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When Will I Be Ready For the Ministry Again? (Pt. 1)

February 16, 2010

There are times when I feel that “ministry stirring” in my heart again.  This is a good stirring.  I still have a deep calling to the ministry, but my sexual addiction recovery has been the most important thing for me and for my family.   

It makes me think about the important question:  When is a person in sexual addiction recovery ready for ministry again?  And when am I personally going to be called back into vocational ministry? 

 

TAKEN OUT OF VOCATIONAL MINISTRY
You may know that a little over two years ago I was in the middle of working as a church planter in New York.  I had a fantasy and masturbation problems that grew into an Internet porn habit.  I couldn’t stop.  But worse that that, I didn’t get help and went to great lengths to cover up my sinning. 

 God found me out and pulled the plug… HARD!  I lost my job and had to step away form ministry to get healthy.  It was the best thing that ever happened to me! 

The last two and a half years have been my wife and I have spent hours in counseling, support groups, and accountability relationships to rebuild our marriage.  It has been very hard to be truthful and open about my sexual struggles, but it has made a huge difference in our marital intimacy.  

I stopped vocational ministry and didn’t even serve at our new church for about a year.  I was broken and in a crisis.  I needed to sit, hurt, be ministered to, and heal.  I took a finance job and focused solely on recovery and on my family.  

 

WHEN WILL I BE READY AGAIN?
There were pockets of time when I thought I was ready again for ministry.  My counselor, accountability partners, and support group were very helpful in guiding me through these thoughts.  

I wanted to get back into ministry…

  • Out of a desire to make things happen. 
  • I hated my job.
  • My identity was wrapped up in it. 
  • I didn’t know how to do other things well.
  • Others said I was ready
  • It would help me feel like I was not a failure
  • I did not want to be a minister at my workplace

 All of these reasons are bad reasons.  They are based on feelings, lack of identity, lack of passion, lack of patience. 

THINGS GOD IS DOING IN MY HEALING PROCESS

Sexual health  I am learning how to be sexual in the right way.  My behaviors have been changing as my heart has been changing.  I am learning to meet my sexual, emotional, and relational needs in godly ways.  My wife and I have been developing a renewed intimacy during this recovery process.

A blank slate – My wife and I have no agenda now.  No big strategy.  No big plans.  We are a blank slate and want whatever God wants.  

Serving my church – As we started getting healthy, we saw the needs in our own church.  We started volunteering again.  We started finding places to meet needs.  We started serving others.  

Learning to care for people again – I had a long spell where I just didn’t care about others.  I was focused on my hurt, pain, and consequences.  I was focused on my family and the guys in my group, but little else.  God has slowly been working on my heart to help me care for others.  I hurt for others in a fresh way now.  I want to reach out to others and pray for them.  I care about people’s eternal souls again. 

Contentment –   God has been teaching me to be content with where I am.  He is teaching me patience, and to look for opportunities to serve Him without being in vocational ministry.  

Desire to minister wherever – For a while, I thought my recovery was just a means to get back to vocational ministry.  It has been a character transformation.  My prayer at first was, “God, get me out of here.”  Now my prayer is, “God, if you want me to be a minister at my work and church for while, I’m cool with that.” 

The blessing of my support team – It’s so important for those who are overseeing my recovery process to feel like I am ready to be back in ministry.  My support team is:  my wife, my counselor, my accountability partners, my support group and my church pastors.  They have all served essential roles to my recovery and restoration to ministry.  Each of them has been giving their blessing and feels that I’m ready if God comes calling that direction. 

 

MORE THOUGHTS ON THE NEXT TWO BLOGS
Over the next two days, I will share more of my thoughts on when ministers (and when I think I) should get back into ministry.  There are many other lessons for ministers to learn in sexual addiction recovery.  They mustn’t rush the process. 
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Q:  If a person has stepped down from the ministry for sexual sin, can they go back again?  When are they ready to go back?
Q:  What are the dangers if a person goes back into ministry so quick?  

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When Will I Be Ready For the Ministry? (Pt.1)
When Will I Be Ready For the Ministry? (Pt.2)

When Will I Be Ready For the Ministry? (Pt.3)

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