Recovery With a Purpose

Dave Boyle

What is the purpose of life?  This is a question that many people have asked themselves over the last couple of years since the book The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren was released. In fact so many people have been asking themselves that question, that the book has been either number one or two on the New York Times best seller list for the past 60+ weeks.

And it’s a question that we, as men who have struggled with sexual integrity issues, should be asking ourselves on a regular basis. The Every Man’s Battle Workshop has made it very clear to us: we need structure in our lives if we are going to be successful in our recovery. And at the very core of having a structure in place, is having a purpose in life. In other words, it’s a lot easier to implement an action plan in our lives when we know why we’re doing it.

In The Purpose Driven Life, pastor Rick sets out the five purposes that he believes are the most fundamental and most important in any believers life.

The first one is that we were made to worship God. The very first line of the book is, ‘It’s not about you.’ The sooner that we realize that our lives are about worshiping, obeying and pleasing God and not about pleasing ourselves, the sooner our recovery can begin. Remember one of the big roadblocks to recovery? It’s entitlement. ‘I deserve to get on the Internet with how stressful my life has been.’ ‘I’m entitled to have that affair with the way my wife’s been treating me.’ But God says it isn’t about me, it’s about Him, and working through that sense of entitlement to get to a place where I’m obedient to God whether I feel like it or not is a huge recovery step.

The second purpose that Rick outlines in his book is that we were made to have fellowship with other believers. There is no such thing as a ‘lone ranger’ Christian. Our recovery is so tied in to having others around us that it is one of the most important things you’ll ever do in your journey to sobriety. If you are not part of a support group, please start exploring that right away. You cannot do this on your own.

The third purpose in the book is that we were made to be like Christ. That kind of maturity takes work, which is why it is the very first thing of your action plan that we talk about at EMB. Spend at least 15 minutes in the Word and in prayer every day. No one can become mature in Christ without spending time in His Word and in prayer.

Rick’s fourth purpose that he talks about in the book is that we were made to serve God. And most of serving God is serving His children. If you’ve been in recovery awhile now and have some sobriety time behind you, this is a good time to start practicing some of the gifts God has given you to help others. You may want to step up in your support group and start providing some leadership, or start actively looking for another guy to be a sponsor or accountability partner with. God doesn’t want you on the sidelines, and He doesn’t want you just showing up but not contributing from the gifts he has given you. Pray for a servant’s heart, and for God to open the door for you in ministry.

And finally, we were made for a mission. And that mission is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, whether that be actively witnessing to our friends, family, co-workers or neighbors, or sharing with other guys in recovery what God has done for you. Read over what the 12th step says sometime. The bottom line is you can’t keep it unless you give it away.

These are five of God’s purposes for your life. Go back over them and see which one is most lacking in your life, and in your recovery, and pray this week that God will help you to implement it. And then go for it.  See what exciting things God brings into your life!

For more help on this subject see Every Man’s Battle.

What’s in Your Hand?

Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘What is that in your hand?’ ‘A staff,’ he replied. God said, ‘Throw it on the ground.'” – Exodus 4:2 (NIV)

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re wondering what some obscure Old Testament verse has to do with recovery, and particularly recovery in the sexual integrity realm. Well, as we look at it a little more closely, I think you’ll see it has a lot to do with it.

At this point in his life, Moses was a shepherd, and the shepherd’s staff would have been one of the most useful tools he possessed. So first and foremost, it represented his identity. Every shepherd had one, it was the thing that identified them from other people with other occupations. Secondly, it represented his source of income. It was the thing that kept the sheep in line, and that kept them from wandering off or getting into dangerous situations. It was the thing that enabled him to do his job, and earn a living. And thirdly, it represented his influence on other people, as we see later when he uses it to, through God’s power, part the Red Sea. In short, the staff represented the very essence of Moses.

Give me your whole life,
Who you are!
What you do!
How you act!

So when God tells Moses to throw it down on the ground, it’s not just to perform some fancy trick with a snake, it’s a way of saying, ‘I want you to give me your whole life, who you are, what you do, and how you act. I want you to throw it down before me and let me have it, and let me make you into the man I want you to be.’ What’s your identity? Is it the good father and husband at church, but the one who flirts with and can’t keep his eyes off the secretaries at work? God wants you to throw down that which identifies you with sexual impurity; let Him have it, and let Him change you.

