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March 9, 2007

Healed to Lead




bandages.jpgAs I sifted through a new stack of mail the other afternoon, a cover blurb on the latest copy of my denomination's magazine, The Banner? caught my eye. While the words Healed to Lead weren't compelling enough to make me turn to the article immediately (sorry, Banner editors!), the words intrigued me as a concept. In the midst of the million little tasks that occupied the rest of that day, I kept thinking, How have I been healed to lead?

I thought about the things from which I'd been healed: all those migraines, that horrible bout with mono in college, the broken nose, and, eck, those episiotomies! I had experienced plenty of ailments or injuries that God had mercifully healed, but had anything made me a better leader?

The article, as it turned out, focused on a recovering alcoholic and abuse survivor whose experiences with pain and God's healing shaped her church-planting ministry. We hear a lot of those stories in Christian circles: the people recovering from the "big sins" or those miraculously healed who go on to start ministries or write books and use their stories to inspire others. Praise God for these people!

But what about those of us whose stories of healing and recovery aren't quite cover copy material. Can we still see instances where God has healed us to lead? I kept thinking deeper about this. Had God used my broken my nose - shattered in a riding accident and healed via the hands of a gifted plastic surgeon - to make me a better leader? Since the surgery left my nose a shave thinner - and, I think, better - if I were appearing on a sentimental plastic surgery/makeover TV show, perhaps I could make myself cry and talk about how my new thinner nose gave me a confidence boost in my appearance, which helped me lead. But that would be bull and completely sad (as it is when women profess their new big boobs give them confidence!). Not to mention, this is totally out of God's character.

The reality is that the healing that had taken place had less to do with reshaping my nose and more to do with reshaping my soul. And when I look closely at other instances of healing - the migraines, the mono, and, I suppose, the episiotomy (though I haven't quite figured this one out yet) - I see his hand at work not only in my body but in my character. As my nose healed, so did my problem with vanity and pride. Once you've walked to your surgeon's office on Chicago's posh Michigan Ave. with a mangled face or made a major presentation with a nose cast on, you realize quickly that the confidence to keep your head up (even as people gawk at you in horror or bewilderment) and do good work comes only from the One who gifted you to do so. True leadership skills never will come from a great outfit or good hair or good boobs. And the best leaders will always acknowledge that we're still broken and in need of a Healer.

So how about you, gifted women: How have you been healed to lead?

Comments

I think that my most recent and maybe the most impactful "healing" occured a few years ago when God saw fit to "remove" a very close friend from my life. While it has taken some time for me to heal from the heartbreak, I finally learned the most valuable lesson of all - that God is sufficient for me. In Him and Him alone can I find comfort, strength & guidance. I'm not sure that without the trial and subsequent healing I would have learned the lesson.

Yes, I am healed. Am I a better leader for it? Absolutely. As leaders we are "alone" more than most because we can only share our innermost struggles with a select few who can understand without being affected by them themselves. As leaders we need to be more dependent on God than ever because Satan has placed a "bulls-eye" on us and is waiting to take us out. My lesson was hard and took some time to heal, but I am definitely better for it...and gladly even more reliant on God than ever before! :)

It is not the healing, but the absence of healing that has most shaped me. I'm still waiting for a significant healing (not physical), one that may never come. The author of Hebrews exhorts believers to look at the great cloud of witnesses--the great leaders who went before us--who rather than being healed were sawn in half and mangled. Left unhealed. In the same breath Jesus reassures the disciples they are worth more than sparrows, he also says they will endure persecution, torture, betrayal, wrongful imprisonment. Their pain would remain--physical and emotional. Yet, it is then that these believers' character rose to the surface--perseverance, tenacious faith. And that is the great leadership we are called to look to for encouragement ourselves. We have a unique opportunity to grow in our capacity as leaders when healing doesn't come. Perhaps more so than if healing were to come to us. I can attest to that.

I can only believe that the places the enemy has wounded us and then subsequently tried to convince us that it was due to our own weakness (a deceiver at every turn) are the very deep places we are most assuredly been called to heal and be healed.

Healing is spiritual, of the soul and spirit, the inner man, as the body wastes away. So many people love and look to my influence and leadership. I have MS and it is progressing. I now have many physical limitations. Others care so much. I remind them, I am growing stronger in God's strength, praising God with hands that extend wiser compassion; legs that do not allow me to walk well but to dance in my heart; rejoice as understanding of the Word of God is poured out on my understanding. God allows me to see others with the eyes of my heart and to let Jesus carry me all the time. As one who has always led others, cared for others, planned, organized, mentored, taught teachers, it is now time to let them teach me by using their spiritual gifts to assist me. Pride is erased in seeing them serve and love others as I have sttempted to love them. Humility and submission to the Master has taught me that my walk and my talk are lining up for the sake of others.
The lessons I am now learning are taught to them by example and new fresh women leaders are rising up to receive the legacy of love I have sought to hand over---the humble, mantle of servant leadership.

