The root of the problem

A lady was sharing her woes with my wife in the changing room at the gym. Her problem was simple. She had to keep dying her hair every couple of weeks, or the roots would start to show.

And this is a pretty decent description of how people handle more serious problems in their lives too. We coat our issues with something that makes them disappear, but before too long they all come back. The reason, of course, is that the roots of our problems have never been dealt with.

A frequent mistake in pastoral care is to treat the symptoms rather than the cause. An over-the-counter painkiller will deal with an ordinary headache, but it won’t do anything much for a brain tumour.

Why do we so often avoid dealing with the roots of our problems? The obvious reason is that it is simpler and far more palatable to take an acetaminophen than to have brain surgery. But when things get worse, we usually have the sense to consult a doctor, who will tell us the truth. Doctors do that because if they don’t, it may cost us our life and them their licence to practice medicine.

Sometimes church leaders don’t want to address the roots, and sometimes don’t even want to treat the symptoms. After all, people might get mad at them. But church should be the place of God’s shalom, the place where his peace that brings healing of body, soul and spirit is released to set people free.

It won’t happen, though, unless we get past the symptoms and start dealing with the roots. Those doing the counselling need to take the risk of offending people. The worst thing that can happen is they walk away, go to someone else’s church and become someone else’s responsibility to deal with. But who knows, they might get healed!

And those suffering from chronic issues which just never seem to go away need to stop blaming everyone in the world but themselves, and start looking in the mirror instead. No matter what someone else did to you, the solution begins with you facing up to it. But you’ll need help to do that.

We have been struck over and over by the incredible brokenness suffered by so many people. We have heard heart-breaking and almost unbelievable stories of mistreatment and even abandonment as children, things that take a toll on people the rest of their lives.

But our task is still to bring healing. Jesus was never deterred by brokenness, even when what must have happened to a man as a child led to his being possessed by a legion of demons.

As a representative of the King of Kings, I have one thing to stand on. There is nothing beyond his power. And, by sheer grace, he allows that power to work through you and me.

May God help us to be true doctors of the soul. Where others use bandaids, may we use the mighty weapons of the Word and the Spirit to set men and women free. No matter what their hurt has been.

Photo by Camille / Kmile on Unsplash




Foundation of Faith Project  is strengthening generations in faith and bringing beautiful changes to the communities around them. Through teaching, mentoring and coaching, many are finding out who they are and who they are destined to be.  They are bringing more to their world. David Campbell is the key leader in this initiative and you can support him financially directly through Awakening Ministries.

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