What We Have To Offer Others – God’s Gift to Us
Author Henri Nouwen has written: Loneliness is the minister’s wound not only because he shares the human condition, but also because of the unique predicament of his profession. It is this wound he is called to bind with more care and attention than others usually do. For a minister who is committed to forming a community of faith, loneliness is a very painful wound which is easily subject to denial and neglect. But once the pain is accepted and understood, a denial is no longer necessary, and ministry can become a healing service.
Our wounds and loneliness are the most important tools ministers have for the work of forming communities of faith. This is true for all persons, though most of us do not want to believe it. One of the great temptations of professional ministry is to deny our wounds and believe we have it all together! Yet countless pastors, chaplains, etc. act out, burn out, or just drop out each year in frustration, confusion, or despair. As people of faith, we all have known great joys and have also experienced some frustration, confusion, and even despair. I’ve been fortunate enough to find the counsel, support and strength to help me keep going in my life. In fact, it is my experience of wrestling with the hard things and also giving thanks for the joyful things—and connecting with others in their joy and struggles—that has turned out to be my most vital life tool!
This truth is for all persons. Who doesn’t experience frustration, confusion, and even despair in life? Who doesn’t experience loneliness, at least on occasion? At the same time, who doesn’t experience, at least on occasion, the joy of human love and the satisfaction of accomplishment? All these experiences push us to examine ourselves. Are we getting to know ourselves more honestly and deeply? Are our actions reflecting our core values or are they being driven more by forces outside ourselves?
Poet Robert Bly told the story of a man who worked seven years literally underground sawing wood. After seven years, the payment he received was all the sawdust he had created. Needless to say, he was disappointed at this pay, but the man took all that sawdust with him. When he returned above ground, he discovered that the sawdust had turned to gold. All of us have that sawdust. It is the product of our living whether or not we have learned to value it. It is our treasure—God’s gift to us. Ultimately, it is what we have to offer others.
May God continue to bless you.