Christian Living


Overcoming Addictions 04/08/16

Church Leadership with a Double Life


We’ve all heard the scandals of some of the famous evangelists (Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard, etc.). Their secret sins were exposed and they stepped down from the ministry ... or were kicked out. But what about your everyday Christian, serving in God’s work as a minister, Sunday School teacher or other leadership position - how does it affect the body of Christ when they lead double lives?

Personally, I think there are a lot of people serving in God’s ministry who have secret sinful behaviors and addictions. I was one of them. You may be one of them. I taught Sunday School to five-year-olds, but during the week I smoked pot. They loved me and I loved them. My service was sincere and we enjoyed the ordinary joys of children singing Bible songs and learning about Jesus. I had no guilty conscience over my habit at all because I never went to church high on pot and for the longest time I didn't see anything wrong with it. There were plenty of people in my life who knew nothing about my addiction. I truly loved Jesus and no one even suspected I would be doing such a thing.

The truth is I believed a bunch of twisted lies:

  • My behavior wasn't hurting anyone
  • No one would ever know (it had been a well-kept secret for many years).
  • As long as no one knew, it was fine to keep on doing it
  • It was minor in the scope of sins
  • Everyone has secrets

The enemy blinded me; I hadn't thought about the risk I was taking. But, God didn't let me keep on doing that. Through the Holy Spirit, God began to pour conviction into my soul and mind. He showed me how the children would be affected if I were exposed in our church body. They looked up to me. They trusted me. They saw Jesus in me. Their tender hearts would be confused and discouraged if it got out that Miss Beth smoked pot. Of course, there would be the public shame to go along with it – my own children would be humiliated and I would be so embarrassed. I began to take this to God in prayer regularly to please help me.
I'd like to tell you that I immediately stopped smoking pot after praying for God to help me. But my life was steeped in the addiction. I had smoked pot for 20 years. I had to walk with Christ through the process of getting free.

Meanwhile, the Lord did convict me of my need to stop being a leader in His church. He laid it on my heart to voluntarily step down from the ministry before any damage was done to the young hearts He was building up for His Kingdom.

This was one of the toughest things I ever did. I met with the Sunday School administrator and confessed. I told her how I didn't feel it was right to keep on teaching while I still smoked pot and that I hadn't been able to quit, even though I wanted to. She thanked me for my honesty, prayed to God for my complete recovery, accepted my resignation, and never used it as an opportunity to hurt me.

I cried all the way home from our meeting. My heart broke over leaving a ministry that I loved, abandoning these children. How could I let something have such a hold on me that I'd not be able to discard it for the sake of these children and for Christ?

God used that huge obedient step of brokenness in the process of healing me and setting me free. If I could not give it up, I needed to cleanse the ministry of myself. Can you imagine? In essence, instead of being exposed and shamed, I humbled myself and confessed. It was the best way - it honored God.

It only damages the body of Christ (the church) when we live sneaky double lives. That small foothold given to the devil, can blossom into sending many souls away from Jesus, because of hypocrisy and looking too much like the world.

What about you? Are you serving with a secret that will damage the church, the body of Christ, your family? How does it feel to be hiding something about yourself from your Christian friends? Have you thought about what will happen to the people who respect you as a Christian if they knew what you do? Are you willing to face it head on and get rid of it? Or do you need to do like I did and step down from serving in ministry before you’re cut down?

Please do not allow Satan to have such a loaded weapon by continuing on the path you are traveling. Take a stand! Come clean and live for Christ alone. Confess and leave the consequences to Him.

Many years have passed since I stepped down from my Sunday School teacher position. Through the grace and power of God, I haven't had anything to do with pot for eight years and serve Him full time in more than one leadership capacity. I encourage anyone who is serving God with a secret to deal with it TODAY!

Copyright 2010 Beth Livingston. Used by permission.

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