I answered a call into ministry 16 years ago with a ton of baggage from my past. Some luggage was from choices I had made and some from the choices of others. I’d like to tell you that when I got into ministry all my baggage was thrown out to sea, but that wasn’t the case. Much of it I continued to carry as if it was the most important thing I owned. For me, the process was long because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I honestly had no idea how much baggage I was carrying. I couldn’t see the toll it was having on my wife and my ministry. There were times when I would have glimpses of my dysfunction but for the most part I made it a point to be busy enough where I wouldn’t have to deal with it. What I didn’t realize is that when you don’t deal with the baggage from your past you inadvertently pick up more baggage along the way. Think of it as dysfunctional coping.
Here are 3 ways that I God took me a part and put me back together again over the last 12 years:
1. My wife: I’ve told her before she is what I never knew I wanted. She’s weathered much in our journey. She’s been an instrument of God in allowing me to see who I really am and who I am not. Some painful conversations, some breath taking realizations and a ton of grace. Marriage is a sanctifying work of God.
2. Pastoral Mentors: These were men who saw God’s best in me and called it out. They weren’t afraid to say difficult things at pivotal moments in my life. They called me up in love and God gave me the grace to respond in a way that was helpful. I’m grateful to still have men in this role in my life. Pastors need Pastors. You never get too old for accountability and growth.
3. Counseling: I’m a big proponent of Christian counseling. I found a ton of help here. I was able have a sounding board with a professional that could help me have a satellite view of my baggage and was able to speak biblical truth into some lies I had believed for a long time. I know some have said they’ve done counseling and it was either not helpful or a bad experience. To that I would argue you would not stop going to medical doctors because of one bad experience. There are some great Christian Counselors out there.
3. Deep Friendships: There have been only a few men that have walked in deep friendship with me over the years. Those that could allow me to be myself without expectations, loved me without reserve and were willing to hold my feet to the fire when needed. Every man needs an ally in their life. God placed strategic allies in my life over the years to help propel me to major mile markers in my journey.
For some, God radically changes them overnight, others he changes over time. God continues to use people in concert in my life to allow me to trade in my baggage for fruit. (Gal. 5:22).