This article was birthed out of my own personal trials. And it proved to be one of the most essential life-lessons I have ever learned: that of my own fragile sense of “success” and God’s endless patience and unequaled determination.
I have walked with God since 1974 and have served Him in pastoral ministry since 1982. I have preached on the average several times a week since I was just 15 years old. That’s a lot of preaching!
But there were dark areas of my soul, places of thoughts, and emotions that seemed resistant to God’s sanctifying graces. Oh, I poured my soul out to God on a daily basis. But the strong hold continued. And I had resigned myself that I would battle these demons in my personal darkness the rest of my life.
Then someone I love dearly happened upon evidence of the demons of my darkness. And the look of brokeness in her eyes sent me into a spiral of despair that I had never known. I will never forget the day when she looked at me with tears streaming down her cheeks and said, “Daddy, you were my hero.”
In that moment my world crumbled to ruins. My justifications of bad behavior, my professions of weakness, my admissions of wrong-doings and my resolutions to do better seemed to vanish as a vapor into worthless ramblings, unable to restore trustworthiness to my destroyed image.
I threw myself before God and cried out to Him. I confessed my sin to a couple of very trusted colleagues who prayed with me and for me. And I have since established an accountability system to make sure that I never return to the way of sin again.
What my personal sin was, and all of the struggles throughout the years, is not important to our lesson. We are all born with the desire to be a hero, to be a leader, and to influence others. And sooner or later we will disappoint those who we want to influence for good.
When we disappoint people we experience a myriad of emotions: shame, anger, resentment and despair. In the eyes of the disappointed we become a broken, imperfect or fallen hero.
We want desperately to go back in time and do things differently. But time-travel is not given to mankind. We can’t change what we have done. We can only decide what we will do next. And what we do in these moments will define our lives for years to come.
Have you disappointed anyone? YES, if you have lived for any length of time, you have disappointed someone. You have fallen off the pedestal they put you on. They resent you for disappointing them. And you probably resent yourself. So what can you do?
1. The very first thing you must do is: EMBRACE THE MIRROR. When I work out I used to look at the picture of a professional body builder. After straining through 3 push ups I imagined that I was that guy. But when I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw who I really am my ego would take a severe beating.
Friend, you and I are both guilty of ignoring the blemishes that are clearly there on our character. When we disappoint someone who is dear to us, quite often it is just life throwing up a mirror in front of our eyes. And we don’t like what we see. But the first step in transforming yourself is accepting what you see.
2. STAY IN FAITH, and don’t beat yourself up. And certainly don’t let anyone else beat you up over it. People get mean when they are hurt and disappointed. So if you have hurt someone expect them to hurt you back. It’s normal, though it is never helpful.
In the midst of my personal trial I seriously thought about how life just wasn’t worth living if it meant running the risk of disappointing someone again. Listen, quitting only makes things worse. Breaking off a relationship, quitting a job, or evening ending your life will only compound the disappointment. And it is a cowardly thing to do.
You can still be a hero. But it means you are going to have to make some serious changes in your life. It means you’re going to have to stop playing games and get serious with God, serious with life, and serious with yourself.
3. GET HONEST with yourself and with someone you trust. And stop making your sin someone else’s fault. The only way you are going to truly change is to accept full responsibility for who you are and what you have done.
If you have been blame shifting and playing the victim all your life than getting honest about yourself will be one of the hardest things you have ever done. But it is a non-negotiable step in self-transformation.
I used to meet with a trusted friend, and we would confess our sin to each other. We had two basic rules: RULE 1 Forget what was said. That meant absolute confidentiality; and it meant that one could confess the same thing the next time without the fear of hearing, Wait a minute you confessed that the last time. RULE 2 Never white wash sin. That meant being brutally honest and it meant that you didn’t brush off as unimportant the sin of the guy doing the confessing.
4. You must get serious and TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE. Jesus said that he who commits the same sin habitually, is a slave to it. (John 8:34) That means that the sin has spread out its tentacles into many different areas of your life. And if you are going to get free from the sin, you must take charge of your entire life and not just one part where the sin is manifesting.
The modern gospel of Accept the Sinner without Challenging the sin is a false gospel and it is killing the vitality of the church as well as destroying what little credibility we have left in this world. Friend, you must take charge of your life NOW!
- Is your prayer life in right order?
- Are you in God’s word every day?
- How is your diet? Too much caffeine, too much sugar, not enough fresh fruits and vegetables? Most people in the west are over fed and under nourished.
- Are getting exercise on a regular basis?
- Are you taking captive your thoughts and attitudes? Modern science has proven you can re-wire your brain and change toxic thought patterns. But you must work on it.
There are three things you need to think about when you are imposing some much needed discipline into your life:
- The price of your forgiveness. Jesus suffered greatly on your behalf to reconcile you before the Father. If you could look Jesus in the eyes while he suffered for you on the cross would you think giving up sweats for Him would be too great of a sacrifice on your part?
- The price of disappointing. People have gotten hurt because your life is out of order. You need to pay a price to get your life back into order and to restore the trust.
- The price of your repentance. Being honest about your failures is not easy. It is heart wrenching. You never want to go back to what you were. So never forget the cost of repenting.
5. Finally, you absolutely must MAKE A MEASURABLE PLAN for progress. Make a chart, keep track of your progress, write daily in a personal journal. And keep track of how you are doing. Become your own personal life-coach. And ask someone to help you keep you on track.
Friend, you are not just interested in fasting a couple of days. You are pursuing a transformation of your life-style. The apostle Paul wrote that we should be like those athletes who run with an intent to win. A boxer doesn’t just beat the air. (1 Corinthians 9:24-26) This means that you will need to learn how to make a weekly plan, set measurable goals, and then pursue them.
To close, I feel it important here to add just a word about the grace of God. Some might read this article and walk away from it saying, This is just works. Much error is being propagated today about grace. Paul wrote to Titus and said that grace has come teaching us, coaching us, to deny ungodliness, renounce our carnal passions, and to live a life-style marked by discipline, uprightness, and godliness. (Titus 2:11,12)
Grace is never to be seen as a license to do what we want to do. Grace is our coach who is ever present in our lives trying to lift us up to a higher standard in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the world. That grace is at work in you bringing you to the place of abandonment to the working of God’s Spirit who wants to make you more like Jesus.
You might have disappointed someone; you might have disappointed yourself. But your life isn’t over. Follow the above steps and you will see, God will use this situation to lift you to a higher level and to transform you into His hero.