About two years after I had gotten out of the recovery center I had gone through I found myself working as the operations manager of a couple local UPS Stores. I enjoyed the work and the staff was awesome but there was this nagging feeling in me that kept telling me that I was wasting my life. I knew that I was meant for more than just making copies and sorting mail. I went to my boss and began talking about what it would look like for me to quit so that I could re-enter the ministry world. He was gracious and together we made a plan. And that was it. I knew what I was supposed to do and I knew what I needed to do to accomplish it.
There was only one issue...my past. Would I be able to get hired on a church staff if they knew that I had been in recovery for pornography addiction and that I had been released from a former position because of my failure with sexual sin? And so once again I’m faced with the question that this blog has us all used to answering by now, should I be honest?
For a while, I rationalized that I should just leave that part of my story out. I convinced myself that it wasn’t necessary or beneficial to me taking a position as a pastor. I began to imagine what it would look like to try and tell my story without that part and I quickly came to realize that it was a part of me. Everything about the ministry I felt called to came out of that story. The whole reason I longed to help others was because of all that I had been through. That story was my story and so I couldn’t leave it out.
The day came where I would meet with the committee that was doing the hiring and man was I nervous. I had put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself going into that meeting because I allowed myself to believe that being hired was the mark of my restoration and God’s calling on my life. I was giving them the power to give me my value and purpose or to take it away. As I look back over that meeting I’m amazed they didn’t escort me out.
I was honest, brutally honest. I told them everything. They asked probing questions and I gave them straight answers. I left that day feeling certain that I wouldn’t be hired but even more certain of who I was and who God had called me to be.
I had the pleasure of serving at this church for a little over two years. I met some great families and got to pour into some amazing kids. I repeatedly got to talk to young men about the dangers of pornography and the grace of God. I got to use my story of a chaotic homelife to point them towards a God who feels their pain, suffers with them, and offers them a way out in Jesus.
I know there may come a day where being honest about my weaknesses will cost me the job. I’ve grown very comfortable with that because honestly, I would be miserable there anyway. Even as I’ve been writing this story I’ve been criticized for being “too honest” and encouraged to tone it down for the sake of palatability, but I just can’t. I want to share every disgustingly gruesome detail of how sick I was so that when you meet me you will be in awe of God’s incredible power and grace.
Along the way though, there will be many more that will respect my honesty and find hope and courage from it. Those are the people I live for. I want to inspire people. I want them to look at me and say, “because of you I didn’t give up.”
He must increase and I must decrease.