Tagged: 12 Step Groups

Own Your Own Recovery

I’m disappointed again. Someone I invited to a 12-step meeting didn’t show up. I know he needs to come. He knows he needs to come, or at least he says he does. I think he isn’t hurting enough to make attending meetings a priority. He came to one or two meetings at my invitation but has yet to come solely on his own initiative. He doesn’t yet own his own recovery.

As a pastor, I see the same thing happen with seemingly non-addicted people. They come to church…occasionally. And they claim they enjoy it when they do, but they don’t come every week or even very regularly. Some are CEO attenders–Christmas and Easter Only. Some just come once in a while–when the guilt piles up, when someone nags them enough, when they are facing a crisis with a spiritual dimension.

My friend in need of the 12-steps is like that too. I suspect he will come again someday–when the guilt piles up, when a loved one nags him enough, or when he’s facing a crisis in his sobriety (like a slip or a relapse).

I know I was like that once in my recovery. I sought just enough help to get someone off my back or to ease the guilt I felt over an undisclosed relapse. I didn’t make meetings a priority; I didn’t make program calls; I didn’t value the 12-steps. I only sought temporary relief. The phrase “half measures” certainly applied to my recovery, and just like the Big Book says, they availed me nothing.

I remember our counselor telling me I had to make recovery a lifestyle. He said I had to own my own recovery. Recovery would never work for me if I did just enough to get my wife, my boss, or my accountability partner (or even my counselor) off my back. He told me (actually twice) that I needed to do a 90/90 (90 meetings in 90 days). I didn’t see the point of that at first, but after all, we’d paid him big bucks to straighten me out. I really should take his advice. At first, I felt a little like Naaman taking a seven-fold dip in the Jordan, but then I started noticing that going to meetings was no longer the burden it was at first. Being sober, when I truly worked the program, was actually quite enjoyable. Between the 30th and 45th day of sobriety, I started noticing changes. People around me noticed even more changes than I recognized in myself. That was really encouraging. But I would have never experienced those blessings had I not owned my own recovery. Somehow, by God’s grace I began to surrender my self-will and all the half measures that availed me nothing. As the 12-steppers say, “It works when you work it!”

 

About Anonymity

Let’s face it. We pastors have a lot to lose if the wrong people find out about what some of us do (or have done) in private. Publicly, the church and much of society have placed us on a pedestal. We are “Reverends,” clergy, “men or women of the cloth,” “God’s chosen leaders,” and so on! Yet we are human. We are sinful. Just like anyone else we deal with temptations, day in and day out. Some of us continually succumb to temptations in areas that most people find difficult to talk about: Internet pornography, masturbation, sex outside of marriage, same-sex attraction, and other sexual behaviors inconsistent with the biblical values we commonly preach.

So when we are caught up in sexual sin, where do we turn? Many of us don’t have anyone holding us accountable in these areas. If we tell our denominational leaders or the other leaders in the churches we serve, we will likely lose our jobs. We should be able to trust other pastors in our community, but most of us don’t. We continue to hide, isolate, and bury ourselves in what may very well be or become a sexual addiction.

There’s the recovery community, but can we trust our reputation to those who willingly admit to being sex addicts or “sexaholics” after they find out what we do for a living? As one who has spent over 13 years “in recovery” and almost 10 years involved in recovery ministries and 12-step groups, I can honestly say that the level of honesty and confidentiality in these groups is light-years beyond the average Christian church. Sadly, I’ve heard more soul-barring confessions and seen more grace extended and received in secular support groups than I have found in churches that claim to “preach grace.”

As a pastor, I respect your desire for anonymity, especially if you have not yet achieved victory over your temptations (or “sobriety” as they say in the 12-steps). This site and the phone meetings that we hope to launch soon are designed for you. We are not here to “out” you; we are here to help you. Please trust us to respect your anonymity and maintain confidentiality regarding what you share with us.