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Almost all of us have made hospital visits in which we were required to scrub your hands and put on a mask and gown to enter the room. Those preventative measures indicate one of two scenarios: either you are a potential threat to the patient (inadvertently carrying germs that could harm them in their vulnerable state), or that the patient’s condition might pose a communicable threat to you.

Recently I sat across a small conference table and heard the story of a wounded leader. He and his wife carry a deep infection of bitterness. They feel wronged and are simply not able to move past this season of what they would describe as injustice. I listened. Their story is compelling. They are not faking their pain nor reliving it just to get sympathy. But they do want justice and compensation.

The previous two paragraphs can seem disconnected, except when you realize that the effects of emotional injury can be just as real, just as toxic and just as deadly to a ministry or a marriage as any physical issue can be. If there were an intensive care unit for injured and infected leaders, the beds would be full. Instead, we discover that the walking wounded are not isolated—they live among us!

Wouldn’t it seem right that we would have a driving passion to get people healthy again? Shouldn’t a primary focus be on making sure the environment gives the unhealthy person a fighting chance to recover? The answers are yes, and yes! But challenges to recovery can be twofold: the person (patient) may refuse to submit to the prescribed course of recovery, or the help that he or she should receive from others is inadequate—and sometimes, even more injurious.

It’s been said that people who are drowning will often take their potential rescuers down with them because of their desperation. Lifeguards are trained to respond appropriately and they understand that there are inherent dangers in saving a life. But they don’t throw out anchors; instead, they throw out life preservers. Be on the alert—and wise—for those who have inadvertently gotten overwhelmed by the waves of life. Be alert because someone’s life may desperately need your intervention, but wise because the life you save may be your own!

“Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the Lord that man gets justice.” -Proverbs 29:26 (NIV)

served as the president of The Foursquare Church from 2009-2020.

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