In a nutshell an addiction is "anything that masters a person's life". A person that has a life-controlling problem lives in a state of preoccupation with his or her desires and is enslaved to a substance, behavior, or even another individual (often referred to as codependency).

The Apostle Paul writes (I Corinthians 6:12), "'Everything is permissible for me'-but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is permissible for me'-but I will not be mastered by anything." It seems that "everything is permissible" was a common belief at Corinth and had even influenced the church. Paul stated his determination not be "mastered by anything." Some in the church at Corinth had abused their Christian liberty through tolerance and liberal views that were simply sin. Tolerance and liberal views of today (do your own thing) have brought about an addictive society.

When a nation moves from its Judeo-Christian roots, as America has done, the values and principles by which choices are made, destroy the boundaries. Without boundaries, we become people of excesses, "If it feels good, do it." In a recent publication from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Todd Gitlin, Ph.D. (Professor of Sociology and Director of the Mass Communications Program, University of California, Berkeley) in his work On Drugs and Mass Media America's-Consumer Society. page 34, states,

"Proceeding from the right of individual gratification, nourishing it and nourished by it, there has emerged a culture of comfort and convenience. Its central presumption is that cultural goods and activities exist to give people easy pleasure, not to make demands on them. Americans defer to the established political-economic order while channeling their desires into the acquisition of things."

Jude says, "Stay always within the boundaries where God's love can reach and bless you"(Jude 21 TLB)

There are not many families who have not been affected by a family member's life-controlling problem. Although much attention is given to drug dependencies (alcohol is a drug), addictions are not limited to substances. There are certain behavioral addictions such as sex, gambling, compulsive spending, and so forth. All addictions are very difficult to break; however, it can be done. There are five principles that are important in breaking addictions.

Recognize your Powerlessness - Ray walked into my office one day and said, "I am here for better or worse." For the first time in his life, he saw his powerlessness to overcome an addiction by himself. He turned his life over to Jesus Christ and entered a Teen Challenge residential center.

When a person recognizes that he or she has a "mastering problem" and is aware of his or her powerlessness to break the addiction, the battle is half over. Admitting the need for God's help is the first step to breaking any addiction. The Apostle Paul recognized his own powerlessness (Romans 7:18-20). He recognized a war in his inner being (Romans 7:21-24). Paul also knew that the only way to deal with his powerlessness was through Jesus Christ (Romans 7:25-8:2).

Realize the Vacuum - Teen Challenge was good for Ray because there he received intensive discipleship to fill the vacuum he had experienced in coming off drugs. It is common for a person to fill an inner vacuum (some have described it as an emptiness), when he or she is recovering from a dependency. This vacuum is a spiritual void. If this spiritual vacuum is not filled with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then it is very likely that the individual will fill this void with another addiction or even go back to his/her drug of choice.

Through intensive discipleship, Jesus Christ became Ray's stronghold. Instead of looking to a chemical for his strength, he focused on Christ. Psalm 52:7 describes David's enemy as "the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!" There is no question that the spiritual needs of a person must be addressed to fully recover from a "mastering problem". The local church is clearly the important institution on the road to recovery.

Refocus on Accountability - Living in a state of delusion, accountability in the confines of caring staff members at Teen Challenge was absolutely necessary for Ray's recovery. He needed the care-fronting (a word coined by David Augsburger describing confrontation in a caring way) of the staff to help him resist the lies which are common for a person in delusion. Ray, through the help of his loving friends at Teen Challenge learned that he was important, that there was hope for him, and that God had a plan for his life versus the hopelessness and despair of life he had accepted as part of his belief system.

Breaking out of an addiction and delusion requires accountability. The individual needs to be plugged into a Christ-centered small group of people who cares about him or her enough to speak the truth in love. A support group helps the person resist the lies and excuses, which only strengthen impaired thinking. God works through the Holy Spirit (Psalm 139:23-24) and His Word (Hebrews 4:12-13) to shatter the delusion in a person's life. He also uses other believers. "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness" (Hebrews 3:13).

Renew Wholesome Living Skills - Although Ray was 26 years old, he had the living skills of a 12-year-old. Being on chemicals for 14 years had severely retarded his emotional growth and living skills.

