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“Let Me Go First Today”

Last Updated: February 21, 2014

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Pastor Confesses to Online Temptations

by Pete Wilson

John Stott once said:

My main concern for the church everywhere is that we often do not look like what we are talking about. We make great claims for Christ, but there is often a credibility gap between our words and our actions.

No where is this more true than the church’s claims of authentic community. We love to throw the “authentic community” words around, but rarely are we willing to live with the risks associated to create such environments.

Most Christians I know are chained to their fears of being found out. However, you need to know, for every fear you accept in your life there is always a corresponding consequence. The damaging consequence of this fear is that our churches are full of people running around hiding their sin, their addiction, their doubts and their hurts. We’ve learned that this kind of secret behavior is not only allowed, it’s actually rewarded.

I love it when Jon Acuff talks about “the gift of going second.” When you go first and admit the sin, the junk, and all the crap in your life, you give others a gift, allowing them to follow you. It’s always easier to go second.

I think those of us who have been placed in positions of leadership in the church have got to “go first,” creating environments where people feel free to bring their junk into the context of community, where they can find grace and healing.

So, let me go first today.

Last week I was doing some research for a message online when I stumbled on a pop-up ad that was very enticing. All I had to do was click on the image and I knew it would take me to a place where I could escape the current writing pressures I was facing.

For more than a minute I sat there debating whether to click or not. There was a war raging in my mind. I would go from praying for strength to trying to justify what I wanted to do. In the end, I didn’t click.

You know why?

Because, I have Covenant Eyes, which reports to one of my accountability partners every website I visit. I knew I would be busted.

However, I’m still disappointed in myself. I want to get to the place where I don’t click, not because I’m afraid I’m going to get caught, but because I don’t desire to go there: I don’t desire it because I know what that junk does to my soul. I know how it destroys intimacy in my marriage. I know how it keeps me from growing in Christ-likeness.

I want to not want.

That’s a glimpse into the darkness that can raise its ugly face in my heart from time to time.

So there you go. I went first today. Where do you need to go first in order to encourage others to bring their sin into the context of community, where they can experience grace and healing? What do you think we need to do in the church to back up our claims of authentic community?

. . . .

pete-wilson1Pete Wilson is the founding and senior pastor at Cross Point Church, a two-campus church community in Nashville and Dickson, TN. You can read more about him at his blog, WithoutWax.tv. This post is reprinted with permission from his blog (January 19, 2009).
  • Comments on: “Let Me Go First Today”
    1. Thanks for going first, Pete. I know that having Covenant Eyes on my computer certainly makes me think twice about links I click on. It still irks me that I have to think about it, that I don’t just ignore it or am not tempted by this junk. But, hey, if it takes an application like Covenant Eyes to keep me in check until my brain and heart catch up with the spiritual truths I know should be evident in my life I’ll take it.

    2. Jeremy

      That was a confession? You admitted that you were tempted?

      All you’ve done is set the bar high for whoever has to go second. That person will try to think of something which they currently “struggle with”, and they’ll give an example in which they won the struggle.

      What about an area in which you are utterly failing? Or how about a time you used a non-monitored computer and looked at stuff you’d never want to describe? What if you gave a real confession — one that shows you’re not just a humble-but-holy pastor, but a real broken sinner. Just like us.

    3. Jeremy, I beg to differ. He admitted he was tempted and admitted he didn’t fall, THIS TIME. I know I’ve been tempted in the same way hundreds of times. I have even been tempted so much that I would find ways around Covenant Eyes, like using another computer. John admitted he was human, and has failings like the rest of us. We all fail; some of us in more visible ways than others, but we all fail. I’ve had CE on my computers (plural) for about 4 years now, I think. I don’t even think about it any more. The temptation is in my head, but my index finger no longer has the urge to click.

      Stick with it John. With His strength you can make it to the place you want to be.

      And Jeremy, You’re right. We are all real broken sinners, we’re just all trying to move closer to Him.

    4. Alan

      Thank you for raising the issue. Doing so is better than not. I think we all need to hear of other brother’s victories and can assume previous defeats without needing all those details.

    5. Hey Jeremy. Trust me when I say I’m totally a “real broken sinner” just like you and everyone else walking this earth.

      The above post was from a message I gave at my church. That was just the particular temptation I was wrestling with that week.

    6. Mike

      Hi, thanks for going first. You hit the nail dead on the head so to speak. I am 47 years old and have struggled with this horrible addiction–yes addiction since I was about 10. Until recently who could you tell? Who could you confide in? I had no idea what is was or why I did it. I hated it but felt powerless to stop. It was my Crack or Heroin, and just as destructive if not more. Pete is so right, churches should be places you feel free to confess sin and not hide it–I think the Catholic church has been on to something for ages. Light always overcomes darkness. This stuff has all but destroyed so much of my life. I wish I had known earlier what to do or who to turn to. Jesus forgave and still forgives the worst of sinners of which I count myself. I have wept many times just thinking about him forgiving a prostitute like Mary M.–when will church be a place where sinners are welcomed and lives are changed? When will our actions be in line with our words? When that starts happening the world will really start to change–Just a thought.

    7. Mikel

      I just found this site, I find it hard to write this as I cannot see the key board through the tears. I’ve fought with it all my life and I have rationalized it for years. I know I God loves me and forgives me. I know his grace is sufficient for me but I also know a relationship is built on love, respect and discipline. It causes me to question my love for Jesus. Do I truly love Him? If I can’t even carry the cross for a day how can I possibly love Him. I have no doubt my ministry is hindered by my failing. In the past I’ve allowed it to ruin my relationships and as a result it has left me totally void. I’m sure you’ve read about the results of long term porn addiction. I am sick of it. If this is an addiction like any other. then i understand I will never, NEVER, stop thinking of it. I know alcoholics who after 10 years of sobriety still go to two meeting a day. Where is the support system for this addiction?

      • Mikel, I really understand your pain right now. For years I battled this addiction when it seemed like there was no end in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel. It was gripping. I highly recommend you check out some of the resources in the “Struggling?” section of this blog and see if any of them fit you. Aside from these resources, I believe the most important thing you can do bring other trusted, godly, men into the heart of your struggle and start getting to the root of your sin. Find a good friend or older man to look at the Struggling resources with you and talk with him about them.

    8. carlos

      Mikel, what can i really say that probably hasn’t been said. But its true what you say that addiction can be achieved (or so we believe ) when the thought of it still linger. Like an addiction at anyone moment can arise so we really arent fully delivered we just deal with it in other words we tolerate it and think better thought and busy ourselves in other things. Psalms 4:4 says to be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed and be still. Selah
      First of all we must pause, think about what we are asking G-d and being still until He responds and not entertain other thoughts while we wait. We must not let this addiction consume or trust in the Lord or make this battle ours. My dear brother like you for a long time i battled with this addiction and also hindered my ministry, but until a gave Him this battle and meditated in the work He gave me not just in my bed but day and night i saw true deliverance because my zeal for Him became greater than mine. I also confessed before my true friend my wife whom i thank G-d that stood by me and encouraged me to go forward. This made me accountable to the one help mate that the Lord placed me with. I believe that when we become truely accountable to an all seeing , hearing, and speaking G-d and that someone special we can overcome.

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