“Embracing Shared Ministry”– a Review of Sorts

I don’t normally write reviews, and this really isn’t one… more of an interaction perhaps. But before, I do, I will give a wee bit of background35

Two months ago, I found the book Embracing Shared Ministry: Power and Status in the Early Church and Why It Matters Today by Joseph H. Hellerman. I found the book in one of those many bookstores here in the Philippines that gathers a large menagerie of disorganized books from the United States. Rarely I find books that interest me, but this one ALMOST convinced me to buy it. I wrote a short blogpost based on my quick glance of the book. Curiously, the author of the book commented on my post and hoped I would enjoy reading the book. As frugal as I am (of necessity) I still went back to the bookstore to find the single copy… gone. Ah well. This happens. But a month later, a seminary student of mine, from Myanmar, moved into our downstairs apartment. He welcomed me to peruse his collection of books. When I did I found the book… actually the exact copy that I had glanced through a month earlier. With that, it was settled. I was definitely meant to read it.

The book is definitely ecclesiological in aim, which is quite appropriate. It seeks to support the idea of team or plural leadership in the church. I have never had trouble with that, and in fact have always found it strange that my tradition (Baptist) has had trouble with it. Baptist theologians and pastors will  decry infant baptism, sacramental understanding of the Eucharist, purgatory, or bishops and apostles (as positions hierarchally above the local church), and many other things as inconsistent with the beliefs and practices of the primitive church. Yet when it comes to the Baptist practice of single (and, oh yes… has got to be male) leadership with respect to the primitive church, the response is suddenly very different with circuitous logic to work around the fairly obvious– that the early church does not appear to have leadership the way most Baptist churches do.

But, truthfully, I don’t really have a lot of interest in Ecclesiology.

My interests, however, are in two topics that provide pillars supporting his ecclesiological position.


Interest #1. Spiritual Abuse. Administrating a pastoral care center and acting as a pastoral care “counselor” in the Philippines means that I deal with a lot of cases that involve spiritual abuse. Some may argue that the problem comes from the Philippines being an Honor/Shame-centered culture (although not nearly to the same extent as some countries such as Indonesia are). Some may say it is due to the long reach of Confucian ideals of unilateral submission. Some may argue that it is centered on post-colonial mindset, or perhaps centuries of governmentally enforced submission to Catholic clergy. Regardless, authoritarian churches with church leaders that act abusively are common. Often the abuse is not only accepted, in many groups it is theologically/biblically justified. In some cases, it is not the pastor who is abusive, it could be some other member of the church– for example the patriarch of the church community in a culture that grants power based on age, or in a family church where power is centered in one or two blood kin, or in a traditional village wher one assumes the role of “datu.” Regardless, the external culture’s power structure is embedded in the DNA of the local church– and often given a theological stamp of approval.

To be honest, I have never really known what to do with this. As a counselor, I can help the victims… but should I challenge/attack the root cause? Or should I accept that it is a unique contextualization of the church in Philippine culture. However, much of the problems in the Philippines comes not strictly from home-grown authoritarian structures (ignoring for the moment the “Iglesia ni Cristo” religious group that is quite authoritarian and somewhat home-grown), but from a resonant response to outside influences such as the Korean, American, and South American churches that promote unilateral submission to ecclesiastical authority.

Hellerman’s book, in chapter 7 primarily gives some vignettes of those who have suffered at the hands of toxic leadership in church. These stories remind me of some of the examples in McIntosh and Rima’s book “Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership.” But this book focuses more on those on the receiving end of Paranoid, Narcissistic, and Compulsive leaders. Ron Enroth’s books, such as the classic “Churches that Abuse,” are valuable. However, here the value is somewhat in the “mundane” nature of abuse. Abuse is not always like Jim Jones or David Koresh with their respective groups… sometimes it is simply a pastor who calls the church council to have meetings for hours on end with no apparent greater purpose than to rubber stamp everything he says (been there, done that). Or a leader who will accuse and excuse staff, members, and self, based on little more than personal whims and insecurities. Normally, a person who said that he was accountable to no one but God, we would say they was lawless… and dangerous to those around him. However, all too many churches set up their church denying their clerical leadership of effective support… and accountability. And often seminaries are guilty of justifying it under the doubtful argument of tradition, or even Biblical mandate.

On this level, Hellerman makes a good argument that there is something inherently flawed with leadership without accountability. His suggestion that changing the structure to team leadership providing mutual accountability and support, is worthy of strong consideration. Of course, any organization will suffer to some extent with a toxic member.

