Can A Pastor Minister with a Wounded and Broken Past?


I will be the first to admit that I’m not a huge fan of television evangelists. I’ve been known to share my personal opinion time and again. But, regardless of my personal feelings of high profile ministers, I do believe many of them have nuggets of spiritual wisdom, much of which they’ve personally experienced, to share with the rest of us.

Such is the case with this passage from Joyce Meyer’s book, New Day, New You. Take a moment and hear what she has to say about getting healing from our past:

Is it wrong to have a wounded heart? No, a wounded heart is not wrong, but you need to get it healed and go on. In Old Testament days, if a priest had a wound or a bleeding sore, he could not minister. I think today we have a lot of wounded healers. By that I mean that there are a lot of people in the body of Christ today who are trying to minister to other people but who themselves still have unhealed wounds from the past. These people are still bleeding and hurting themselves.

Am I saying that such people cannot minister? No, but I am saying that they need to get healed. Jesus said that the blind cannot lead the blind; because if they do, they will both fall into a ditch. There is a message in that statement. What is the use of my trying to minister victory to others if I have no victory in my own life? How can I minister emotional healing to others if I still have unresolved emotional problems from my past?

In order to minister properly, we need to go to God and let Him heal us first. I think we need to wake up and realize that God is not looking for wounded healers. He wants people with wounds that He can heal who will then go and bring healing to others. God loves to use people who have been hurt and wounded because nobody can minister to someone else better than one who has had the same problem or been in the same situation as that person.

I am not saying that we have to have everybody’s problem in order to minister to them. My point is that if we are still bleeding and hurting from our own wounds, we are not going to be able to come against other people’s problems with the same kind of aggressive faith we would have if we had already worked through that problem ourselves.

The bottom line is that we need to let God heal us so He can use us to bring healing to other people.

How have you mended a wounded heart?

POSTED ON March 19, 2014
  • Jbrent

    So what if you haven’t found the healing yet? 3 years, 3 months, and I still find myself confused, frustrated, and unproductive. I’ve had counsel, prayer, reading, journaling–but I still feel like I failed, after over 2 decades in ministry in the same church.

    • Thanks for the comment. It took many years personally to overcome burnout and frustration and to finally get healing from my hurt as a pastor. I’m not sure there is a particular timeline or a certain strategy that works or doesn’t.

      I would suggest though, simply by your “I still feel like I failed” comment, that you may need to do some personal forgiving. Believe me, I’m the last guy that’ll tell you to “build a bridge and get over it” but I do believe that in order for us to move on and heal, forgiving oneself is crucial. Hopefully that’s a good next step for you.

      • Jbrent

        Thank you for the grace-filled reply. I am SO ready to be healed! I appreciate your posts.

    • Timothy Hegedus

      There are two ways of interpreting the Gospel. One is the way that Meyer describes: you have to get over your sin/hurt before you can minister to others. The other is the way that Martin Luther described: Christians are saint and sinner at the same time. It’s basically a difference in interpreting the Good News, especially as described by Paul in Galatians and Romans.
      What Luther’s interpretation of the Gospel means is that even though I am still wounded, I am a healer by God’s grace. Ministry is only done because of God’s grace, it’s never because of how good/healed/unsinful we are. Unlike what Meyer says, in fact the only kind of people God uses are “wounded healers”. This is also what Henri Nouwen meant in his book “The Wounded Healer”, which is where this term originated.
      I think that Luther’s (and Nouwen’s) interpretation is much more honest to Christian experience. In this life, we never get to perfection! In this life, we are always dependent on grace. And so I take my stand with Luther and Nouwen, and I disagree with Meyer. In fact, I think that Meyer’s view is contrary to the Gospel.

      • Jbrent

        Thank you sir! Nouwen has impacted me so many times and so many ways I appreciate any reference to his writings. I allowed myself to be beaten up–by me as well as by some others. I need forgiveness and some self-dignity and the ability to live into who God created me to be–not who someone else wanted me to be. I apologize for cryptic code. Writing it helps me see it differently. Blessings to you.

  • Jim King

    The Lord has healed me from many spiritual wounds which helps me be a witness of His Love and power for others to receive the same. It took time and I didn’t quit ministering while step by step He set me free, partially because as He worked through me in the lives of others it was instrumental in continuing to be set free from more. He had to set me from guilt over killing many people in Viet Nam before He set me from PTSD. As I came into relationship with Christ He told me to be led by His Spirit which quickly led me into a prison. What He taught me in being led and empowered by Him is that being willing to be led was most important and that waiting until I was totally healed would be like waiting until I could make myself sinless to seek Him. As long as we are on the planet transformation will continue if we are willing to be led.

  • Jered Odegard

    A wounded heart needs to be renewed but I believe that we can heal others without being “healed.”

    God’s healing is awesome and a beautiful thing, but sometimes our pain doesn’t go away.
    To me what speaks much louder are those who are confident, joyful, and content in the thick of pain. That takes a lot of faith. I get it. Sometimes it seems faith in a God who’s bigger than here and now is what is lacking.

    An effective minister to me is one more concerned about the eternal healer than the wound.

    • I like your thoughts, Jered. Thanks for the comment.

Bo Lane is the founder of ExPastors, a community that strives to offer help, healing, and hope for expastors, pastors, and church leaders, and author of Why Pastors Quit. As a media professional with more than 15 years of experience, he has developed marketing and brand strategies that have revolutionized churches and businesses, both large and small. Bo left full-time ministry after serving more than a decade in churches in Oregon, California, and Iowa. He is also a writer, filmmaker, woodworker, husband and father.