Life has a way of teaching us unforgettable lessons. For example, we’re told a thousand times, “Don’t touch that!” or “Put on your coat!” but once we experience a burned finger or a touch of frostbite, we don’t have to be told again . . . lesson learned. In many ways, life is like a classroom. Parents are our first professors, and in spite of their best efforts, life experience often leaves its deepest marks.
Chuck Swindoll and Steve Fischer hold excellent, respectable graduate degrees, and their ministries reach around the world. But both men will say it has been life experiences—not seminary training—that has best prepared and qualified them for their work. Both men agree: strong theological training is vital for ministry, but to be qualified for soul work requires first-hand, personal experience with pain. Regrettably, many people in ministry today have adequate knowledge but cannot connect with those in their care. Reason being: these ministers haven’t been crushed; therefore, they often cannot fully relate to those who have been crushed.
Here’s how we can learn to care for the soul—lessons learned in the crucible of life.
Watch the Interview
- What are the circumstances that led to the loss of your daughter?
- What happened when you and your wife agreed to stop trying to find a diagnosis to your daughter’s condition?
- Chuck’s additional question: Did you find when you were at seminary—having had that background experience for so many years—that it played a special role in the direction you were going?
- How are things different for your family after the death of your daughter?
- Chuck’s additional question: Did loosing Payton make you a different parent?
- Does your personal tragedy make you a better pastor?
- What should a Christian do for someone who is grieving?
- What is the value of establishing a relationship with someone while counseling him or her?
- Why should biblical counseling avoid being formulaic in its approach?
- Colleen’s additional question: How can a pastor incorporate compassionate, healing presence into his or her ministry without the experience of deep pain?
- How is the fact that we are all broken by sin actually freeing for us?
- How should the church come alongside those who are hurting or caring for someone with special needs?
- How has having a grandchild with special needs changed your perspective?
- What does it mean to accept one’s situation with hope?
- Why must we accept the truth even when it is painful?
- What words do you have for someone suffering today?
- How is the knowledge that God is sovereign a comfort to the hurting?
Not one time in this interview did we hear the words easy, simple, smart, knowledge, and the like. What we did hear repeated were soul words: crushing, honesty, compassion, quietness, silence, God’s work, God’s will, God’s way, brokenness.
The truth is, soul change begins when we let go of trying to be impressive and get honest about our lives. You may be running from pain; stop running . . . or stop trying to fix someone you know who is running. Sit in the storm, allow it to rage, and ask God to help you hang on. You may know the Bible through and through, be a great teacher, seem to have all the answers but have never listened to your soul or it’s pain. Maybe the reason that those who are disabled or different bother you so much is because you have yet to accept your own weaknesses and brokenness.
Stop. Stop doing. Listen.
Listen to what your soul says when you ask yourself . . .
- What if they really knew this about me?
- Why do I think I have to have all the answers?
- Am I willing to give and sacrifice when no one is looking?
- Why can’t I sit with those who are hurting?
- What if I was in that wheelchair? (You might be someday, you know.)
- When was the last time I embraced someone hurting and said nothing?
- What has God used to crush me, and have I asked for help to heal?
Let Me Hear from You
To reach a lost world, we must have to experience being “lost” a time or two. If God is working in your life, if something said in this interview touched you, it’s time to reach out. If you have been wounded by an insensitive or arrogant leader, I’m so sorry. There’s work to be done in your soul too. Isn’t it time to get real . . . to recognize you don’t have all the answers.
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About Steve Fischer
Steve currently serves as the pastor of Care Ministries at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. Prior to serving at Stonebriar, Steve was in private practice in Plano, Texas, as a licensed professional counselor. In 1998, Steve earned a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. Steve also has a Master of Science degree in Physiology. Prior to entering the ministry, Steve worked as the director of Health and Wellness for the Texas Association of Texas Instruments and the director of Outpatient Cardiology Services for Methodist Hospitals of Memphis, Tennessee.
Steve has been married to his wife Melanie for 30 years. Melanie is the executive vice president of Encompass Home Health. Encompass is a home health company that serves patients, families, and providers with a better way to care for the lives of special needs children and their families. Steve and Melanie have four children: Brittney, Payton, Anna, and Alexandra. Steve’s second daughter, Payton, has lived with our Lord since 1995. Payton was born with multiple medical problems and lived five years before passing away in the arms of Steve and Melanie in their home on the morning of April 19, 1995.
About Chuck Swindoll
Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the accurate, practical teaching and application of God’s Word and His grace. A pastor at heart, Chuck has served as senior pastor to congregations in Texas, Massachusetts, and California. Since 1998, he has served as the founder and senior pastor-teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, but Chuck’s listening audience extends far beyond a local church body. As a leading program in Christian broadcasting since 1979, Insight for Living airs in major Christian radio markets around the world, reaching people groups in languages they can understand. Chuck’s extensive writing ministry has also served the body of Christ worldwide and his leadership as president and now chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary has helped prepare and equip a new generation of men and women for ministry. Chuck and Cynthia, his partner in life and ministry, have four grown children, ten grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.