Speaker: Pastors Must Experience Healing, Too

Post a Comment » Written on February 1st, 2006     
Filed under: News
By Stan Friedman

ROSEMONT, IL (February 1, 2006) – Ministers must make the painful journey of “honest self-awareness” to healing if they are to be excellent pastors, Aleese Moore-Orbih told the gathering for the Tuesday night worship service during the Midwinter Pastors Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

“We cannot lead our congregations to freedom and liberation, and healing from pain and from shame, unless we ourselves are willing to make that journey,” Moore-Orbih said. Project director for Advocacy for Victims of Abuse (AVA) of Women Ministries and a former pastors, she told the gathering of 1,000 that “It’s easy to run a church – it’s easy to run a church – without God.” All that is needed is the equivalent of making sure the proper pieces are in place.

Degrees and good ministry and management skills “make a good pastor,” she said. “But until we factor in a quality walk with Christ, excellence in pastoral ministry doesn’t happen.”

Preaching from 1 Cor. 11:1 (“Be ye followers of me even as I also am of Christ”), she suggested that pastors lead by example. Grand theological exposition did not make Paul an excellent pastor. “It was his pursuit of love and grace.”

Congregations want – and need – to see living examples of that passion today, Moore-Orbih said. “One who they can trust and follow and who allows God to lead and teach and care for them. They don’t want people who can just preach Psalm 23. “They want pastors who will live out the 23rd psalm.”

Moore-Orbih asked questions of how pastors can minister to people who have been abused, molested, raped, and shamed and who have been sinned against. Realizing that every person carries a wound is essential, she answered.

Every person feels deficient in some way and experiences “toxic shame, a traumatic experience that we’re never able to get past,” Moore-Orbih said. Ministers need to be honest about that pain and share it with God in order “to press on with our upward call with our frailties and failures behind us.”

Jesus promised abundance, Moore-Orbih said, but added ministers can’t experience it, “if we are constantly hiding from our pain and shame.”

“Don’t be afraid to look deep into your souls and admit that you have those wounds,” Moore-Orbih said, because they can be sure that God can heal anything. There is no predetermined, one-size-fits-all technique to experience that healing, Moore-Orbih said. “What God wants me to tell you is that pastoral excellence is on the other side of the door – you only need open it.”

She added that some ministers will need to talk to professional counselors, others will need spiritual advisors, and others simply need a friend who can be trusted with confidentiality. “But we all need to tell Jesus.”

“I pray that we will be able to stand in our pulpits on Sunday and say to our congregations, “Follow me even as I follow Christ,” she said. Throughout her sermon, she demonstrated the words of Ruth Hill, executive minister of Women Ministries, who introduced her by saying, “I see in her such a passion, such a compassionate heart for those who are wounded.

“I have to say I love being in the Covenant,” Moore-Orbih continued. “I hope none of us take it for granted – those of us born into the Covenant, raised in the Covenant, adopted into the Covenant, married into the Covenant. Don’t let it get like an old marriage,” she said to considerable laughter.

Her sermon was preceded by music that included several rousing pieces by the North Park University Gospel Choir. Natalie Rivera sang “World on Fire” while a video played that showed how relatively little it costs to bring hope to the lives of those in extreme poverty around the world.

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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