A person who has been mastered by a stronghold will need assistance in rebuilding relationships and accepting responsibilities. Through "work experience" and "living skills" programs in Teen Challenge, Ray learned valuable lessons such as being on time at his place of responsibility, communication with the opposite sex, balancing a checkbook, and so forth.

Reckon with Relapse - One of the most important factors in Ray's recovery was facing the possibility of relapse (returning to his former lifestyle). After he graduated from Teen Challenge, I continued to help him face the reality of relapse. We discussed the powerful negative influence the former crowd could have upon him. The Apostle Paul warns against this in I Corinthians 15: 33. "Do not be mislead: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'"

I also encouraged Ray not to cover up his urge to relapse but instead talk with me about it so I could pray with him and offer encouragement. Overconfidence, particularly for those who are prone to extreme emotional and spiritual highs and lows, can feed relapse. This sometimes develops into a "talk the talk" versus "walk the walk" lifestyle. Avoiding concerned friends and missing church services or support group meetings also indicate relapse symptoms. It is good for a person to take inventory of past triggering devices that influenced him or her, while in the former lifestyles, lest Satan get a foothold. "As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly" (Proverbs 26:11).

In conclusion, addiction is death on the installment plan. It's not like Ray woke up one morning and had contracted a disease. It occurred step-by-step and day-by-day based on poor choices for fulfillment in his life. I remember Ray's telling me that he never planned to be trapped by a life-controlling problem, yet it still happened The best way to overcome an addiction is to live everyday for Jesus and take the Apostle Paul's advice, "I will not be mastered by anything" (I Corinthians 6:12). The old adage remains true: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."


Copyright © 2000 by Turning Point Ministries

The Spiritual Battle of Addiction

The Apostle Paul made an important response to the mind-set of the Corinthians, "Everything is permissible for me." He went on to say, "but I will not be mastered by anything" (1 Corinthians 6:12). This statement was not made as a "sound bite" or from a cliche he read in a church bulletin. He made this statement with much substance. He understood fully how to do battle with Satan and be an overcomer.

First, he understood spiritual warfare. He said, "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

Paul refused to manipulate people intellectually although he was very intelligent. He did not use personal charm through his speech, nor did he use empty philosophical or psychological jargon to impress people with his knowledge of human behavior. Instead, he focused on God to overpower the strongholds that were mastering the people.

Paul deals with one of the great areas of defeat of many Christians in this passage when he says, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God." The battle in today's society is in the mind. To wage war against Satan, we must first demolish, cast down those imaginations, speculations, or even reasonings and logics that come against the truth of God's Word.

What do we do with those imaginations that trouble the Christians' minds? We bring our thought life, our framework of thought, into obedience to Christ. A daily time of prayer and Bible reading cultivates the soil of the mind and keeps us in active fellowship with Christ. John writes, "And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3).

The basis of our immaturity is self-centeredness that keeps us from fellowship with God, ourselves, our brother, nature, and life itself. Every immature person is tied in on himself and cannot be outgoing, friendly, and loving-cannot have fellowship. So the first thing in the Christian purpose is to produce fellowship. . . . The person who has no fellowship with God is an immature person (Jones, 25).

Second, Paul understood the character of Satan which was built on lies; therefore, his plan of attack or method of schemes would be devices and trickery. Paul said, "For we are not unaware of his schemes" (2 Corinthians 2:11). It is important that we understand the schemes the enemy is using to get us out-of-focus on Christ. He has three favorite tools that we all face.

A few years ago, my wife and I went on a "whale watch" in Hawaii. Concerned about seasickness, we asked the captain the best thing to do to prevent it while sailing the ocean. He directed us to focus our eyes on an object and not on the waves. When traveling in the beautiful mountains of Tennessee with our guests, I have noticed it is usually the backseat passenger who feels sick and not the driver. Why? Because the driver is focused.