Or how about your source of income? Are you in a job that pays well but is adding to your internet pornography struggle that you can’t seem to get a handle on? Afraid to step out in faith that God has a better job somewhere that will boost your recovery rather than hinder it? God wants you to throw it down, let Him have it and let Him change you.

Or how about your sphere of influence? Do you have leadership gifts that you know God has blessed you with, but you can’t seem to break that addiction to prostitutes or massage parlors? You know you could be a good influence over many people, but right now your gifts are just being wasted? God wants you to throw it down, let Him have it and let Him change you.

Throwing down sexual sin
requires one thing:
submission to God.

Throwing down sexual sin requires one thing: submission to God. It requires saying, ‘God, you know best, and I’m going to give it to you.’ And the best way to ‘give it to God’ is to follow the action plan that Joe gave you at Every Man’s Battle. It requires spending time in God’s Word and in prayer. It requires having an accountability relationship, and a support group of other strugglers. It requires meeting with a spiritual mentor for guidance, and it may require seeing a professional Christian counselor to get at some of the deep-seated wounds that you haven’t felt comfortable dealing with.

Most of all it requires saying, ‘God, everything I am and have is yours, and I throw it down before you, and give it to you.’ Then you’re ready to be sexually pure, and ready to be used in a mighty way by God.

To find a Christian counselor or coach in your area, just call 1-800-NEW-LIFE.

Dave Boyle

How’s Your Plan Working?

For some of you reading this, Every Man’s Battle is still a fresh experience; you’re still on the mountain top, and your recovery is exciting. For others who may be a year or two removed from an EMB workshop, things have drifted back to the routine, and some of the ‘warm fuzzies’ of the workshop have faded. Whichever group you find yourself in, one thing is for sure: for your recovery to be successful and meaningful, it will be extremely important to stick to the action plan that you developed at EMB.

One of the hardest parts about sticking to the action plan, is that sometimes it gets a little mundane, a little routine. I can still picture Joe, in sweatshirt and jeans, flexing his muscles while reminding us that as guys, we’re more ‘hero’ oriented than ‘routine’ oriented. ‘Give me a burning house and a baby, and I’ll show you what a hero I can be,’ he’d say. ‘But ask me to take out the trash or get up 15 minutes earlier to put on coffee for my wife? C’mon, that’s a little boring.’ Yet that’s what recovery is all about, doing the mundane, doing the routine, and doing it consistently.

What’s the action plan that I am talking about? Well, by way of a little refresher, let’s go over the things that Joe and the EMB staff want us to do after we leave EMB. I am not going to go into the detail that Joe does, but I’ll hit the highlights. One of the things is to make sure to get an accountability partner and an accountability group. Find someone who isn’t afraid to ask you the tough questions, and who will see through if you’re trying to manipulate. This person does not have to be in recovery from sexual addiction themselves, although that is helpful, but they do need to be available, and willing to meet with you on a weekly basis; and they do need to be honest with you and demand honesty from you. If you’re married, it’s important that this person have full access to your wife, and can call her about anything that is going on in your life that is inappropriate.

Another part of the plan is for you to be seeing your pastor, or someone in leadership at your church. This will help you stay spiritually focused. And speaking of staying spiritually focused, starting off your day with some prayer and Bible reading is the best way to let your Heavenly Father know you’re grateful for all of the gifts He has given you.

Recovery is all about: doing the mundane, doing the routine, doing it consistently!

In all of the follow up calls I’ve done with EMB alumni, I have never once had a guy who was struggling or who had relapsed tell me that he was closely following his action plan. On the flip side, most of the guys who are doing well are doing most or all of their action plan. How are you doing with your follow up plan? If you don’t have a church home, call New Life–we may have a referral for a church in your area. And if you’re not spending any time with the Lord during the day, carve out 15 minutes today to do that. They may not sound like the most exciting things in the world, but it’s the ordinary things in life that we do consistently that keep us in recovery.