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Wounded-leade-smallToo many churches are led by wounded pastors and leaders who can’t really love people, can’t be vulnerable or focus on the future because of past rejection and hurt. But there is healing for wounded leaders!

There are a lot of things that wound us in life. Maybe you were wounded because somebody lied to you. Maybe a promise was made to you that was broken. Or maybe you were in a conflict with a church member or fellow leader.

In that conflict, some angry words were said, and you were deeply wounded. Maybe you were wounded by a betrayal, by rejection or by being misunderstood. You may have been wounded by being devalued, overlooked or not valued enough. And you can be wounded by loneliness.

There are a lot of things in life that wound you, but God says, "I need you to let go of these things. Get them out of the garbage bag and throw them over the cliff so you don’t have to deal with them anymore."

David said in Psalm 109, “My heart is wounded within me.” Internal wounds are always more serious than external wounds—always. Emotional wounds always take longer to heal than physical wounds.

You don’t remember the cuts and the scrapes and the bruises physically that you got on the playground as a kid. But you remember the cutting words that were said to you as a child, such as the things that were said to you by bullies or neighbors or parents in anger or your brother or sister or a teacher. You were labeled, and it hurt. Why do we remember them? Because we rehearse them in our minds and we go over and over and over them.

Here’s a wise truth to remember: The people who hurt you in the past can no longer hurt you unless you choose to allow them to do so. Every time you rehearse it, you’re still allowing somebody in your past to control your present.

Psalm 37:8 says, “Let go of anger and leave your rage behind. Do not be preoccupied. It only leads to evil.” Resentment and bitterness result from holding on to your hurt and being preoccupied with it. Don’t let your mind repeatedly return to the scene of the crime. Don’t become preoccupied.

You can’t face the future with confidence if you’re always rehearing and rehashing and reacting to the past. It’s impossible. You can’t get on with your ministry if you’re still living in the past and you’re holding on to hurts.

What hurts from your past do you need to shut the door on so you can focus on the people God has given to you to minister to today? You need to say, "I’m never going to bring them up again. I’m going to dwell on the future." You’ve got to let go of your wounds.

How do you do that? How do you let go of your wounds? The only way to let go of your wounds is forgiveness. There is no other antidote to your hurt and pain.

You might say, “But they don’t deserve to be forgiven!” Neither did you, and yet God has forgiven you. You don’t forgive people because they deserve it. You forgive people for two or three reasons: One, God says to do it. Two, God has forgiven you. And three, it’s the only way to let go of your pain.

Resentment doesn’t hurt them. It hurts you. Job 18:4 says, “You are only hurting yourself with your anger.”  You’ve got to release it for your own good. You’ve got to let it go.

What past hurt do you need to decide to forgive today so that you can move on and lead from a healthy place?

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

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