Compromised Leaders

Prevent Recovery Burnout

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This is a great article I read on the Covenant Eyes blog.  A good reminder, and good encouragement.  Enjoy:

Porn Addiction Recovery: 5 Ways to Avoid Burnout

Last week I was having an informal conversation with one of my accountability partners. Our chat flowed through normal catch-up material and soon the quintessential question arose: How are you doing with pornography?

Having anticipated this, I delivered a rehearsed answer, one that gave the truth but left out the true emotions that ran underneath the surface: I was getting tired of the fight. Truly, I was exhausted, and down to the core I knew that I needed to speak up. I started to say things like, “I am tired of this being so hard,” “Isn’t it supposed to get easier as time goes on,” and even “I don’t think it’s worth all these sacrifices anymore.”

As I heard myself speak, I started to understand that I had hit a point that many before me had warned me about: recovery burn-out. In my discussions with those who are battling addictions of many kinds, I have observed that almost all suffer with this in some context.

At the beginning of one’s recovery, the desire to make a change and be free from that addiction fuels them, driving them forward with a determination to gain back control of their life. Everything is hard, but they were warned of this, and they have the necessary support (therapists, accountability partners, friends, etc.) to wrestle through the withdrawal stage.

Now fast-forward to a few months or even years down the road. Are they still surrounded with support, or even seeking out help? Are they still as dedicated to their recovery as they were in the beginning? Honestly, it depends on the person, but too often I find that many (including myself) get tired of asking for help.

I hear in my own head too often, “You were supposed to be over this by now, so get a handle on it without bringing anyone else into this mess.” I know that I am not alone in these angst-filled contemplations, because many times the process of recovery is viewed as peak-and-dive, where the degree of difficulty peaks during the initial withdrawal and forming of healthy thought-patterns and habits, and then drastically declines with time. Instead, the recovery process looks a lot more jagged, with ups and downs in unpredictable configurations that cause frustration and feelings of hopelessness and defeat.

Why does this matter? Ultimately, it means that all of those in recovery and those helping need to have postures of grace that adequately take into account the long-term nature of recovering from pornography addiction. With any addiction, there should be the continual reminder that this most likely will be something that will be struggled with for years, if not for a lifetime. In my recovery, I have found some thought-patterns and practical ideas that have helped me survive the reality of this long-term journey of overcoming.

1. Be realistic about the long haul.

A porn addiction is just that: an addiction. It means that this process most likely will be a temptation and a battle for months, years, if not a lifetime. When we hold ourselves to standards or expectations that demand complete deliverance from our addictions, we set ourselves up for failure.

Recovery is a process, and included in that will be many seasons of hardships, others of great success.  All of those seasons are a part of the the inclusive redemption of God’s story, no matter if this is something that we struggle with until our last day. We need to continually prepare our hearts for a battle that can be won, but a battle that will need new energy, motivation and strategy as time goes on and the circumstances of our lives change.

2. Find ways to channel that energy with a new hobby/idea.

Honestly, this has been one of the most helpful tips that I have found in my recovery process thus far. Find an interest, a hobby, a talent, and throw your energies into it.

The less time that we spend idle means that there is less time to fall into temptation. When I notice that I am having a harder week fighting temptation, I will work even harder to be intentional about what I do with my time. It makes an incredible difference in my life when I can be using so much of my frustration and angst into something productive, one that leads me away from pornography and promotes a healthy lifestyle at the same time.

3. Recognize that falling into sin may happen, but it does not discount the effort that has been taken in the recovery process thus far.

In my journey, It makes me so upset when I fall back into sin that I have already confessed and made the commitment to rid my life of. When I confessed my sin of watching pornography and found accountability, I finally felt like I could get rid my life of it. However, that process of healing did not happen in a continuous forward motion of resisting temptation. Too often, it meant that I would be resisting for a while and then eventually falling right back to where I was before I made that promise. Every time I found myself in a place of sin again, I felt more and more dejected and that the effort I had put in thus far was useless.