It is the same principal in serving Christ. When we get out-of-focus by turning our sole attention to the waves of life, we will get sick. There are two prescriptions that will help us stay spiritually and emotionally well. First, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2). Next, look up, not down. In Psalm 8, David proclaims the name of the Lord and says, "You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor" (v5). In verses 6-8, he tells how flocks and herds, beast of the field, and so forth, are under man. There is a significant point in this passage we need to see. We were made a little lower that the heavenly beings, not a little higher than the animal kingdom.

It could have been written the other way around. If man really is a mediating being, as the Psalm maintains, it would have been equally accurate to have described him as slightly higher than the beasts rather than as slightly lower than the angels. Although men and women have been given a position midway between the angels and the beasts, it is nevertheless humanity's special privilege and duty to look upward to the angels (and beyond the angels to God, in whose image woman and man have been made) rather than downward to the beasts (Boice, 70-71).

We have been made in the image of God; therefore, we are to look up, not down. It is not surprising that the proponents of evolution work diligently to trace man's origin to the animal kingdom. In their view, if there is no God, what other choice is available?

When we get out-of-focus, our attention will likely be directed to an idol. The second commandment says:

You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments (Exodus 20:4-6).

Built on the first commandment, this commandment tells us that man is going to worship something and that God is a jealous God (2 Corinthians 11:2). We are forbidden to worship or use created things or even creation itself as an approach to God. Idols become God-substitutes and can include the environment (trees, flowers, ocean, land, etc.), church buildings, drugs, alcohol, money, statues, monuments, tradition, and the list goes on. These idols are often handed down to the next generation. (This will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 7.)

An idol becomes a focal point in our lives even though it has no helping power or substance. The power of influence is not in the idol but the one behind the idol-our enemy Satan. He uses idols to get us out-of-focus. Paul says, "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). In Ephesians 5:5, Paul says an "immoral, impure or greedy person . . . is an idolater." Jealousy is also an idol (Ezekiel 8:5).

Paul says, "We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one" (1 Corinthians 8:4). He also notes from where the influence of an idol comes: "Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons" (1 Corinthians 10:19-20). Paul goes on to say that this arouses "the Lord's jealousy. Are we stronger than he" (1 Corinthians 10:22)? God is jealous on our behalf because He knows our loyalty to Him is important for our well-being.

As human beings, we are frail and weak, and idols only add baggage to our lives. Jeremiah says, "they must be carried because they cannot walk" (10:5). What about the conversation, kindness, or friendship of an idol? "They have mouths, but cannot speak . . . they have hands, but cannot feel" (Psalm 115:5,7). What about the outcome or benefit from trusting an idol? "Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them" (Psalm 115:8). David said, "My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare" (Psalm 25:15).

Three Tools of Satan
There are three active tools every person needs to be aware of that Satan is using to reinforce an addictive society. The first is delusion. We have already talked about this in Chapter 4, but remember it is a false belief system or seeing things that are true and acting as though they are not true. Isaiah 44:20 presents a vivid picture of delusion as the prophet addresses those who are serving idols: "He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, 'Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?' " It is possible to have an idol in our right hand and not see it. For example, a person controlled by a substance, behavior, or relationship is often blind to the destruction he is causing his family and himself.

Another favorite tool of Satan is isolation. When faced with a struggle, feelings of failure, or when a destructive stronghold develops in our lives, we often move into isolation by building a wall around ourselves. We sometimes go to church with our "Sunday smiles" and sit in our own "private phone booth." There are probably others on the same pew who are also in isolation. I have heard this statement many times: "I was dying on the inside, but it seemed that no one cared." I believe this statement is often incorrect; it just seems that way because isolation often separates us in an addictive society when we need each other so much. "As the problem intensifies, their delusional system allows them to justify their isolation. Since they've learned to lie to themselves, lying to others is easy. Gradually they hold onto their idol with both hands, turning their back on the only One who offers them hope for deliverance" (Perkins, 39). It is not wise to isolate ourselves from those who care for us. "A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment" (Proverbs 18:1 NKJV). The third tool is secrecy, or another way to describe it is hiding. Life-controlling problems grow in the soil of secrecy. Sweeping sin under the rug may hide it for a while, but it will eventually surface. When Adam and Eve sinned, "they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden" (Genesis 3:8). Hiding the use of an addictive substance, the practice of a destructive behavior, or the development of an unhealthy relationship often develops into worship of that substance, behavior, or person. Isaiah describes this: "for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood (or false gods) our hiding place" (28:15).

