A young man called to tell me he was being tempted to give in to porn. I said, “I have told many young men to do what you are now doing. You are the first to call before giving in. Others get prayer when they yield to temptation and need forgiveness to lift the shame. But you are ahead of the game; you are calling for strength to resist. Way to go. That is what it means to walk in the light, to share your weakness, to acknowledge that you need support. You’ll get it, and you will resist the devil.” I was proud of my young friend.
He was surprised. When I encouraged him to do this a few months before, he had assumed that because I had been mentoring young men for decades many would have called to solicit prayer at the front end. He was the first. We need to walk in the light together, to confess our weakness, and ask for help. How easily we pretend that we are strong when we are weak. We would see a thousand more victories among young men battling sexual temptation if they were willing to check in when they faced temptation, not only after they had given in. I hope that the victory my friend experienced by walking in the light encourages others to do the same.
One of my sons came to me and Karen as a young man. He was crying. He said, “I have felt like the flawed son in a flawless family.” I asked, “Didn’t I ever share with you my defeats? Haven’t your brothers talked with you?” No on both counts. How critical it is to walk in honesty, beginning in our families and continuing in the Christian community. Too many are trying to make it alone and failing. They need parents and leaders who model vulnerability, so they can share their weakness and need for support.
My favorite professor at seminary said, “The first thing I do when I mentor someone is to share my weaknesses.” Why does he do that? Because we are not used to sharing our dark side. We hide it even from friends. When we begin to meet with a mature brother or sister for mentoring, we don’t want to do what we most need to do–confess our struggles, our weaknesses, our failures. We want this person to think well of us, not to think that we are wimping out. So we shine the bright side. But if he or she starts with a weakness, then those being mentored are a bit more comfortable sharing the dark side. What a humble thing to do. In our pride, we prefer sharing our victories. But James urges us, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). We would see more healing if we practiced more transparency.
One reason so many pastors are failing is that they have not practiced walking in the light. Some have been taught not to share personal matters with members, and they often lack close friends. They desperately need to learn to be vulnerable with other pastors and leaders. Otherwise, the epidemic will only continue. May God give you grace to walk in appropriate transparency–and see much victory!