Interest #2.  Cultural Anthropology. I teach courses, especially Missions, at a couple of seminaries. My favorite topic is Cultural Anthropology… and its first cousin, Contextual Theology. Hellerman spends a considerable part of the front end of the book explaining the culture of the Roman Empire, and more specifically the culture of the Roman colony of Philippi– especially as it pertains to honor and shame. There has been increased interest in honor-shame as it pertains to contextualization of the Gospel as well as theology. But, as noted by many, the Bible was written in a predominantly honor-shame environment. With that fact, one might think that theologians struggle more with guilt-innocence cultures than honor-shame… but church history seems to have achieved practical pre-eminance over Biblical history. The author makes a good case for the supposition that Philippi was more Roman in culture than Greek or Macedonian, and so carried with them the Roman views of virtue and honor more faithfully than any other city that Paul visited (with the possible exception of Rome itself).

If Philippi has a unique culture, a culture that Paul had personal experience with, it is reasonable that Paul’s epistle to that church was read through that cultural perspective differently than it would in other cities. It might also be reasonable to assume that Paul would write it so as to effectively and uniquely challenge those within that culture.

There is a risk here of over-simplifying in this case. Every culture has a range of beliefs that could be considered part of the norm. Additionally, individuals overflow the norms of any culture. Finally, there is the commonality of the humanity of all people. Because of these, interpreting through cultural “filters” can be problematic.Additionally, all cultures are complex, so it is risky to grab one characteristic and act as if it is the defining cultural trait in interpretation. Just because a lot of corn is grown in Nebraska doesn’t mean that “dirt farming” is a good cultural filter for interpreting a speech of the governor of Nebraska to his constituency. A better direction to go in would be to ask “Knowing the culture of Nebraska, with all of its unity, diversity, and uniqueness, how might the average citizen of Nebraska respond to the speech.”

I believe that comes closer to what the author here did. After describing the evidences in support to Philippi being a highly Roman culture with support of class, caste, and social capital, he goes to the epistle from Paul. There, he doesn’t really try to interpret directly through the lens of honor and shame. Rather, he seems more to say, “If a person in the culture comes to the 2nd chapter of Philippians and finds Jesus having the honored position as God (noting that the point here is not so much one of ontology), and how he eschews all divine and societal honor, and takes on the greatest form of humiliation in the Roman world, how would he (or she) react? And if this same person discovers in the same passage that people in his church should follow Jesus’ example (in apparent direct opposition to community norms) what does that say about how the church is supposed to operate?” Understanding the culture, and imaginatively placing oneself into the culture and interacting with the epistle, can help one to understand the true counter- (not “anti-“) cultural character of the letter.


As I said, this was not a review. If I was reviewing it, I would argue that the author does a good job of

  1.  Demonstrating the dangers of a single-leader church today, especially where there is no accountability structure in place.
  2. Supporting the idea that team leadership is ‘biblical,’ at least if one accepts that term to mean consistent with Scripture, as opposed to being “biblically mandated.”

The link between the cultural exegesis of the epistle of Philippians and the idea of team leadership is weaker, I think, although it does certainly seem to support at least a flattening of any church hierarchy.

However, while not directly tied to the theme, the book is valuable in

  • Understanding 1st century Roman culture and the importance of understanding it in interpretation of Scripture, rather than through layers of church and societal changes.
  • Identifying the link between spiritual abuse and both societal values brought into the church, and organizational structures that nurture abuse.
  • Seeing Paul as a man who challenged culture, through the very symbols of culture— genre, story, metaphor, and more.

Personally, I would like to know more about team leadership, and would love to see this structure attempted, counter-culturally, in the Philippines. It is also true, that I prefer a Congregational concept where authority is recognized as coming from God, mediated through the congregation and to a group of leaders. In effect, this creates a cycle where authority and power flow from people to leadership team, to ministry leaders, and back to the people. Of course, in saying this, I have to acknowledge that it rarely seems to work… but then again, what does?




Missionary Roles Doodling

Doodling a bit with the role of Missionaries. I am generally unhappy with most common definitions for missionaries. Many of the definitions seem to do little more than promote a certain bias, rather than inform. Unfortunately, because my way of thinking about missionaries, and missions generally, is rather broad, my view of both terms can apply to pretty much everything. That is a problem, I suppose, so I guess I would like to show missionaries in four stages (or roles) as talked about in Perspectives of the World Christian Movement.

