” is usually my response.
I don’t know how many times I have been forced to say, “If this is your response to what I have said, or done, then what does that say about our relationship?”
The word relationship is made up of 4 words. They are:
- Relation – Connection that has accountability with behavior
- Ship – A large vessel that carries people or cargo from one place to another. Ships travel in one direction at one speed. The people or cargo on the ship may be on different levels but they still travel together.
- Relations – Connections that have accountability with behavior
- Hip – At the side or face to face depending on the level of intimacy
Or, “Help me understand why you are reacting like this?”
Again, I remind you that I am not casting blame or castigating those who are not blameless.
Misunderstanding God and His motives and the motives of His Godly leaders lead God’s people to places and other people who will “kiss” [publicly affirm] them but who can never truly lead them to where God has called them.
Developing the ability to forgive those who wound us is critical to the maturation process. That forgiveness must be given to God as well and to His Godly leaders.
As a kingdom leader who has spent many hours with wounded people I have found that when genuine forgiveness is granted, it gives the wounded person a brand new perspective on the person or people who have wounded them.
I know from personal experience that many wounds come from expectations we place on leaders that they are not responsible for.
For instance, Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth saying, “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you [I am your spiritual father] through the gospel.” [1 Corinthians 4:15 NKJ]
When we are wanting to relate to a leader who God has given to us as a father, when they are just our teacher, our feelings can get hurt – badly hurt.
The expectation of fathering from someone God has not given to us as a father creates a sense of abandonment. This feeling creates all kinds of rejection issues that if not dealt with will cause us great harm spiritually, emotionally and in some cases physically.
This is especially true as it pertains to people who have been abandoned by someone they valued.
All fathers teach but not every teacher is a father!
Fathers are more interested in who they teach!
Teacher’s are more interested in what they teach!
Father’s want their children to surpass them in life!
Teacher’s need their children to remain below them so they will have someone to teach!
When a father speaks in a way that wounds us and we do not respond well then we have eliminated the possibility for our maturation process to reach the fatherhood level of maturity.
When we reject the wounding of our father we retard our growth!
“5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” [Hebrews 12 NAS]
The writer of Hebrews makes it abundantly clear that God chastens [mentioned 5x], rebukes, and scourges His sons. None of that sounds or feels fun! By the way, some of the Gospel writers use this same Greek word for scourge to describe the scourging Jesus endured. I know!
To those who endure these dealings of the Lord move on in maturity. To those who reject these dealings become illegitimate.
A case in point of properly processing being wounded can be found when Paul, as the father of the Christian community in Corinth, dealt severely with the community, community leaders, and individual Christian who was sinning in their midst [1 Corinthians 5].
“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles–that a man has his father’s wife!” [Verse 1]
- This was grievious even to the unsaved mind!
“And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.” [Verse 2]
- Paul challenges the community’s unwillingness to keep corruption out of their midst. He calls them “puffed up” meaning in his mind they had exalted themselves above the God they served through their self inflated opinion of themselves.
”3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” [Verse 3-5]
- This sounds severe doesn’t it? Paul, the daddy, made a judicial decision even though he was not physically present. He was present “in spirit” which means his connection to them was not based on an emotional connection but was rooted and grounded in the spirit, by the Holy Spirit. Paul goes on to say what his judicial decision was. “Deliver such a one [the one sinning] to satan for the destruction of his flesh.” In essence what Paul was saying is this – “This member of the church will not repent and stop living for the devil so I am releasing him to the devil. I am removing my fatherly covering because he refuses to change his direction.” How did Paul know this since he was not present to “counsel” the person? By his spirit! Paul’s goal in this judicial decision was the salvation of the person’s spirit.
“6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened.” [Verse 6,7]
- Here again Paul is addressing the attitude of the community of believers. Apparently they were proud of the way they were “loving” this person who refused to repent. Paul commands them to clean house or have the house corrupted by the sinful behavior.
“I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people.” [Verse 9]
- This is in reference to an unknown letter Paul had written to them. Paul says, “Do not keep company with sexually immoral people.” This is in reference to his previous statement to purge the ungodly person with the ungodly lifestyle from their community.
“But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner–not even to eat with such a person.” [Verse 11]
- Paul reiterates his insistence that the church keep the community pure. If a “brother” is a real brother he will not live a lifestyle that is contrary to family life.
“Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” [Verse 13]
This is rather direct is it not? This is not ‘Let’s not offend anyone’ is it?
Let us take a look at the end result of Paul’s wounding words!
He said in 2 Corinthians 7, “2 Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one.”
- This is a bold statement revealing the need of the people he wounded to expose themselves to him in such a way that they are not restricted in their affections. Paul said that he nor anyone on his apostolic team had wronged or corrupted anyone. He also said that they had not cheated anyone either. I wonder how many Christians are cheated by leaders who are afraid to speak in a way that wounds the wayward?
“3 I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.”
- This is the language of a father as he relates his heart for the people he is responsible for. Wounding is not for the purpose of condemning. Quite the contrary. Wounding is for restoration!
- Real kingdom fathers are not afraid of hurting the feelings of the people they are assigned to be a father to. They temper their boldness with comfort and overflowing joy as they face and deal with the pressures associated with family life. They do not couch their words with compromise.
“8 For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while.”
- Once again this father in the faith communicates that his fatherly discipline wounded his spiritual children and how he did not regret it because the wound was short lived.
“9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.”
- Ah, the intent of the wounding is made known. Obviously the context here is the allowance of a gross sin to remain in the Christian community in Corinth. The principle of wounding can be applied to many instances. The results vary on how those who are wounded handle the pain and the process the pain is associated with.
“10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
- The Corinthian believers, once they got over the fact that Paul wounded them, responded correctly which resulted in salvation [forgiveness, deliverance and restoration to God and His community]. Paul delineates between the proper response [repentance] and an improper response [death].
“11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”
- Here is how everyone knew they responded correctly, and how we know that we have responded correctly, when a Godly leader wounds us.
- The people responsible responded by:
- Becoming more committed to the well being of the community
- Clearing themselves – meaning they fixed the problem instead of hiding it or pretending there was not one
- Being incensed at their previous pathetic behavior
- Restoring their reverence [respect] for God and His community
- Restoring their zeal for God, the people of God and the things of God was on display
- Clearing themselves by virtue of their correct response
- The people responsible responded by:
“12 Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.”
- Look at what Paul just said [wrote]. I did not introduce the wound into the community for the people involved in the problem. I did it so that you would know just how much we care for you, and how much God was watching what we did to you, and for our honor for God and His community of holy people that will be positively affected by how we dealt with you.
Paul, as the spiritual father hurt some feelings, and he intended to do it to get a Godly response which would lead to a Godly result.
Now that is why God and Godly leaders wound you!
I hope you can accept it!
I hope you will respond positively to it!
I also hope you will repent if you have not and return to your ‘father’ and yield to the chastening process so you will be a true son in the faith.
Keep HIS Faith! Keep HIS Passion!