Wounded Leaders

Tracks of My Tears

It’s virtually impossible to find a photo of me without my toothy grin or doubled-over guffaw.  Saying that I LOVE to laugh would have to be the understatement of the year.  But there is that lingering statement of unknown origin that cuts through my hearty humor to the deep wounds that still exist, “The people who laugh most have experienced the most pain.”  A quote like that rips away my smile to reveal a lifetime of anguish including-but-not-limited-to miscarriage, divorce, infertility treatment, multiple encounters with spousal unemployment, arthritis, joint replacement, a son with hemophilia, and a youngest daughter with a long list of other chronic diagnoses.  It begs the question, How could a person who is as much of a hot mess as I am be chosen by God to lead a ministry?  Yet, here I am, a decade into the weeds, still carrying on.

I have thought of bailing out on the Lord many, many times over the past ten years.  Who could blame me?  I have a family of my own who needs me.  Two of my three children have special needs.  I don’t think there is a week where I am not at some hospital or doctor’s appointment.  The school challenges never end.  Life with my precious offspring is never dull — Frequently in the way a minefield is never dull.  I am a life crying out to be served.

Yet, God calls me to serve.  As I’ve sat quietly in His presence on numerous occasions over the years, asking for the opportunity to throw in the towel, he reminds me of Jesus’ words in Mark 10:45 and kicks my fanny back in the game.  I’m here to serve, not be served.  My life is to be a ransom, just like Jesus’.  This means I go where God calls and leads, rather than enjoy the type of job that has regular hours and a 10% discount on family purchases.

I have been harshly judged by others over the years.  They see that I have problems and question my calling.  Their stern admonition is that I stay at home and tend only to the children.  Ironically, they’ve never been willing to volunteer for the ministry nor to tell me how I should replace my small-but-needed income.  They’ve also never explained how I am to walk away from the Lord when I clearly hear His voice saying, “This is the way.  Walk in it.”  (Isaiah 30:21)

There are wiser leaders than I.  Many have doctorates, have cleaner homes, work at bigger establishments, are invited to speak at multiple conferences, and garner a much higher salary than I.  Yet, I still have qualities that the Lord wants in His service.  Namely, they are my woundedness and obedience.

A wounded leader is a broken human.  And if we couple that brokenness with obedience, He creates something amazing from it.  God chooses some like us because, just as a cracked pot allows the light inside to shine through it’s flaws, so do we injured types.  His power is made perfect in our weakness.  And our “limp” gives us a special platform that garners the attention of others.  Ours is a faith that is tried and true.  We inspire hope in others who believe that if we can find some joy in life, then maybe so can they.  People want to follow because they see our courage in spite of wounds, and they are energized to do the same.  They see something that is beyond the troubles of this world, and they want it too.

Leader friend of mine, we live in a fallen, broken world.  Less than 15 minutes of the evening news will make that more than clear to you.  God does not expect us to be perfect, just obedient and magnifying of His glory.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, that can even be done by a wounded, suburban Wisconsin house frau like me.

How is God using your woundedness in leadership?  We would love to hear…

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  1. #1 by Ann Holmes on May 30, 2013 - 6:43 am

    Barb, this may well be one of the most honest, vulnerable, real, – and I could go on – from the heart’s core expressions of the kind of life and ministry God has called you to that I have ever read. I could have written it – if I were you!!! Details differ but the essence is the same! I am convinced that wounded leadership is the best kind. After all, it follows in our Savior’s train. He was wounded for our sakes and calls us to lay our wounded lives down for others. The very woundedness gives moral and practical “authority”! (Never mind that His woundedness is to heal ours since our woundedness comes from a whole different place!) Thank you, my dear friend! You have made my day and reached my heart!

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