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When Healing Becomes an Idol

By September 22, 20085 Comments

Well I’m back from the Kaleo Conference and it went great! I made some new friends and was greatly encouraged by the other speakers who were there! It was a really wonderful experience and I was blessed to be a part of it.

Perhaps the highlight of the weekend, however, were the shirts we leaders had to wear. Picture this–long-sleeve, button-down collared DENIM! That’s right, denim. I have not worn a denim shirt since I was in 6th grade (when they were cool) so this became a tool for God to humble me over the course of the weekend. Every time I put it on, I felt as though I’d been instantly morphed into a soccer mom from the 90’s. My other option was to tie the shirt-tails around my mid-section and look like a character on Saved By the Bell. Either way, I was not a happy camper–that is until one of the other female speakers totally called me out for being vain. And I was. After all, God can speak through anything–even denim shirts. 😉

But back to the conference itself. As I mentioned, I was speaking about Unique Issues for Women in Ministry. It was a fantastic topic and I really enjoyed exploring it with young ladies discerning a call to ministry. I received a lot of insightful questions and had some challenging conversations.

We covered a lot of material, but the one thing that seemed to resound the most with the women I taught was the idea that women’s ministry is utterly preoccupied with healing. If you walk into a Christian bookstore and go to the women’s section, you will find stacks and stacks of books related to healing–maybe it’s self-esteem, family relationships, sustaining your marriage, being a good mom, feeling ok with being single, and the list goes on.

Similarly, most of the preeminent women’s ministers today will begin their messages by sharing their testimonies of hardship and pain from their pasts. Many of them have suffered greatly due to abuse or neglect, and they are now helping women to crawl out of that pit and live whole lives.

All of which is good.

However, there is a dangerous temptation here–when the focus is on healing, healing can become the ultimate goal. We can slowly and subtly slip into thinking that God is here for us, as opposed to us being here for God. And we can become extremely self-focused.

Granted, this doesn’t happen to all Christian women, but this preoccupation with healing constitutes a large trend in women’s ministry today, and it is part of the reason, I believe, that women are not serving God as effectively as they could be.

In response to this trend, I urged the women to arm themselves with theology. And by that I mean “the study of God,” which is what the word literally means. We need to ingrain our hearts and minds with truth such that we can effectively combat the lies that our emotions feed us about ourselves and the people around us.

And when this happens, when we stop being consumed by our thought lives and by the things that wounded us in the past, we are suddenly set free to serve. Instead of walking into the Christian bookstore and heading directly for the self-help aisle, we are free to study spiritual disciplines and to educate ourselves in ways that will inspire us to action.

What’s more, action distracts us from a preoccupation with ourselves, and is therefore an important part of healing. Rather than mulling over the things that bother us, we fill that mental void with thoughts about Christ and ways to pursue him more passionately.

For all of these reasons, we must not stop at healing. Yes, healing is important, and I am so grateful for the countless female ministers who have helped women throughout the world to overcome their pasts, but healing is not the end. God created us to serve Him, not the other way around, so we must pursue healing only for the sake of freeing ourselves to follow Him more radically. Healing is only a tool we use as we equip ourselves to fight in the spiritual battle that wages around us.


  • Carrie Ross says:


    I was at Kaleo this weekend and attended one of your sessions. Thank you for taking the time to be there and minister to myself and many other young ladies. I have come back with a challenge to more diligently pursue theology and apply it to being a woman called to ministry.

    And I am quite excited to have another blog to read, especially one written to encourage others and glorify God!

    Carrie Ross

  • Deanna says:

    I loved your post today about women’s ministry. I feel myself “preaching to the choir” of my friends about this same topic. Thanks for the encouraging word!

  • Natalie says:

    I really like this! It challenges me not to dwell on my past and the hurt that I have suffered because of it. Instead, I am reminded to keep my focus on Christ and never on myself.

  • Kristen says:

    this is such a great article; thank you for writing it!

  • Joanna says:

    The other risk of the healing obsession, especially since many women love to talk about stuff a lot is that it ends up resulting in going over and over the problems a lot more times than is healthy. This can end up delaying the healing because the wounds are kept open rather than helping it.

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