Missions Roles

One option is that missionaries serve where the church IS NOT.  In this case, the missionary role is that of a PIONEER. The goal is then for the church to transition from not existing to being existent in that context.

If the church exists, the question shifts from IS versus IS NOT, to HAS or HAS NOT. The question is one of whether the church has matured to the point that it is a ministering effectively. The missionary is more like a PARENT, and helping to guide the church towards being fully ministering– self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating (and perhaps working towards self-theologizing). The church is moving towards being fully COMPETENT. We see, for example, Paul pioneering the church in Philippi in Acts, and then sending a letter to encourage and guide them towards greater maturity years later.

If the church is fully functioning, there may still be areas of structural concerns that the local church CANNOT handle in terms of ministry. These can include: Bible translation, radio ministry, orphanages, medical services or other things that the local church lacks resources to do. In such a case, the  missionary serves as a PARTNER with local churches, providing structures and services, the local church could benefit from in fulfilling its mission, but at this point CANNOT. However, the goal is that these structures, skills, and resources from the missionaries move over to the local churches so that they have ownership of these structures in doing ministry.

If all of these questions are answered positively, the end result is that the missionary and the church both have a role as PARTICIPANTs in ministry.

Additional thoughts

  • Looking at the diagram a bit more, a few things to note. As one moves towards the right, the role of the missionary gets lower. This doesn’t mean he (or she) becomes less valuable… but DOES become less necessary. Where there is not church, there needs to be a messenger… a sent out one… a missionary. Where a church exists, it may be beneficial to have outside discipling… but not critical. If the church is mature, it may be helped by specialized ministries in parachurch (sodality) structures… but may do fine without them. In the final stage, missionaries and the local churches work together as fully equal partners/participants in God’s work. Ideally, there is gain in the interaction, but of the four roles, it is the least necessary.
  • The process is then of one where the importance of the missionary decreases, as the capacity of the local church increases– reducing the capacity gap between them. Having this happen faster rather than slower is a good thing so as to minimize a stagnation in dependency on the missionary.
  • It is hard to say which missionary should be the most common. Arguments could be made for each one.Consider below.

Pioneers are the most critical so they would seem to need to be the most common. However, there are less and less TRULY unreached locations, and lightly reached locations can often be more effectively reached through young churches with new believers.

Parenting could be argued should be the most common since it still plays a critical role as the muscle of transforming newly pioneered churches into self-replicating churches. Church planting movements are driven by young churches that have been parented/mentored by these missionaries. Since there are many more lightly reached areas that have churches that need to be parented towards self-replication, there should, perhaps be more of these. On the other hand, the process from left right on the diagram should be fairly rapid to avoid stagnation or dependency, so arguably the number of missionaries here should be less because the time in this process should be less.

Partnering could be argued as requiring the most, since it is often a much longer term process. Many local churches cannot handle structures like Christian radio stations, medical ministries, orphanages and the like… and many of them will not be able to do so for many years. As such, as there are potentially many such sodality structures that may have to exist under missionary control for a long time, maybe there should be more missionaries in this category. On the other hand, since they are generally less necessary, perhaps they should be limited to encourage more towards Pioneering and Parenting roles. Additionally, while the partnering stage can last longer than Pioneering and Parenting, there is a tendency for missionaries to be unwilling to let go, so perhaps keeping the numbers down would discourage this.

Finally, Participants could be argued as being the one that should be the most numerous. Since this position should have no inherent time frame, this one can be rather permanent. And as more an more parts of the world now have mature churches that can gain from interaction from other churches of the world (ideally old sending countries can gain as much from missionaries from new sending countries as vice versa), it makes sense that their numbers could be going up. It is also nice to have churches that strengthen each other as equal partners. On the other hand, again, since their role is not truly necessary, it could be argued to be wasteful to have too many who are Participants.

How NOT to Write a Missionary Newsletter


I have been guilty of several of these at one time or another. Frankly, the article makes me feel good that I don’t struggle alone. However… a bad newsletter sucks the life out of the excitement of God’s work in the world… so, it still is not excusable.

7 Rules of Dialoguing

How does one do interfaith dialoguing? From the John Hick camp comes the idea that both must relativize their own beliefs. That is difficult to do in practice, and hardly seems appropriate for many— suggesting a sort of virtue in weak convictions.

