The last six weeks have been full of many unexpected surprises, and this week’s surprise was that I a radio station interviewed me about my struggle with alcohol and how the church should respond. The radio station read my article from Relevant Magazine, and they reached out to me about hearing more of my story.
You can hear the interview HERE.
The interview gives a very summarized version of my struggle with alcohol, some thoughts on secrets and freedom, and what I would say to someone struggling with secret addictions.
As a slight point of clarification (the full interview was about 20 minutes and they cut it down to around five), when asked when my struggle with alcohol began, I reference incidents from 9 to 12 years ago. These were isolated incidents which set patterns in my life for how I would deal with stress. This was not when my addiction took control.
Please give it a listen!
This morning, shortly before church started, I was surprised and saddened to see a headline which felt all too familiar.
If you’re unfamiliar, Perry Noble founded NewSpring Church roughly 16 years ago and, in that time, the church has grown to be one of the largest churches in the country. Noble himself has a reputation for being just as infamous as he is famous in church circles. While many have been inspired by his books, sermons, conference messages, and leadership podcast, just as many have been turned off by his rockstar personality and “creative” attraction evangelism techniques (They once played “Highway to Hell” as an opener on Easter).
While I’ve never met Perry Noble, I’m fairly familiar with his church and ministry (especially his leadership podcast). His story feels especially personal to me since, just four Sundays ago, my own church announced my resignation related to alcohol. Both Noble and NewSpring released official statements about his removal, and they both ring far too close to home for me right now.
in the past year or so I have allowed myself to slide into, in my opinion, the overuse of alcohol. This was a spiritual and moral mistake on my part as I began to depend on alcohol for my refuge instead of Jesus and others. I have no excuse – this was wrong, sinful and I am truly sorry.
I’m by no means an expert on alcoholism or failure in ministry. I have no inside information about Perry Noble or NewSpring, but I can offer the perspective of someone going through something somewhat similar (though far smaller in scale).
How do you respond when someone in ministry fails?
For the past eight years, I have been the associate pastor at my local church, but that all came to an end a month ago after I confessed my struggle with alcohol to the church’s elder board. Within a few days of my confession, I had officially resigned and, that Sunday, my resignation was announced to the church body.
The time leading up to my resignation was plagued by a series of starts and stops in regards to drinking. I knew when I drank, I drank too much, but my mind kept telling me each time I started drinking that this time it would be different. It never was. I could never drink just one night. I could never drink just one drink. When I drank, I always wanted more.
Throughout my addiction, I was largely alone for one simple reason:
I was afraid.
Then, within less than 24 hours, news outlets and everyone’s Facebook feeds exploded with divisive opinions on why this happened. Without even taking the time to fully process and grieve for the horrific acts as a culture, we immediately jumped straight to debating the cause and pointing fingers. While gun control debates following mass shootings are always divisive, it seems this debate has been particularly toxic.
This particular tragedy has sparked a shocking amount of finger pointing. Within days, there were articles blaming the incident on…
- Hillary Clinton
- Christians blamed by CNN contributor, ACLU attorney, gay activist, & NY professor
- Lack of gun control
- Gun free zones
The list goes on and on.
Should we really be surprised by this incident? Of course our hearts should be broken over the tragedy, but I’m not sure we should be surprised by tragedy. Human history repeating sends the message that mankind is cruel to fellow mankind. For all of the progress we’ve made as a species, we can’t overcome man’s inhumanity to man.
Even since I started writing this piece just a couple of days ago, another massacre occurred in Istanbul.
Living in a “civilized” culture gives us a false sense of security. It hides the true brutality and cruelty which lies within sinful hearts. These tragedies remind us of the damage and despair that sin brings.
It’s an interesting time of year for me. Around this time of year, the teenagers in our youth ministry are trained on how to share the Gospel, and they are then sent out into our community to lead backyard Bible clubs. At our church, we allow 6th-12th graders to participate. At first, this might seem like a terrible idea. Middle schoolers have a long history of being immature and childlike while wanting more autonomy. High schoolers, likewise, are known for their bad attitudes and even worse decision making skills. Yet, every single summer, these students amaze me with their energy, passion, and ability. Some of the best gospel presentations I’ve ever seen have come from teenagers with virtually no experience speaking in front of a crowd.
While it’s so easy to come up with 1,000 reasons why any given high schooler will do a terrible job at presenting the Gospel, the reality is that they have incredible potential to do eternal things…and so do you!
You Have Incredible Potential…
With the risk of sounding too much like a motivational speaker, if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ, you have incredible potential!
We live in a world which bases value and worth on standards that are literally unachievable. When we think about our potential for achievement or beauty, we’re bombarded by magazine covers featuring photoshopped celebrities promising impossible results.
If you measure your potential based on the world’s expectations, you will likely find yourself discouraged. But, your potential was never meant to be judged based on comparisons and superficial standards.
You were fearfully and wonderfully made to be you, and here are three reasons you have incredible potential:
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.