I am blessed to see the journeys of those who have endured illness and sufferings and yet have come through the Refiner's fire cleaned from the dross of life and shining out for Him; experiencing those lessons of leadership that can only be learned through trials and adversity, illness and suffererings. I too, have spent the past several years in the fire as I have learned those lessons only taught in the testing of my faith. I am thankful for these, looking back at what God has allowed in my life.I have learned to lead through a humble servant's heart that is much better prepared to minister to others and lead with silent power that only comes through a maturing faith. To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Healed from an abusive upbringing. The healing came when I learned to forgive. I've had to learn to communicate this so that would-be abusers don't think they're "off-the-hook" in God's shadow--that's not for me to decide; nor would I want the victim to misundestand forgiveness in that instance. We're not telling the abuser that God has absolved them. Only that through his mercy, we have stopped mentally executing them or cutting off their offending members--we now sleep through the night because forgiveness brings peace and calms anxiety. Without God's forgiveness, they're still going to face a payday. When I forgive the abuser or anyone, then I'm healed. It feels good and that feeling is an outward sign of God's healthy retooling of my soul. So I've grown as a leader by learning to communicate the steps to healing in a manner that doesn't diminish another person's pain or experience. As a mom who has also faced the shock and awe of sudden loss, I hate it when I hear someone whose "testimony" isn't quite fully formed diminish the pain of others through shallow platitudes. Again, learning to lead is firsthand knowledge of what it really felt like and then communicating that process--yes, including the crapola it took to get there--in an authentic manner. If we mature as a Christian communicator, we'll not lose people because they cannot possibly recognize the Pollyanna path we're proclaiming.
patriciahickman.com

That is a very challenging question for me as I often tell people that God will allow us to go through situations so that down the track we can minister to people that come up against the same struggles.
My husband and I have spent the last couple of years being healed from what some would call spiritual abuse from our previous church. It is amazing the number of people who God has brought to our new church that have been through similar circumstances. The above article has reminded me that I need to make sure my healing is complete so I can minister with grace and mercy to these people rather than with the same 'religious' attitude that I once had myself which no doubt caused hurt to others.

Healing must occur for us to be able to reach out and help others... even if we are just a step or two beyond those we are to lead. I am always challenged by the passage in 2 Corinthians 1 that we experience suffering so we can know how He, God, comforts us... so that we can pass it on.

A year ago I experienced the sudden loss of my only son. Through this experience God's healing power was more evident in my life than all the years I have ministered to others. There were times I was leading and bleeding,but the Lord used this time in my life to show others that we can go through all things with Jesus that strengthens us.
I give the Lord a High Praise for it.
Nancy

My experience is that I have had to see how wounded and in need of healing I am before I know the depth and breadth of God's compassion and faithfulness. Being a leader and competant in some areas has masked a heart that believed that God favoured me because of the gifts I give back to him and my service to others.
This year, through a thousand tiny decisions/indulgences and beliefs about myself, I, as a single woman in a relationship, became pregnant in my 40's. It's messy. My reputation and model of celibacy is lost. However, what was on the inside is now obvious and in the Light. Am learning more about forgiveness and unconditional acceptance through Christ, the counsel of the Holy Spirit and God the Father's relentless pursuit. The real healing for me is getting the idea that He wants me more than my leadership and service - imagine that. Gratitude for his unconditional acceptance of my flawed soul, in need of his continual presence and healing seems to be a much cleaner fuel for leadership and service.

Some great comments and stories here. Thanks for being open. I really appreciate what Karen said about not being healed. It made me think about how unhealed wounds (though perhaps not fresh) can keep us compassionate toward others. I have experienced God's healing, but some wounds seem not to heal completely, and I believe these wounds allow me to feel more compassion toward others--whether in similar situations or not--than I would if I were all scarred up.

"Healed to lead"! Wow! I went through a very devastating experience with church leadership a few years ago that pushed me into an inner healing class at a local ministry. And I can truly say that what the enemy meant for evil (the enemy of my soul and those who intentionally rejected me), God has meant for my good! God took those miserable years of my life and caused it to result in a magnificent revelation of His great love towards me! I "thought" I knew He loved me but all I had was intellectual knowledge of it as a fact. These circumstances propelled me into a search to know experientially His love. And I found it! I found His comfort and His affection to be real! And it healed my broken heart!

