One of the most enlightened titles of spiritual books that I have come across is The Wounded Healer by the late Henri Nouwen. It is a book primarily to encourage ministers to not negate their wounds, but to identify them so that it forms a compassionate starting point for ministry.
But most of us who do minister to the wounded tend to not want to do this. It comes from a (misunderstood) standpoint where we as ministers or priests have all the answers, hold all the positions of security, and think that it is ours to lead all the time. To be sure, there is a very necessary role for the minister tending to the wounded of their flock to be a leader and to show direction. But it is certainly not a truism that the perfect minister is the one who has no inner wounds, and is perfect before he can help others find their footing in life.
Perhaps it is something in our misunderstood or under-understood male psychology that prefers not to identify our own individual weakness and wounds. “I’m fine” is a very common response to an injury that one encounters in the game called life. And falsely, many of us do think that it requires the stoic and perfected counselor or spiritual director to lead one from woundedness to wholeness. I say that it is false, because there are no perfect counselors.
The most common way to deal with our woundedness is to deny it is there. Many people can go through life in denial. Of course, the talk-show mentality has surfaced in the past decade or so, where the other end of the wounded spectrum is seen. What I am referring to is the phenomenon where people with a wounded past almost take delight in doing some form of public exposition of their wounded past in front of millions of television viewers, thinking that this will somehow set things right. Certainly, mixed in there somewhere can be detected the person’s proverbial desire of five minutes of fame, but a healing hardly results, ending up with greater wounds than one began with.
What is required by everyone - counselor, counselee, minister and leader, is the sacred handling of these wounds. When carefully handled and with the proper salve given through loving and prayerful and charitable friendships and support systems, the very wounds that one had tried to deny and escape from can in fact become the very platforms that makes one a credible co-sojourner in life.
It brings to mind a quotation often attributed to French philosopher Albert Camus - Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
The perfect minister is myth. I believe that that is a myth because even Our Lord Jesus, the healer of all healers needed to be wounded before the world was healed of its own wounds. What we do need is great humility to see this in ourselves, and to allow ourselves to see the world through our own wounds.