Yet, how beautiful is it that even when we make a commitment to resist sin and yet fall into it again, we have a God that welcomes us with open arms. His relentless love does not hold a limit of the amount of times we can fail before He begins to walk away.

In recovery, meditate on the truth that each day that is a victory! Each minute, hour, day, month is a testament to God’s strength that gives us determination. It is not about counting the number of days that we have resisted, but about the power of Jesus that weaves in our story, whether we have made it 1 day or 150, or made it a year and lost sight of the purpose for a day.

It is not a success countdown that allows us to go the distance, but a mentality and thought process that lives and breathes grace and victory.

4. Celebrate the little victories.

I already touched on this point a bit, but I want to emphasize just how important it is to this process. At the beginning, it seemed like I could not actually feel that I was winning the battle until I had reached a year without pornography. The problem was I did not make it that far. And during those times, I found no reason to celebrate that I had made it months without it.

It is critical that we learn to celebrate all the victories in this recovery, even the little ones. Did you resist going on the computer today because you were feeling tempted? Yeah, it might have been yesterday that you did not, but today you did! Were you able to make it a week without it? That is incredible! Find ways to be thankful in each and every step, however seemingly small.

God walks us through, and He gives us strength in the moment to overcome temptation. It has made my process full of much more joy when I am able to thank God for the minutes, hours, days, and months where He has walked in this with me.

5. Document the process.

It does not have to be anything fancy or creative. I have a friend who writes down on little pieces of paper the little victories or where she has seen God move in her battle against pornography. When she is feeling particularly disheartened, she reads a few of them to be reminded of God’s faithfulness in her journey.

Do whatever feels most comfortable for you and make sure you can come back to it in the future. What a blessing it is to be able to look at how God has provided for us before and be reminded that He can and will do that for us again.

Sometimes the relentless battle of fighting darkness seems too much to press on. Be encouraged that the power of Christ already has victory, and His strength will be sufficient for you. Whatever season you are in, however fall you have fallen or pushed through, God will provide for you. Find reason to celebrate in that!

What Fuels Your Addiction?

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desentWhy do I do what I do?

You may ask yourself this question.  However, you may be asking the wrong question

Your behaviors are not the source of the problem… it is your thoughts…

One of the first steps to recovering from an addiction is to correct negative ways of thinking and faulty or wrong belief systems.

In CBT, these are called negative schemas.  Changing how we think causes us to change what we believe.  Changing what we believe results in changes to our behaviors.  In my work with pornography addicts, one common goal is the attempt to repair and/or rebuild my clients’ worldview.

The following are ways of thinking that fuel [and perpetuate] sexual addictions.  Which of the following do you believe and tell yourself often?

  1. Normal sexual behaviors and desires are wrong.
  2. I am alone and no one will [or can] meet my needs.
  3. I must give in to sexual urges and desires they are too powerful for me to resist. [no choice]
  4. I am worthless, unlovable.
  5. I can only trust myself to meet my needs.
  6. My sexual needs are my most important needs.
  7. I am powerless to control my life. [I am not responsible for my actions]
  8. I am a dirty pervert.
  9. Others exist to meet my needs because I deserve it.
  10. Others entice me and I cannot help myself.  [I am not responsible for my actions]
  11. Others are here for my pleasure.
  12. If no one sees [what I do], it does not matter.
  13. If no one knows [what I do] it cannot hurt them.
  14. I cannot live without sexual release.
  15. I cannot live without my addiction.  [It is who I am]
  16. I am not hurting anyone by watching porn.
  17. It is nobody’s business what I do with my own body.
  18. I am not capable of handling my own life.
  19. I am unattractive, stupid, ugly, unlovable…
  20. I cannot be free…

If you believe any of the above statements, you are believing lies.  Seek truth.  Seek help.