During this season, God pealed away the destructive lies that I had hidden in my heart. He gave me compassion towards my parenets and those who had rejected and mistreated me in the past. He taught me how to forgive. I could never have learned these things without the hurtful experience that drove me to seek His face! I can honestly sing now, it is well with my soul!

How has it affected my leadership? I am very aware of my own brokenness and have much more compassion for others who limp too. I recognize the woundedness in others and so I am much quicker to grant grace when I need to. And I am more effective because I know that without the grace of God I could become that hard-hearted religious woman again. My daily prayer is "more of You Lord and a whole lot less of me!"

Yes, God has definitely used healing in my life to make me a more effective leader. He has also used my experiences of pain, loss, unanswered prayer and ongoing struggle. I have been able to identify and sympathize with many. I have been able to extend hope and grace. I have been able to be honest. Our medical doctor, a fellow congregant, has said it this way - you are a 'wounded healer'. While many wounds have been healed, there are others that are still being healed. My mother's frequent reminder echoes in my mind - "The man with an experience is not at the mercy of a man with an argument." I am a recipient of His healing and can testify of it; I believe it makes me a more effective leader and I know that it has provided openings with others that I may not have had otherwise.

Awesome

It's been encouraging to hear all of the different points of view. I am a leader who is still healing from an ongoing cut in my wound...And just when I think I'm healed, the Master Surgeon shows me that the affected area needs to be re-cut to heal properly (my husband once cut his head open and had to have it re-cut, as it quickly began to heal incorrectly!)It's pretty painful. I can't be bitter for it. I must daily keep my heart in check on this issue to maintain a godly perspective. Praise God, He's so faithful to take trials like these and continually turn them to blessings (even when I can't always see them).

When we are weak...HE IS STONG and his strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Good to know we are not in it alone. ;)

The beauty of pain is that we run to the Healer to heal. When I look back on my life at all of the times when I hurt so badly I was lying on the floor, crying so much that my heart felt like it was being flat-ironed, the Holy Spirit was there with me, ministering to me, loving me, leading me to Scripture verses, and pushing me deeper into His arms.
Those experiences have led me to the place where I now facilitate that experience for others - I bring them to Him and then help them to receive everything He brings.
As leaders, our job is to come from underneath and hold people up to God. We can only do that when we are wasted on Him to begin with, and pain can bring us there, because He truly is the only source and answer to our needs & the needs of those we lead.

It's so like God that I found this today. Nine years ago today, my first husband died at the age of 41, leaving me to raise a 15 yr old son & a 10 yr old daughter. What a struggle! I began to become very angry and lashed out at a God who would take a good husband & a wonderful father to my kids. What was He thinking?? -- I believe that God knew that I'd make it through, although scared & find healing thru another marriage which ended in divorce. My second husband was an alcoholic. I also found a ministry called Celebrate Recovery where I found healing thru God's love and acceptance. I soon became a women's small group leader & then the women leader for the local group. God still reveals things I need to heal from --such as fear. My second husband died 1 1/2 yrs ago from cancer. We'd began a friendship over the phone as he had moved away. I had thought about dating, but didn't find any "qualified" inquiries. But I wasn't desperate, either. I soon began chatting online to a Christian man who lived 50 miles from me. We talked for 3 weeks before meeting face to face. We were married last Dec & I have to say that I'm very happy. BUT, I still face that fear of him dying. I fight it almost daily, especially on days like today.
My husband & I are praying about starting a new Celebrate Recovery group here. (I moved to where my husband works as I was brought up that a Christian woman follows her husband.) I know that God will use all my past, present & future failures for HIS glory. And Christ's blood covers it all!!

In every area that "the God of all comfort" has conforted us "so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received..."(II Cor.1:3), will make us better leaders. We will be more compassionate and understanding. We can pour out on those we lead, the same comfort that God poured out on us.

It comforts me in the most profound way when God keeps reasuring something to me, through my sisters or a sermon or an article. I've been suffering with chronic PMS. I know it probably sounds stupid. "PMS give me a break" right. But seriously to the point of having to question is something really seriously wrong? But after wards coming out of in over and over and just moving on till the next month it happens. This morning God touched my heart more than once, confirming He will bring so much beauty out of this for the good of His will in my life. He already has proven what profound love and beauty He can bring out of suffering. Not that Has to prove it, but it's something I've been going back to the last few days to draw strength from. How it has made me a better leader. I'm a lead teacher in the childrens ministry at a semi-mega church. It's made me a better leader for those little faces I get to see every Saturday. Its humbled me, knocked my pride out, and has given me a greater appeciation for my very own kids, and husband. I am learning to serve others, rather that just thinking of myself all the time. He has shown me that He will strengthen me for His will no matter what....no matter what! Thank You for touching on this subject.
"I can do anything through him who gives me strength."Philippians 4:13

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