A better, in my mind, view comes from an article (written in Afrikaans, one of many many languages I cannot read) from South Africa. I am drawing from someone else’s blog– a South African who can read that language. It all ties together with “Seven Rules for Dialogue Between Christians and non-Christians” by Max Warren. So rather than rehash anymore, I would suggest clicking on the various blog posts by

So… Yes… this is a blog of a blog or an article of an article.

     Introduction Blog:         Click Here

     First Rule: Acceptance of our Common Humanity:     Click Here

     Second Rule:  Divine Omnipresence:    Click Here

     Third Rule:  Accepting the Best in Other Religions:      Click Here

     Fourth Rule:  Identification:   Click Here

     Fifth Rule:  Courtesy:  Click Here

     Sixth Rule:  Interpretation:    Click Here

     Seventh Rule:  Expectancy:   Click Here


Why are 2/3 World Missionaries Quitting?

My students were doing presentations for Missionary Member Care Class. One, Michael, was presenting the findings of ReMAP… a study of (Christian) missionary attrition.

All of my students come from New Sending Countries (2/3 World) from the standpoint of the ReMAP study. When one looks at reasons for attrition of missionaries from Old Sending Countries (US, Canada, UK, Germany, etc.), the top 4 reasons listed were:leaving

  1. Normal Retirement     13.2%
  2. Children Issues             10.1%
  3. Change of Job                  8.9%
  4. Health Problems            8.4%

The numbers are quite different for New Sending Countries (Ghana, Singapore, Korea, Brazil, Philippines, etc.):

  1. Lack of Home Support            8.1%
  2. Lack of (Missionary) Call       8.0%
  3. Inadequate Commitment       7.3%
  4. Disagreement with Agency    6.1%

These stats are compiled in Too Valuable to Lose. It can be read HERE

The problem is that in many 2/3 world cultures (including church and missionary agency micro-cultures), missionaries are left in a  “Catch-22” scenario. They often get inadequate support. If they acquiesce to that fate, they may eventually have to quit. On the other hand, if they express concerns to their mission agency or sending church, they risk being labeled “unfit for missionary service” or having inadequate commitment.

The lists above were based on surveys given to mission agencies or sending churches. They were not based on answers given by missionaries. So it is quite possible that the reasons were based more on the interpretation of the sender (mission board or church). Breaking down the results to countries, we find that Nigeria and Ghana are particularly prone to label attrition as “Lack of Call” and Singapore as “Disagreement with Agency.”

It is quite possible that lack of home support dominates all four of those top four reasons for attrition. Lack of home support when reported to unsympathetic senders, can get labeled as “lack of missionary call,” “Inadequate commitment, or “disagreement with agency.” If so, inadequate support from home is huge.

One may argue that because this survey is 20 years old, things have changed. I am sure things HAVE changed… but much still appears to be the same. Living in the Philippines, I know that a lot of the problems still exist.  If anything, things are getting worse, as some of the problems of the new sending countries are trickling over to the old. I know a lot of missionaries from “the West” who have had to go home due to lack of support. Frankly, our support is dreadful at the moment, but we are hoping to ride out the storm.

Regardless, for 2/3 world missions, home support is still a major issue, but so is a better selection process and pre-field training. These mission groups should NOT try to mimic the Western missions, but should pay attention to some of the lessons learned.

Missionary Member Care, and the Didache

Been teaching a class on Missionary Member Care. I have enjoyed it— I make no promise that my 12 students share that opinion. After the student group presentation of Missionary Member Care in the light of the Carey Mission (especially as it relates to William Carey, John Thomas, Dorothy Carey, and Felix Carey), we had a bit of time left, so I handed out a reading from the Didache that relates to Missionary Member Care.  Here it is:didache_md2

CHAPTER 11 Travelling teachers — Apostles — Prophets

3 And concerning the Apostles and Prophets, act thus according to the ordinance of the Gospel.  4 Let every Apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord, 5 but let him not stay more than one day, or if need be a second as well; but if he stay three days, he is a false prophet. 6 And when an Apostle goes forth let him accept nothing but bread till he reach his night’s lodging; but if he ask for money, he is a false prophet.

7 Do not test or examine any prophet who is speaking in a spirit, “for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven.” 8 But not everyone who speaks in a spirit is a prophet, except he have the behaviour of the Lord. From his behaviour, then, the false prophet and the true prophet shall be known.

