The Wounded Healer (book review)

Wounded Healer, The

“For the minister is called to recognize the sufferings of his time in his own heart and make that recognition the starting point of his service. Whether he tries to enter into a dislocated world, relate to a convulsive generation, or speak to a dying man, his service will not be perceived as authentic unless it comes from a heart wounded by the suffering about which he speaks” (from the introduction).

Henri Nouwen was a man ahead of his time. Although this book was written in the early 1970s, it sounds so applicable for today. The Wounded Healer challenged me as a Christian leader to step into the pain-filled lives as others in a more authentic way. Nouwen argues that healers must first be personally acquainted with the same type of pain that other wounded people are experiencing.

Isaiah 53 says that Christ “was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.” Because Jesus was wounded in the same way we are wounded, He knows how to help (see Hebrews 2:18).

One closing quote from Nouwen: “If there is any posture that disturbs a suffering man or woman, it is aloofness. … No one can help anyone without becoming involved, without entering with his whole person into the painful situations, without taking the risk of become hurt, wounded or even destroyed in the process. The beginning and the end of Christian leadership is to give your life for others.”

This book reconfirmed my desire to—like Jesus—be a wounded healer for others.

3 Responses to “The Wounded Healer (book review)”

  1. Doreen Dennis Says:

    I have known Jesus for quite some time. I do feel other’s pain. I have seen him and spoken to his face. He is real. I don’t like what I feel, but I can’t turn my back on Him.


  2. Frank Pray Says:

    “Stepping into the pain” is a strong metaphor of love. Love is a package deal: we eagerly step into the pleasure, not realizing that we also, if our love is real, step into the pain.


  3. Familiar Conversations | Craig T. Owens Says:

    […] Wounded Healer. To go deeper in my relationships with others, I have to be able to relate to them at deeper levels. Henri Nouwen has captured the essence of this in Wounded Healer. We cannot minister to others out of our wounds, but out of our scars. In other words, once we’ve healed, but the scar is still there to remind us of the wound, we’re ready to help others heal from the same injury. […]


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