Everyone will have a hiding place. I hear people say, "He hides himself in his work, education, drugs, alcohol, etc." God recognizes this need we have for a hiding place. Paul says, "For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3).

Several years ago there was a popular book, The Hiding Place, which was about the faith and courage of Corrie ten Boom. During World War II, her family hid Jews from the Nazis in their home in Haarlem, Holland. This house, which had a clock shop on the first floor, was a refuge for Jews. The Nazi police would frequent the shop; therefore, there were certain symbols in the window which would indicate it was safe for Jews to enter the house.

My wife and I have visited the famous refuge in Haarlem on two occasions. We were told by those who knew Corrie ten Boom and her sister, Betsie, that Betsie's prayer was not focused on the safety of her family or the Jews. Her prayers were focused on the saving of the Nazis. Betsie ten Boom really knew who her "hiding place" was. It was more than a building. Her mind was set "on things above, not on earthly things" (Colossians 3:2).

Delusion, isolation, and secrecy all work together in the life of a person who is developing a life-controlling problem (a substance, behavior, or relationship that is mastering a person's life). When a person suppresses the truth, withdraws himself from those who care, and hides his actions, the journey has started to a problem that will end up mastering the person if corrective action is not taken.

God's Three Primary Resources
As in past decades, we have God's resources to defeat Satan's lies and schemes of delusion, isolation, and secrecy. First, we have the Word of God. "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account" (Hebrews 4:12-13). What about the Word of God in this addictive society in which we live? Psalm 119: 89-90 declares, "Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations." "Our responsibility is to tear down . . . strongholds through Spirit-filled prayers. How? There is only one weapon-the sword of the Spirit. We must fight these lies with God's Word. We must fight specific lies with specific truths" (Stanley, 118).

Second, we have the Spirit of God. "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). Through the Holy Spirit, believers "put to death the misdeeds of the body" (Romans 8:13). Believers are "led by the Spirit of God" (Romans 8:14). Whether the Holy Spirit leads by inward urgings or by circumstances, His direction is always in God's will, in agreement with the Scripture, and in opposition to the sinful nature. We have the promise of the Holy Spirit to guide us through the maze of deception in this addictive society. Being our counselor, the Holy Spirit will make Jesus known to us in a personal way.

Third, we have the people of God. We have each other. The New Testament presents the Church as the people of God on numerous occasions with the words "one another" (love one another, bear with one another, comfort one another, forgive one another, etc.). Hebrews 3:13 points to the importance of the "one another" relationship: "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." The picture of this verse can be seen as a long distance race, and the runner is weary and perhaps ready to give up. The encourager comes alongside him to offer support, encouraging the runner not to give up. This verse also shows the importance of the personal care for each other-"encourage one another . . . so that none of you . . . " The "one another" care is to be regular-"daily." It is more than friend day once a year. The word Today implies urgency. Now is the time.

Why are "one another" relationships important? "So that none of you may be hardened [a process] by sin's deceitfulness [the delusion of sin]." We need an active relationship with Jesus Christ and one another in this addictive society. Building relationships with one another can be hard work, but it is essential whether it is in a Sunday school class, home group, office staff, cell group, or support group. You need the people of God. The people of God need you.

The people of God are "God's fellow workers" (1 Corinthians 3:9). The death of Lazarus as recorded in John 11 is an example of Jesus and the people of God. Mary and her sister, Martha, sent word to Jesus that Lazarus, their brother and a friend of Jesus, was very sick. Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus but stayed two more days before leaving for their home.

When Jesus arrived, he "found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days" (v17). There were already many Jews there to comfort Martha and Mary in the loss of their brother. It is noteworthy that Lazarus means "God is his help." In this passage are four principles of help that are involved in being in partnership with Christ.

