I was disappointed to learn that Westside Family Church removed the video of this past weekend's services. Pastor Dan Southerland filled the pulpit and did an amazing job of bringing news to the congregation about the affair the church's senior pastor was having with one of the administrators. He handled a fragile situation with tact, grace, finesse, and deep pastoral love. When I grow up, I want to be Southerland.
I forget the pastor's name. It doesn't matter. If you want to know, Google it yourself. I don't know the details. I only know the end result and it rattles me. Every single time I hear the story of a church leader falling, I'm shaken and stirred. Shaken because I know me and I know I'm so very capable of doing the same thing. I have an incredibly guilty conscience. My mid-life adolescent ego loves attention and affirmation. This stirs me to examine my life (not a pretty picture), learn (from another man's mistakes), and pray (that someone won't be learning from my own similar mistakes). And my heart hurts. This makes me pray for people besides me; like those directly touched by the fallen leader.
I love to study King David's life. You all know his story. He's a man that loves God, he's a revolutionary author and song-writer, a war hero, nation-founder, trainer of strong, fearless men, and godly political figurehead. He's and adulterer and a murderer. He's remembered as a repentant and humble man. He was around forty years old when he found himself complacent and of some new frontier to conquer. He set his sights on bathing in the buff Bathseba.
It's weird how it's always guys in their forties that find themselves in this kind of trouble. I came to realize this in my late thirties when that fortieth birthday came rolling down my alley like a bowling ball. I'm very familiar with my own lust, my fragile ego, and the magnetic appeal of pornography. And then I think of my wife, my daughter, my son, and tremble.
I don't know about you, but I am not strong enough to stand against temptation by myself and care for my family. I need help. I gotta get some other guys in on keeping me strong. Just like in the weight room, I need a spotter to help me because this is too much to bench press by myself. I need the Lord's help.
The Apostle Paul was transparent. Men that have mentored me like Pastor Bob Coy and Pastor Dan Plourde are transparent even in front of their congregations. And I need at least one, maybe two brothers in my life that will allow--no, demand--that I be transparent with them. And then--challenge of all challenges--I've become, over the course of my twenty-one year marriage to the charming and beautiful Susan--totally transparent with her about the kind of man I am.
We've found it necessary for a list of every site I visit on the Internet to be emailed both to a buddy and to the charming and beautiful Susan. She knows my schedule; who I meet with and how I spend my day at the office. When I go out of town, someone goes with me and if that's not possible, we have conversations--serious, in-depth, before, during, after conversations--about the details of my alone time while traveling. These days, it's almost not to have a way to check in often while on the road--even if my travel takes me to another country.
Hey, don't think for a second that this makes life any easier or temptation more bearable. It makes life a little harder and my wife and I are constantly faced with what a pig I really am. But I can't lose this woman. I can't imagine telling my son that I failed my wife. As I write this, the thought terrifies me. I'd rather inject little shards of glass into my veins than live the rest of my life with the consequences of a couple of exhilarating romps in the sack.
Long post, I know. Any thoughts?