Well or Whole – Whats the Difference?

I Don’t Want to be Well But I do Want to be Whole.


Of course I want to be well it’s just that I’d rather be whole, if push comes to shove – and it does.

What is well?  It is a life largely enjoyed by the young without physical impediment and free of disease.  Equally it isn’t something that lasts for most through the years.  What is whole?  It is a growing internal health and congruence, space within and self knowledge – that sort of thing.  This is available to all regardless of age, although it tends to come with age.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:16 that, “Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.”

‘Well’ is well and good, unwell isn’t enviable. ‘Well’ is a laudable goal where what you can do or not do makes a difference, and so we should but it’s not always enough and how will we live if ‘well’ is threatened or alludes us?  Our responses can lead us to ‘whole.’

1 Timothy 4:7-8.  “Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness.  Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is more important, for it promises reward in both this life and the next.”

‘Well’ is the unashamed paraded in your face goal of this world; ‘whole’ is that of another world, a lasting world – it lasts, that’s the point.  Paul was accustomed to weakness but he was profoundly whole.  His life was Christ.  2 Corinthians 13:4, “Although he died on the cross in weakness, he now lives by the mighty power of God.  We too, are weak, but we live in him and have God’s power.”  See also 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 and Galatians 4:13-15 where Paul specifically states he was sick when he first brought the Good News of ‘wholeness’ to the Galatians.

We should do our best to be ‘well’ but we should do everything to be ‘whole’ with emotional strength, richness of character, capacity to triumph in difficulty, with humour in the soul, and tenderness and compassion.

Pain can make us ‘whole’ whereas it’s unlikely that it will make you well – not in the short term at least.  My lovely wife Helen was sick with cancer for 5 years; she wasn’t ‘well’ but she was certainly ‘whole,’ remarkably so – more than most who are ‘well,’ untroubled by disease or grief.

We need and should eat well, exercise and live well to be ‘well.”

But we must love, have hope, repent, believe, and sacrifice to be ‘whole.’

I don’t want to be well but I do want to be whole.


About simondmcintyre

Husband, Father, Grandfather, Minister, Company Director, Writer, Leader of C3 London. Director C3 Europe. View all posts by simondmcintyre

One response to “Well or Whole – Whats the Difference?

  • Jenna L

    There’s a great theme in your last two posts, funny, last night Ps Eric Harrison preached from Revelation about the Church at Smyrna “though outwardly poor, you are rich.. ” we have all we need (and more!) in him. If a person can seek that. I like how well you’ve defined wholeness and success. Why do we find this out more as we get older? The irony and grace of God! …and its true youth is terribly wasted on kids.

    I’m an oncology nurse – so I certainly relate to the wholeness aspect of your post and while I’ve never been a high flyer – I’m finding out so much more about success nowadays… approaching 50 !! Thanks also to good leaders, preachers and teachers up the road like yourselves. Bless you !

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