God longs to give us a bigger vision for our lives and ministries, one that’s far beyond our preoccupations or periodic struggles with sexual distractions.
When I first start working with someone, our focus is almost always on sobriety. That is, it’s on stopping the life-draining behaviors. It’ll get us started, but that motivation isn’t going to sustain over the long haul. Let’s take a look at just some of the more tangible big-picture motivators for being on this path over time.
Freedom from the guilt of being caught or the consequences of future poor choices. When we’re in the middle of it, we often don’t realize the burden we bear from our sin struggle. It’s only when we gain some distance from it that we realize the weight we were carrying. The unburdened life under Jesus’ yoke is very different than the burden of our sin struggle. A life free of secrets withheld from our most intimate relationships encourages us to remain on the path.
Less preoccupation with sexual temptation. The more we practice the principles of recovery, the greater the confidence we have to continue doing so and to more quickly return to the path when we stray. It doesn’t prevent us from making mistakes; but it does give us the confidence to know how to more quickly recognize when we’ve strayed and more quickly return to the path. This discipline also trains us to recognize detours ahead of choosing them, resulting in increased confidence to not choose them in the future.
Greater respect from our wives. When they see something different about path we’re now on, they’ll have more respect for us. This will also help them to develop a growing confidence in their ability to trust us moving forward. We can’t force their trust, but we can become more trustworthy men. It will be up to them to choose to trust us, but they can’t make us more trustworthy. That’s our job.
Increased support through close relationships with men who really know us. The benefits of this countercultural path among Christian leaders is difficult to overestimate. The synergy that comes from having a few men who really know us, warts and all, is tremendous. In addition, living openly among these relationships circumvents shame and steals a significant tool the enemy so often uses to torpedo Christian leaders.
Stronger confidence in our ministry calling. This “being known” approach to life and ministry can lead to dramatic results. What would life be like if we had no fear from guilt, shame and the possible consequences from our sin? What if we had genuine respect from our wives and a few close Christian brothers who really knew us? Such freedom can result in a greater confidence to do the unique things God has called us to do in our marriages, our families and our ministries.
Ability to more boldly speak from the full weight of our true voice. This is where we can truly fulfill our destinies as Christian leaders. Our ability to leave a unique footprint for others to follow is partly dependent on our ability to humbly own our broken path, allowing God to use it much like he did that little boy’s loaves and fishes with Jesus.
We can’t imagine what God wants to do with our lives if we’re willing to let him use our lives, including our brokenness, for his glory. We’re not necessarily talking thousands of Twitter followers and people crowding the stage after an altar call. But we can have deep impact on the lives of those people that God puts in our sphere of influence. Whether a few or tens of thousands, God has the ability to do transformative work through us in the lives of others if we’re willing first to go through our own transformation. It might be painful for a while, but I’ve seen God tell some real God stories from our willingness to lay it on the line.
From Unburdened by Michael Todd Wilson, forthcoming from InterVarsity Press in September 2015. Copyright (c) 2015 by Michael Todd Wilson. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press.