Whether you are a Christian or not, you will eventually (if you haven’t already) realize that you do not have the strength to overcome your addiction on your own.  I challenge everyone to  Seek God for His help in this time; for He is the only true source of limitless help and strength.  If you don’t know Him, you can… right now.  Start Here:

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.  13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  (Romans 10:9-10; 13 NLT)

In addition to seeking the Lord, enlist the help of other people.  Admit it.  You have an addiction.  If you could quit you already would have quit.  You need help overcoming an addiction to pornography, and you need others to hold you accountable.  You may need someone to show you the path to recovery.  If so, please reach out to a local counselor/therapist with experience treating sexual addictions.  Start your journey to freedom… today.


If you are looking for help recovering, and live in the Upstate of SC, consider reaching out:

I currently serve as Counseling Pastor for a church in the upstate of South Carolina.  I hold a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Liberty University.  I am awaiting my scheduled time to sit for the SC LMFT-I licensing exam.

It is my goal to help rebuild broken lives and families from the inside-out through awakening and fostering a relationship with Jesus Christ. I specialize in helping men recover from addictions to sex and pornography.  I run a support group for recovering men on Wednesday nights at 6:30pm.

email: michaelwatsoncounseling@gmail.com

Sexual Sin in the Ministry

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The following article is shared from the blog at God over Porn:

For the last twenty years thousands of men from across America struggling with sexual sin have come to our intensive counseling workshop. Over half were pastors and missionaries.

I wish our experience was unique.

Several years ago a seminary professor told me: “We no longer ask our entering students if they are struggling with pornography, we assume every student is struggling. The question we ask: ‘How serious is the struggle?’”

One missions agency told me that 80% of their applicants voluntarily indicate a struggle with pornography, resulting in staff shortages on the field.

Pornography is just one level of sin, a form of visual sex, or heart adultery. Physical adultery includes an affair, multiple affairs, prostitution, and homosexuality. Other sexual behaviors within the ministry are such heinous “unfruitful works of darkness . . . it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret” (Ephesians 5:11–12). To face the crisis we must correctly understand the nature of the problem, ask God to search our own hearts, and be committed to restore each one caught in sexual sin “in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1).

I have pondered long and hard two questions: Why do people repeatedly return to sexual sin and why do people turn away from sexual sin?

LURED TOWARD SIN

First, I would say that after two decades of helping set free those held captive by sexual sin, I’m convinced that the concept of sexual addiction as a diseasedoes not fully identify the seriousness of the problem. If we are going to get serious about the problem in the church we can ill afford to be misled in our thinking. The real problem is hidden deep within. The least bit of lust is an indication of vast corruption in the human heart. It is an enslavement that cannot be broken through any form of behavior management, recovery program, or counseling. The inside is so ravaged by sin that we can do nothing to change it.

When one is held in the grip of sexual sin, there is no hope of self-reform or self-efforts, for those living according to the “passions of their flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind” (Ephesians 2:3). To put it bluntly, those living in habitual sexual sin are “dead in their trespasses and sin” (verse 1). Dead, in a loss of spiritual life. Dead to finding satisfaction with God. Dead to living for his purpose. Holiness is dead. Wisdom is dead. Purity is dead. Love is dead. Like David, the sexual sinner has sinned “against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13), and in so doing has “utterly scorned the Lord” (verse 14). The horrible fact is they are “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).

I believe addictionology plays down the seriousness of sin and the necessity of the work of God when it encourages the sexual addict to accept the theory that recovery will only be successful when they begin to believe that they are a good person at the core and just have a disease.

Diagnoses always determine the method of treatment. So ‘good’ people only need to get serious, follow the steps of recovery, and remain in recovery. The opposite is true. When dealing with sexual sin we must hold fast to the teaching of Jesus Christ, “For from within, out of the heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, . . . adultery” (Mark 7:21).

By nature and by choice we satisfy ourselves, rebel against God, and have no accurate understanding of the depth of our problem. The heart is deceptive, and without supernatural change it will grow worse. The only hope is “the grace of God . . . training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11–12).