There Is Help for the Ifs in Life
" 'Lord,' Martha said to Jesus, 'If you had been here, my brother would not have died' " (v21). Martha was saying, "You're too late Jesus; my brother is already dead. Thanks for coming to show your concern." The words, "if you had" or "if I had only," speak of the past. There are relationships and circumstances in the past you cannot change. This was a situation Martha could not change-her brother was dead and had been dead for four days.

There have been times in life when we felt Jesus was tardy or not there at the time when we needed help. Even at a low time in Martha's life when all hope was gone, Jesus had a plan to help her with the past. The lesson here-let us place in the trust of Jesus the "ifs" of the past in our lives.

In the book, The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom tells of a night when German and English planes were dogfighting above them in the skies over Holland. After hearing her sister Betsie stirring in the kitchen, Corrie raced down. For an hour, they sipped tea together until the sky was silent.

Corrie returned to her bed in a darkened room. She ran her hand over the pillow and felt a piece of metal. There was a ten-inch piece of metal that had fallen onto her bed. She rushed to tell Betsie, " 'Betsie, if I hadn't heard you in the kitchen-' But Betsie put a finger on my mouth. 'Don't say it, Corrie! There are no "ifs" in God's world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety-O Corrie, let us pray that we may always know it!' " (ten Boom, 67).

There Is Help for the Hurts in Life
"When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.' When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled" (vv32-33). Mary took her hurts to Jesus-"she fell at his feet." Being deeply touched by their sorrow, "Jesus wept" (v35). The old hymn says it well, "What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer."

There Is Help to Help Yourself
When Jesus came to the tomb, he ask for assistance in removing the stone at the entrance of the cave. After the stone was removed, Jesus prayed to the Father then "called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen" (vv 43-44). Notice, Jesus asked him to do all he could do, and Lazarus did all he could do to help himself. Jesus will not do what we can do for ourselves. What we cannot do for ourselves, He is there to help.

Hand-in-Hand Help
Throughout this passage, we see Jesus and the people of God working together. The people of God called for help, shared sorrow, removed the stone, and Lazarus did his part. However, the climactic display of hand-in-hand help was when Jesus said to the people of God, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go" (v44). Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, so was he not capable of removing the grave clothing? Certainly He was! However, He chose to have a partnership by involving the people of God in removing the grave clothes.

God involves each of us in this spiritual battle we face living in an "addictive society." To deal with the delusion, isolation, and secrecy, we need the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and each other.


Material from Understanding the Times and Knowing What to Do
Copyright © 1991, 1997 by Turning Point Ministries
All Rights Reserved

We live in an addictive culture. The challenge is ... when we talk about addiction, most people want to think primarily in terms of porn,  drugs or alcohol. But in fact when our lives are increasingly mastered by anything that doesn't please God-to help us deal with the challenges and even pain of our lives-we have entered into the addiction zone.

Anger. Sports. Spending and buying. The pursuit of free time. The lottery or gambling. Food.
Weekends away. The buzz that comes from gossip. Work. Sleep. Extreme adventures. The praise of others. The list can go on and on.

Paul said in I Corinthians 6:12:"..I. will not be mastered by anything. "He understood the  human nature is prone to seek out things in life that sooth the soul, even if that respite is temporary. And that pursuit of soul-soothing gets a lot of us in trouble-whether the trouble is visible or not.

If there is anything we have learned about addiction, it is this: The very culture that feeds us the food, recognition, money, porn, experiences and other addictive substances that we crave is the very same culture that will make mincemeat out of you the moment your addiction to those substances is exposed. Too often,the local churches and Christian organizations that insist on near "sinless perfection" from their leaders and managers behave precisely the same way when someone struggles with a "besetting sin," "tendency" or life-controlling problem.  There just is very little wiggle-room for error. Even less grace and restoration. So out of fear from the repercussions, Christian leaders and managers take their struggles only one place: underground.

Keeping Up Appearances
Keeping up appearances is the primary way Christian leaders and managers often go underground.

They wear their game face, all the while struggling inside. Scripture tells us, "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."( l Samuel 16:7) On this point,  Christians behave much like their unchurched counterparts. Appearances are extremely important in the Christian community. We know instinctively that no one likes to see a Christian  struggling with a besetting sin. Especially a leader or manager.

