I vividly remember a number of years ago that we were moving some things on the platform of our church getting ready for some event. One of our Youth, who was maybe ten or twelve years old, was carrying a speaker probably a little bigger than he was when he slipped and careened into the wall causing the corner of speaker to leave a nice sized dimple in the drywall. He immediately looked over at me, feeling guilty and said, “Pastor, I’m sorry, I left a mark.” Without giving it much thought, I instantly said something to the effect of, “Yep, I guess you did. That is exactly what I want you to do, Jared. Go into this world, allow Jesus to work through you and leave a mark! I’m serious. Don’t ever forget it!”
That event could have gone a different way. I could have made a careless, cutting comment leaving a mark on his spirit and soul that could have damaged or severely hampered his potential. I am so thankful I said what I did. The Holy Spirit must have been hard at work that day! Since that time, Jared has grown into an incredible young man, married now with a beautiful wife, 2 children and is a staff pastor at an amazing church. No guarantees, but had I reacted differently, things may have turned out differently for him.
An exaggeration? I don’t think so. I am confident that some of you still have a phrase or two that were spoken to you that, to this day, reminds you of a mark you wish wasn’t there. You hate it when it sneaks up on you more often than you like and either drives you to defeat or causes the same words to come out of your mouth that went into your ears causing that wound. I don’t know that because I’m “prophetic” but because I’m human. Being an ordained pastor with almost forty years of experience doesn’t make me bullet-proof. I still battle some of those words to this day. They certainly don’t have the hold on me they used to many years ago, but that is the power of pain and a wound.
The good news is that we don’t have to be dominated by them. You see, Jesus left a mark for us so, we in turn, could leave a mark on the world for good. Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many in the pastoral ministry with unhealed, unyielded wounds, operate out of insecurity, damaging their leadership ability. You don’t need a shrink, but there is nothing wrong in seeking out help. You don’t need alcohol, medication or other life-damaging things to get you through the day.
What we all, especially those of us in pastoral roles, need is a wounded healer! Many of us entered the ministry out of a pure, sincere desire to help others. Many of us desire to help others due to being touched when someone else is hurt, remembering what it was like when we got “marked.” But remember this, we can only help someone climb when we are on a different step than they are. That is why it is imperative for us to refuse to remain dominated by hurtful marks someone else left on us.
We need to focus on the marks Jesus left for us on his hands and side. May we be reminded of those marks on Him for our benefit and the blood that was shed for our redemption! Father, I come to you with my “marks” that too often trip me up. I surrender them to You and ask You to heal my heart so I can leave the mark on the lives you bring across my path and make the difference You created me to make!
John Adams has been pastoring New Life Church in Sandusky, Ohio for over 23 years and has served as a law enforcement chaplain for over a decade. He was recently featured as a guest on Michael Hyatt’s “Lead to Win” podcast and teaches “Emotional Survival for Pastors.” For more information, visit: PastorJohn.net