Look closely and you will see that the sexual sinner is disappointed with pleasure in their pursuit of what is essentially false intimacy. As one pastor, who was living in two adulterous relationships, put it: “This was the insanity; I no sooner finished the sexual act and immediately broke into tears, devastated by what I had done, but I only returned again and again to the same sinful relationship.”

As sinners we are created with desires for intimacy and for delight. Therefore, “The way to fight lust is to feed faith with the precious and magnificent promise that the pure in heart will see, face to face, the all-satisfying God of glory” (Future Grace, 338).

Yet the sexual sinner, finding no pleasure in real intimacy with God, ultimately finds no pleasure in false intimacy. Real intimacy has both pain and pleasure; false intimacy offers the illusion of no pain, but in the end there is no real pleasure! A part of exchanging the “truth about God for a lie” (Romans 1:25) is that you end up with pleasure now, pain forever!

DESCENDING DECEPTION

Deception runs deeper than we think. Deception is inherent to the problem of sexual sin on two levels.

First, there is the double life with clandestine liaisons, endless hidden hours on a computer, or the misuse of unaccounted time away from the office or home. The behavior is carefully hidden from view, but there are lies, then more lies to cover the lies. Face the facts: the motive for secrecy is to keep doing it. But secrecy of sexual sin also indicates a person’s commitment to flee from the light. “And people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19).

The second level of deception is self-deception. If the heart is deceitful, it impacts the way we want to see the secret things in our lives, particularly secret sexual sins. The missionary can justify going to nude beaches; a pastor sees the value of an affair because it makes him happy; going to a prostitute on Monday is just a reward for hard work on Sunday.

When you say, “I will keep this part of my life a secret,” what are you hiding?

Hidden from view is a scandalous behavior that would certainly horrify any congregation or spouse. It is also a calculated contradiction of one’s public image that if revealed would bring ruin. It also may be a relationship that you believe is so fulfilling you can’t imagine ending it.

Everyone thinks they are hiding their acts of sin: lust, cheating, porn, and adultery. Such thinking makes it easier to justify the secrecy for the greater good of one’s marriage, family, ministry, job, and future. Such rationalization is universal to all secret sexual sin. “After all, a lot of people would be hurt if they knew what I was doing.” As one pastor put it, “I was in a six month affair, at the same time preaching and counseling against adultery, and telling myself that God didn’t care because the church was growing.”

In reality, it is not the behavior alone that is hidden.

Secret sexual sin is an invasive poison to the soul, mind and the body. It is a poison deep within the recesses of the soul that keeps one from finding satisfaction in God and meaningful intimacy with others. This is a poison that will kill not only in this life, but also life eternal! “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure . . . has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). Sexual behavior that is indistinguishable from the unbelieving world may indicate a person is not truly a child of God.

THE TURN FROM SIN

Why do people turn away from sexual sin?

In thousands of cases that I have counseled, only about one-percent of the men have come to us voluntarily and preemptively. Ninety-nine percent of the men were caught.

Getting caught in sexual sin doesn’t change the heart.

I can’t prove it, but I believe that God will providentially expose the secret sexual sin of his children.

It staggers our finite imagination that God will allow his chosen ones to go deep into brazen sexual sin, live in it for many years, and have so many people badly hurt. And no matter how difficult it is for spouses and church members to see it in the moment, God is at work when a pastor’s sin is exposed. Exposure is a sovereign act of God. God’s ways are not our ways! In all the vileness and rebellion against God that is a big part of sexual sin, exposure is showing us the perfect patience of Christ.

Many times I’ve been asked, “How can you keep dealing with such sinful men?” There are two reasons: First, I have seen over and over again the power of God to change the darkest sinner. Second, restoration with God is more important than anything. It is more important than career or marriage. God cares more for you, your soul, and your wife than he does your gifts and calling. You are his child before you are a pastor or a husband.

CONVICTION

After secret sexual sin is exposed we can make the mistake of focusing on the actions and attempt to eliminate behavior. We may be inadvertently feeding a false conviction rather than aiding true conviction.