So most of us wear a mask, whether for short periods of time or continually. By wearing a mask,we try to control how other people see us.

We become performers acting out a part, sometimes briefly in specific situations, in other cases for our entire lives. In doing so, we hide harmful emotions and addictions in the belief that no one will see them behind our masks.

All too often, we try to convince ourselves that whatever issue or addiction we are struggling with isn't really that bad or isn't really hurting anyone-including ourselves. But the reality is, the issue almost always affects others as well. What is underground in our lives  ultimately affects what's going on above it. Weeds and dandelions that lie dormant all winter eventually sprout. And when the hidden issues in our lives come to the surface, then things get messy.

Can You Pass this Test?
II Corinthians 3:18 encourages us to live this Christian life with unveiled faces (without masks): "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's gtory, are being transformed into his likeness with every increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

What a wonderful and encouraging verse. When we live openly without hiding, we have all the potential to be transformed for the better-the very thing we often crave and use other addicting things to achieve. But there is a catch- To live fully in Christ, unveiled, it is important to do two things:

  • Be willing to identify the thing that seeks to control our lives and,
  • Address it head-on

So, how do you know to what extent something might be mastering you? I encourage people to use the SAFE rule. This was first introduced by Patrick Carnes in his book >em>Out of the Shadows; I've made some minor revisions to the form you see here. Ask yourself:

S - Is it done in Secrecy?
A - Is it Abusive to yourself or others?
F - Is it done to escape or avoid Feelings?
E - Is it Empty of commitment to Christ and Christian relationships?

In my experience, secrecy, the first letter in the SAFE rule, is one of the most critical and telling indicators. You or someone in your organization may have a team member who believes their mask will hold up because they don't believe they will ever get caught or be revealed. That person often becomes secretive, which is a clue that something may be going on. When isolation sets in, a person feels that they don't need to be part of a group or be a team player.

Getting into the Light
There is a strong verse in the Bible that sets up a life-giving equation for all of us:

But (if) we walk in the light, as he is in the light,(then) we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. (l John1 :7)

So, can you pass this test? I encourage you to remove the mask that hides your true self. Get into the light. As we become more transparent with God and others, we will more and more bear a resemblance to Christ, experience greater fellowship with those we care about, and sense the freedom in our spirits that comes from the forgiveness of our sins.

I cannot think of a better management practice.

You Can't Go it Alone
When we come to a place where we are "in the light" on our own junk, with the masks we have been wearing or what we have been hiding, we almost always need others around us to help. A useful tool is to think in terms of 3-12-70. These numbers represent the concept of three types of relationships: mentoring, small group, and fellowship.

    • 3 represents MENTORING: You need two or three godly people in your life to walk with you and serve as mentors. These are individuals whom you trust enough to confide in. This is important in any Christian walk, but particularly when you are dealing with deep issues.


    • 12 represents a SMALL GROUP: You need the interaction and support you find in a small group of people who are centered around Christ. People need to be able to share their hearts, but you also have to have a platform where people feel safe to talk. You may not share anything about your life-controlling problem here, but you will develop important relationships.  A Christian leader I know had a horrific problem with anger. Because of this, his ministry suffered. While in a small group, he realized he was really angry with Jesus because when he was a child, his newborn brother died. Everyone around him said that the baby had gone home to be with Jesus. He took that to mean that Jesus killed his newborn brother.It angered him for years. This realization opened the door to freedom and restoration.


  • 70 represents the larger fellowship circle of Christians, your CHURCH. Although not as intimate as the mentoring relationship and small group, this gathering of believers is vital to your spiritual health. As we dwell in the presence of God by aligning ourselves with God's Word and through prayer and face-to-face community, we will be strengthened in our identity in Him and the glory of the Lord will be seen in our lives.

Finally, don't think twice about getting professional help. When you get to a leadership or management level in some Christian circles, seeing a counselor or therapist is seen as spiritual weakness or failure. Nothing could be more untrue. A qualified Christian counselor who measures truth by the Bible may be just the thing to help you find the freedom you have been looking for-and help you walk in the Light at home and in the workplace.

Copyright Turning Point Ministries, 2008.

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