A Guide to Fearful People

I went back and re-read The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen this morning. It's a short book, dated in some ways (he calls Gen-X "the Nuclear Man"), but intensely helpful. I'd write a more extensive summary of it, but I have to go and coach soccer in a few minutes.

One quote jumped off the page for me today, as it has every time I've read this book:
No minister can save anyone. He can only offer himself as a guide to fearful people.
So much of the work of ministry gets into the scrum and scruff of our broken world, painful relationships, and desperate situations. I frequently feel the tug to stop pointing to the Savior and to start being the Savior. I want to help. I want to solve problems. I want to heal.

There's only one Savior.

Accepting this truth gives us limits. It shapes our ministry. We do what we can with what we have, but the work of salvation is beyond us.

We need a Savior, but we also need guides. Guides help us press through our fear. Guides show us that help has come, help is here, and help is on the way. Guides enter into the loneliness of our journey and walk with us through it.

I keep circling back to Nouwen's quote because I keep being tempted to be a Savior. I keep circling back because I actually love being just a guide. I keep circling back because I need to remember that the ministers in my life make great guides and lousy Saviors.

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