It happens almost daily, like clockwork. The media reports the moral failings of another celebrity. Bill Cosby and Brian Williams are just the latest in a long line. The headlines never get old to us. They create a firestorm.
And the firestorm spreads higher and wider when these celebrities adamantly proclaim their innocence. Don’t get me wrong. Some of the accusations are false. And I am all for fighting a false accusation. But many times, evidence reveals the truth of the moral failure. And even then, we rarely hear the words, “I am sorry.”
And I understand why. It is the same reason preachers teach confession but rarely practice it. It is the same reason many church leaders teach the importance of confession but have no framework for acting on the words they teach.
We have a reputation to protect. We have a name to defend. We have a perception of perfection that can’t be stained.
As a church leader, I feel this weight daily. Even though I have struggles, I can’t tell the world. Go ahead. Preach on confession. Teach the reasons why every person should practice it routinely. But don’t actually confess your sin. If you do, people will lose respect for you. People will stop following. Regardless of the brokenness in my life, I must put on my big boy pants and come to church with a smile. This is the Kool-Aid most in leadership and positions of power drink.
Well, I am pouring out the Kool-Aid. This week, God wrecked me. I prepared to lead a group of college students through a passage on confession, and I was pumped about it. I was excited to give reasons why Christians need to confess. Then God dropped a bombshell on me.
He revealed to me the depth of my wicked heart. And he told me before I teach anything on confession from his inspired Word, I need to practice it in front of those college students.
God revealed I am hiding behind Satan’s facade. You see, Satan knows something. If he can trick me into thinking I don’t need to confess, he knows pride and self-righteousness will slowly take over my life. Pride is the essence of Satan. It is the essence of evil.
To combat pride, there must be confession. Bonhoeffer says it this way:
In confession there occurs a breakthrough to the cross. The root of all my sin is pride.
Confession isn’t for bad sinners. It isn’t for the worst of the worst. Confession is essential for any person desiring a deeper experience of the gospel.
And that’s me. Maybe this post will cost me some followers. Maybe not. But I know confession will lead me towards the cross, and ultimately, towards a deeper walk with God.
Without wasting any more time, here are some confessions I need to make.
I often seek the affirmation of others above God.
It is impossible to point people to Jesus when you need their affirmation. And because of this struggle, I failed to point people to Jesus. I have compromised values and withheld truth when it desperately needed to be delivered.
I embrace being progressive more than being Christian.
Ironically, there was a time when I embraced being conservative more than Christian. But one Bible study with a group of friends changed everything. That night, I was challenged for the first time. And that challenging set me on a path to re-examine nearly everything I knew about God.
In the process, I came to arrogantly believe someone couldn’t be Christian without being progressive. And for this, I repent. God calls people to himself from all walks of life. And I have many brothers and sisters in conservative environments who are experiencing the transformative power of the gospel.
I love the spotlight more than the reflecting the true light.
This sin is deadly. It is also exhausting. For years, I pursued the spotlight at the expense of the gospel. This means I secretly hoped others would fail so I could have the platform. This is completely the work of Satan. And for this, I repent.
God never promised me the spotlight. That is Jesus’s role. I am learning to be content in the journey towards the true Light, not in the journey towards the spotlight.
I often teach and challenge people to do things I never intended to do myself.
It is poor leadership and a poor reflection of my Savior to ask others to do things I wouldn’t do myself. I also placed expectations on others that I don’t place on myself. I blasted other people for not practicing and living in ways I didn’t practice and live myself. This is from the evil one. And I must learn the things God reveals to me through studying and preparation are first a revelation of my inconsistencies.
Many days I love ideas more than people.
Loving the idea of something but never embracing the steps necessary to see it become a reality is not from God. You see, I often pursue ideas because ideas are easy. They don’t require large amounts of my time. They are abstract. And, to be real, fighting for ideas is fun. But fighting for ideas rarely transforms lives.
God never asked me to fight for ideas. He told me to love my neighbor. I want to pursue the latter.
I often don’t believe prayer is effective.
It’s not that I don’t pray. And it’s not that I don’t want to believe in the power of prayer. I just struggle to know God is listening to me. I struggle to understand why I need to pray when God knows everything. And this is a revelation of my lack of faith.
I have not given the entirety of my life to Jesus.
I have not given the entirety of my life to God because I haven’t trusted God’s plan and direction. I thought withholding a piece would ensure I have something remaining if God ruined the piece I gave him. This is wicked and sinful. God deserves everything. Every second of every day. Every thought. Every action.
And this failure to give God the entirety of my life is only a reflection of my pride. It robs me of joy. And it robs the world of seeing the glory of God.
Even as I write this, I feel the weight. Something tells me not to write these things. No one needs to know I have problems. It is the weight of the spotlight. The weight of being a leader. But it is also the weight of pride. A weight that crushes the soul.
Confession isn’t easy. But it is liberating. It is life-giving. Listen to the words of David:
Before I confessed my sin, my bones felt limp and I groaned all day long. (Psalm 32:3)
Confession needs to be a central practice of my life. It reminds me I am wicked, and I desperately need God. Desperately. And I fall ridiculously short of God’s standard. I need the grace of God. I need the mercy of God. Everyday.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!