False conviction is a reflex reaction caused by self-disgust, a sorrow over the consequences of sin. True conviction is an abiding sorrow over the offence against God, and while not the natural response, it does demonstrate that God has begun a good work that he will complete. True conviction is followed by true repentance. False conviction is followed by counterfeit repentance that only sees the consequences of sexual sin and the pain it caused others. Often this leads to a temporary change in behavior without a heart change.

Heart change is critical, “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexual immoral (Gk. porneia) or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater) has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). There is no room for error when it comes to dealing with sexual sin. There is a demand to either repent or perish (Luke 13:35). So there must be inner transformation of the heart because it is “deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Christians must take severe measures in killing this sin. This is the real danger: “Every unclean thought would be adultery if it could” (John Owen). “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality . . .” (Colossians 3:5).

The cross isn’t a recovery program, the place to improve on what good is already there. It is a place to die. It is not a question of giving up sexual sin, but of giving up one’s rights!

“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17–18). As dead sinners we lived “in the passion of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind” (Ephesians 2:3). Deceived, we foolishly think we can use our bodies as we choose when we are in love, when it brings us pleasure, when it makes us a whole person or feeds our spiritual well being. The truly repentant sexual sinner begins to grasp, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:1920).

True repentance is radical change from the inside out. “The basic meaning of repent is to experience a change of the mind’s perceptions and dispositions and purposes” (What Jesus Demands, 41). Repentance is not just becoming sexually pure, but an inward change, “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). Inward change leads to sexual purity. Repentance happens on the inside where heart change includes the development of an ingrained attitude to flee sexual immorality.

DON’T WAIT TO GET CAUGHT

Some time ago I met a pastor who told me that he had two or three affairs in each of the several churches he had pastored. He said, “My reputation in my denomination is to take a small struggling church and see it grow, only to again take another small church and see it grow. I’ve made that move three times, but in fact, I was only moving to a new church before I got caught in those affairs.” That man has no reason to expose his sexual sin or leave the ministry. Why should anyone know?

Why should anyone turn from sexual sin before being caught?

First, don’t let yourself be deceived. “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil . . . No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:89). While not completely free from sin, the heart of the true believer has been transformed, and they cannot live in a pattern of continual sexual sin.

Second, the exhortation is to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

Third, fear is not a virtue. Yes, exposure will be costly, but right now you are dying on the inside. It may not feel like dying right now, but you are, you are slowly killing yourself, your spouse, your family, and your congregation.

Fourth, if secret sexual sin has severe consequences, it is worth dealing with before the devastation occurs. Obvious examples come to mind to get help before: your Internet browsing history is discovered and shared; the prostitute turns into an uncover police women and you are arrested for soliciting; you contract an STD; or you are publicly exposed, humiliating yourself, your spouse, your family, and your congregation.

Fifth, it will come out. God is never mocked. “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness” (Romans 11:22).

Sixth, getting caught shatters trust and honesty in marriage, embarrasses your spouse, and makes reconciliation more difficult.

Seventh, there is hope. It begins with facing the truth. It is never just a struggle with your thought life; like all sexual sin, it is evil. If there is an old self to put off, there must be a new self to put on; that is the gospel.

HEAR THE BETTER WORD

Christ bears the wrath that will come for all sexual sin. If you are a true believer and real change has occurred, you are called to put off the old and put on the new. Killing sexual sin starts with exposure; it ends with no longer being enslaved (Romans 6:6). Exposure is painful, but it is better to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” than to hear, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

If you are a pastor stuck in sexual sin, no matter how well you have attempted to cover those sins with layers and layers of lies, I plead with you, step out from the darkness of those sins. Step into the light. Get help. You will never find life in the shadows.


Written by Harry Schaumburg / This article was also published on desiringGod.org.

– See more at: http://www.godoverporn.org/blog/sexual-sin-in-the-ministry#sthash.GUDw8Knp.dpuf