9 And no prophet who orders a meal in a spirit shall eat of it: otherwise he is a false prophet. 10 And every prophet who teaches the truth, if he do not what he teaches, is a false prophet.

11 But no prophet who has been tried and is genuine, though he enact a worldly mystery of the Church, if he teach not others to do what he does himself, shall be judged by you: for he has his judgment with God, for so also did the prophets of old. 12 But whosoever shall say in a spirit `Give me money, or something else,’ you shall not listen to him; but if he tell you to give on behalf of others in want, let none judge him.

CHAPTER 12 Travelling Christians

1 Let everyone who “comes in the Name of the Lord” be received; but when you have tested him you shall know him, for you shall have understanding of true and false.  2 If he who comes is a traveller, help him as much as you can, but he shall not remain with you more than two days, or, if need be, three.

3 And if he wishes to settle among you and has a craft, let him work for his bread. 4 But if he has no craft provide for him according to your understanding, so that no man shall live among you in idleness because he is a Christian. 5 But if he will not do so, he is making traffic of Christ; beware of such.

CHAPTER 13 Prophets who desire to remain — Their payment by firstfruits

1 But every true prophet who wishes to settle among you is “worthy of his food.” 2 Likewise a true teacher is himself worthy, like the workman, of his food. 3 Therefore thou shalt take the firstfruit of the produce of the winepress and of the threshing-floor and of oxen and sheep, and shalt give them as the firstfruits to the prophets, for they are your high priests.

4 But if you have not a prophet, give to the poor.

5 If thou makest bread, take the firstfruits, and give it according to the commandment. 6 Likewise when thou openest a jar of wine or oil, give the firstfruits to the prophets. 7 Of money also and clothes, and of all your possessions, take the firstfruits, as it seem best to you, and give according to the commandment.

As I have said numerous times before, the term “apostle” appears to match up best with the modern term “missionary,” both in role and etymology. And that appears to be how it is used here– especially as a missionary who plants churches. The prophets appear to be traveling preachers who go from church to church, encouraging the brethren. I might still call them missionaries…. at least to the extent that they seek to empower the pre-existent local church to know and do what it did not know and do before. Regardless, however, of how you want to define them… they were Christians who traveled as part of their ministry.

Consider how an “apostle” is to be cared for:

  • Receive him (or her since we know there were female apostles)
  • Let him stay one day only… or maybe two
  • Feed him during his stay
  • Give him food for his journey, but no money

For the “prophet”:

  • Don’t test the message of a prophet if it is “in the spirit”
  • But verify if he is a REAL prophet
  • Do not give him money for himself
  • But give money if it is for his ministry

For those traveling “in the Name of the Lord”

  • They are to be welcomed and can stay two days… or maybe thre
  • If they want to stay longer, they need to work. Help him do so if need be.

The Didache is a very old book. Some parts of it appear to predate parts of the New Testament. Some of my students were wondering if I was saying that the member care of apostles and prophets in the 1st (or maybe 2nd) century describes what we should be doing today. No… for at least two reasons. First, this was probably one church’s way of dealing with this particular challenge… or maybe a regional group of churches. There is no reason to think that it expresses any sort of universal guidance. Second, although many restorationist and revivalist denominations think of themselves as seeking to restore the 1st century church; actually, we are supposed to create the 21st century church. The 1st century (as well as the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and so on, century churches) provides us with insight as a flashlight may give guidance, not constraint like shackles might give constraint.

But in the Didache we see a church that is struggling with problems that we still see today. They want to help, but they don’t want to be taken advantage of. They want to be trained and informed by people of Godly wisdom, but not fooled by charlatans.

So there is a time of PRE-EVALUATION.

It is a bit humorous here. If the person speaks in the Spirit, the message is not supposed to be questioned, but then the rest of the section appears to be, in fact, questioning and doubting. Perhaps it is a bit like today. If a preacher preaches the word of God, we in the congregation are not to question the word of God, but we can question the preacher, and his interpretation.

There is CONTINUED MONITORING:  The individual is cared for for awhile, but there is caution that they are not demonstrating the greed of a charlatan. As such, they are fed and lodged, but not too long. If they ask for money, it should be to help another, not themselves.

There is CARE GIVEN:  They are received as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. They are fed and housed… but only for awhile. 1 day for an apostle… or maybe 2 perhaps. 2 days for a traveling Christian, or maybe 3.  When they leave, give them food to travel with, but not money.

