Are We Shooting Our Wounded?
This Sunday our preaching minister, Doug Peters, used an illustration from a horse training contest he came across recently in his message. He said this group of trainers was competing to see who could train a team of horses to pull an incredible load the farthest. The trainer whose team could pull the immense burden the greatest distance would be considered the “top trainer”.
According to Doug, the training regimen these horses went through was brutal. Often during the process of learning to carrying these incredible loads, horses would get injured. Those horses that came up lame were simply put down. A harsh reality of the horse world, I suppose.
As I was sitting in church taking in the message, my mind turned to our own people. On any given Sunday, our pews are packed with people carrying burdens. Health concerns. Family issues. Personal struggles. Financial woes. And many more. We serve communities of walking wounded. This question immediately came to mind:
Are we shooting our wounded?
When we look at someone who is spiritually, physically, or emotionally ‘injured’, how do we see them? Are we optimistic about their recovery? Or, are they in line to be ‘put down’?
Before you answer this question for your own church, consider that ‘shooting our wounded’ isn’t necessarily something that we do. An equally devastating response to someone carrying a burden is to do nothing at all. We are more likely to ignore, alienate, and neglect our injured than we are to actively reject, demean, or discriminate against them. And the excuse that “we didn’t know” isn’t good enough. We should know. Keep that in mind.
But here’s my real point: How many of our members are carrying burdens alone? How many are secretly shouldering a load that is far too much for them to bear?
My guess is that many of them fear being ‘shot’ by the faith community around them. They’re flawed. Damaged goods. Beyond repair. At least that’s what they’ve been conditioned to believe. And the fact that this fear persists in their minds and motivates them to suffer in silence should be adequate proof that we’re not doing enough. We are not doing what is necessary to reassure them, to let them know that their community of faith is at the ready to help them heal rather than quietly put them down.
What are you doing to create a culture of safety for those who are hurting?
How have you been successful at reassuring your members that, when they are wounded, they are in a place of healing?
Where have you fallen short?