Man to Man: An Interview With Donald Miller
- Monday, May 08, 2006
CW: Do you think any man can become a wounded healer? And what advice would you give a man who feels unqualified to heal or mentor?
Miller: I think any man can become a wounded healer, especially guys who grew up without dads. So much of my story is about not knowing. I remember believing - in my senior year of high school - actually believing that I was stupid, that my brain didn't work as well as other people's brains worked. And it wasn't until I had a teacher who basically pointed out that I was intelligent (I had written an article) that I learned I was a good writer. In other words, it wasn't until somebody outside myself said hey, you're intelligent, that I could actually believe that. So I began reading, and of course that's what I do today, I read and think and pray. But it took somebody else telling me. So I think there are people who think, "Oh, I could never lead, I could never [mentor]," but that's not true, it's really not true, and what we need to do is step in and give affirmation and keep moving forward. If we act "as if," sometimes the "as if" becomes true; you just have to keep doing that in faith. So yes, any broken man can become a wounded healer. No matter how badly you're broken, God can use you to heal other people's lives, whether you know it or not.
CW: Regarding feelings of stupidity or worthlessness, you admit in the book that you still sometimes struggle with thinking your words are "just going to be another burden on the world's library."
Miller: It's always something that you fight, but more and more I'm trying to just get over that, and say this is an ability that to some degree God has given me, and use the opportunity that God has given me. I need to stand up and I need to use it, and receive what He's given.
CW: Your previous answer about qualification reminds me of a Christian camp director who was fond of saying that God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. To use your terms, you might not even know you're in a situation to be a healer or mentor. I just find that very interesting that you would say you may not even know you're doing it.
Miller: I know, there's no question. We're having a dramatic effect on each other's lives and we have no idea that we really are. Aren't the people who have affected our lives the ones who have the most confidence that what they say and do matters? The people who have the confidence to come to us and say, "Hey, you did a great job and I'm proud of you"? Those are the people who have the most dramatic effect on our lives. But if you think about it from our perspective, we always say, "No, no, we wouldn't dare, and who am I to say I'm proud of somebody?" We need to get over that and realize that what we say matters, and we need to own that responsibility. We need to affirm people and speak into their lives.
CW: If that doesn't happen, do you think there are life lessons or self-beliefs that a boy just won't get without a father? If so, which ones?
Miller: The biggest one is that he is affirmed and loved. Not going to learn that without a dad. Probably not going to learn it well without a mom, for that matter. It's just a necessary component of upbringing to our well-being, to have a father say, "You're loved, I love you, I care about you." I long for that every day. I wish I had a dad who would say that. I'm 34, and I still want that. It's not going to go away. There are other people who do that in our lives and that's great, and everybody walks around with some sort of pain, some sort of wound, so I'm not playing the victim card here, but that's the big one.
Then there are all sorts of lessons that we see, like the 85 percent of guys in prison who grew up without fathers. 85 percent. That's an enormous percentage, and those are the ones who had no father in their home. If you think about the ones who had a bad father, you're up over 95 percent. Only about 1 percent of all the men in prison had good father figures in their homes. That means if every father in America didn't leave his family and cared about his kids, our prison population would be about 1 percent of what it is now. This is an enormous issue!
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