There is the issue of SETTLING DOWN:  If a traveler wants to remain. that is okay as long as he has a craft that he can use to earn money. If he doesn’t have a craft, the church appears to be willing to help him be able to get a job… but not be a long-term burden on the church.

If a prophet wants to settle down, there is a time to verify that he is a “true” prophet. If so evaluated, he can be supported long-term by the church.

Perhaps the rules about a prophet apply to an apostle as well. (I like to think that John the Elder in Ephesus was John the Apostle after he settled down in later years.) Or perhaps the assumption is that an apostle would settle down in a church that he himself founds.

What we see is a church struggling to help without being hurt. To avoid the two failures (described by Kelly O’Donnell) of Coddling/Placating at one extreme, and Condemning/Punishing at the other. The wording of the Didache bounces back and forth between sounding a big rigid, and being a bit… wishy-washy. Perhaps, that is a good bit of guidance for us today– struggling in the tension between two unhealthy extremes.





Holy Defect Presentation

Been doing various presentations/seminars on Kintsukuroi (golden repair) as a metaphor of being beautifully broken. I expanded this to include other images of “holy defect” the idea that God does NOT desire in us some unattainable, and frankly unidentifiable, perfection. Rather, God’s glory is demonstrated most, and we are most effective ministerially, with demonstration of our flaws, our brokenness, our scars.

This presentation connects with a another post… HERE.

Also can look at the TOP POSTS page for Kintsukuroi posts.

Images of Holy Defect

Defects are not always bad. Defects, after all, simply are things that show variance from someone’s idea of perfection. But perfection is not only unattainable… it is also unidentifiable.  Plato’s idealized forms don’t really exist… here or anywhere else.

But what do I mean by “Holy Defect.” This doesn’t mean “defective holiness.” Rather, I am suggesting that flaws may be sanctified, set apart by God as– for a lack of a better word– good.

I would like to suggest a few images/metaphors to explain and reinforce this point.

  1. Thorn in the flesh

For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me.  Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.             (II Corinthians 12:6-10)

I don’t know what this “thorn is.” Some suggest that it is a physical infirmity. Could be… it involves the flesh after all. Some suggest it was feelings of guilt for killing Christians in the past. I doubt that– it would be a poor choice of metaphor if it was (but could be). It could be some sort of sexual temptation or struggle. Paul uses flesh as a metaphor for, well, carnality. I work with a counseling center, and certainly Romans 7:18ff sounds a lot like what people say who struggle with sexual issues. But no one knows for sure.

But one thing I do know… it is a defect. Not only is it a defect; but it is a defect that God seems to prefer that he maintains. The defect gives humility. It demonstrates God’s grace and power.

2.  Penitent Publican.publican_and_pharisee

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:  “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[a] thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’  But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”            (Luke 8:9-14)

Both of the individuals had defects. However, the Pharisee tried to hide his defects behind a mask of piety and self-righteousness. The publican (tax collector) freely admitted his defects and went away justified (holy) before God.

3.  Wounded HealerJesus with Nail print in hand

The term came originally from Carl Jung suggesting that out of the woundedness of a psychologist, comes the desire to help others who are wounded. However, more than providing a motivation for healing, woundedness also empowers healing.

In Henri Nouwen’s book” The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society,”

A wounded healer is someone who can listen to a person in pain without having to speak about his or her own wounds. When we have lived through a painful depression, we can listen with great attentiveness and love to a depressed friend without mentioning our experience. Mostly it is better not to direct a suffering person’s attention to ourselves. We have to trust that our own bandaged wounds will allow us to listen to others with our whole beings. That is healing.

In Isaiah 53, the Suffering Servant is described as one who by whose stripes we are healed.

Wounds are essentially defects… defects that help us care for the wounds of others.

4.  Kintsukuroi.  (Golden Repair)

I have discussed this before in a couple of blogs:kintsukuroi

Blog #1

Blog #2

Additionally, I have a blog on a related topic, Wabi-Sabi

The idea is that there is greater beauty and craftsmanship in a beautiful repair than in hiding damage. Likewise, in a person, the power of God is demonstrated more clearly in scars, rather than their absence. This may remind one of Jesus who in His resurrected form had scars of His crucifixion as evidence of God’s power to heal– giving us hope of such healing.

5.  Chipped Cup100_1296

As a final thought, consider the following quote:

“The pride of the cup is in the drink, its humility in the serving. What, then do its defects matter?” -Dag Hammarskjöld