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Overcoming Addictions - Help for Christians

Christians and non-Christian alike battle with addictions and other behaviors that they find themselves struggling to leave behind. Through faith in Jesus Christ and placing emotional and spiritual health as attainable goals, we can all be overcomers.

This blog, produced by Certified Recovery Specialist Beth Livingston, is for people to exchange struggles and victories of breaking free from addictions and other hurtful behaviors.

The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

preacher holding up a Bible

by Beth Livingston
Certified Recovery Specialist

Certainly, we’ve all heard about the scandals of some of the famous preachers (Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard, etc.) who had their secret sins exposed and they stepped down from the ministry. But what about your everyday Christian, serving in God’s work as a minister, Sunday School teacher or other leadership position - how does it affect the body of Christ when they live secret lives?

Personally, I think there are a lot of people serving in God’s ministry who have addictions or naughty secrets of some kind. I was one of them. You may be one of them. If your behavior were exposed, how would it affect those you lead or teach? Would you still go to your church after it came out? Or would you be so embarrassed that you’d stop going or find another church?

How does it feel to be hiding something about yourself to your Christian friends? You would think it would eat at you every hour. But it doesn't always work that way. For me, since I was convinced to my core that there was nothing wrong with smoking pot, I wasn't really convicted in my soul of any danger to anyone. I had a secret. I knew I didn't want the preacher or anyone else from the church stopping by unannounced if I were smoking it. But, other than that, I wasn't concerned. There were plenty of people who knew nothing about my addiction.

I taught Sunday School to five-year-olds. They loved me and I loved them. I didn’t ever go to church and teach with a buzz. I kept my supply well hidden at home and never had it with me in my car or anywhere else. But during the week I smoked pot. Funny thing is - until I thought about the possibility of my pot smoking being found out, I didn’t think much of it.

I love how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. He began to show me how the children would be affected if I were exposed in our church body. They looked up to me. They trusted me. They saw Jesus in me. Their tender hearts would be confused and discouraged if it got out that Miss Beth smoked pot. Of course, there would be the public shame to go along with it – and the shame that my own children would feel for having their mother exposed as a pothead. I began to take this to God in prayer regularly to please help me.

My life was still steeped in the addiction, so the Lord laid it on my heart to voluntarily step down from the ministry before any damage was done to the young hearts He was building up for His Kingdom by my secret life being exposed. This was one of the toughest things I ever did. My heart broke over leaving a ministry that I loved and broke even more when I realized that something had such a hold on me that I would give up leading these beautiful young children because of it.

However, God used that small step of righteousness in the process of healing me and setting me free. If I could not give it up, I needed to cleanse the ministry of myself. My question to you is:  are you serving with a secret that would damage the church, the body of Christ? Are you willing to face it head on and get rid of it and keep on serving? Or do you need to do like I did and step down before you’re cut down?

My brothers and sisters, what does God want you to do?

Print      Email to a Friend    posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 9:17 AM

Comments on this post

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

I have also had a double life. There I was in the choir and ministering to others, especially younger people, including my kids, but had an addiction to online porn. Even when I confessed to my wife that I had that weakness, I still had to be on my guard and still messed up, a lot. I prayed and fasted, then went into it, again. It was a vicious cycle of ministry and praying and fasting and online again. The Holy Spirit showed me that I had to break the cycle because I was welcoming a perverted sprit in my home. I am free now, praise God Almighty, but I have to always, always be on guard for what others may view as simple. The Holy Spirit became my best friend through all of this. God bless you. Keep holding on.
Left by Philly on Jun 24, 2009 10:17 PM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

Thank you Philly for sharing about your struggle and encouraging me as well.

My husband had a weakness for online porn as well and it nearly wrecked our marriage. It is so easy to slip into - and so determined to keep hold of a person once they've ventured there (pop-ups!). The Holy Spirit got us through that too. Hallelujah!

God bless us all and keep us protected from that which seeks to destroy us.
Left by blivingston on Jun 25, 2009 8:59 AM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

You also brought up a very true and bothersome part of the struggle - the cycle of getting closer to God, closer to being free and then finding yourself involved again. It can be very discouraging.
Left by blivingston on Jun 25, 2009 9:19 AM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

i have also lived the double life of addiction
i smoked also but only thru the grace of God
that i have survived, icannot explained why
or how i was saved only believe there is a God
who forgives sinners like me
Left by helen on Jun 25, 2009 2:51 PM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

I don't understand why I keep going back to that which I know wants to destroy me. Please pray for me.
Left by broken on Jul 01, 2009 8:54 AM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

Pray for me too!! It's the Romans 7 battle for me. To whoever is reading this. If you know God, keep me in prayer that I'll make it through. I know I will and already have, in Jesus's name. Amen!!!
Left by nuttin2somethin on Jul 01, 2009 6:44 PM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

PT. 1

Michael grew up under the crushing hand of an abusive alcoholic father. As an altar boy, he suffered mental and emotional abuse at the hands of the clergy. Soon, Michael turned his back on the church - and God - for over 20 years. Unfortunately God’s presence took a back seat to his anger, resentment and disappointment. It was during this period he indulged in many self-destructive behaviors.

But he never forgot the “God of his youth”, and a relationship that nourished and protected him when he was very young.

Twenty years go by, and Michael is married and fully invested in his chosen profession, yet still angry at God. It was in the rooms of Al-Anon where Michael rediscovered his faith in a God that cares and began the challenging journey back to the “God of his youth”.

But God wasn’t through with Michael. In 1985, having a profound spiritual experience, he rededicated his life to the Lord, accepting God’s forgiveness, mercy and grace for his past indiscretions.
Left by Michael G., Author on Jul 22, 2009 11:14 AM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

PT. 2

But God wasn’t through with Michael. In 1985, having a profound spiritual experience, he rededicated his life to the Lord, accepting God’s forgiveness, mercy and grace for his past indiscretions. The Scriptures became alive to him. He devoured the Scriptures at every opportunity. Since then, he has been in leadership in various churches.

But God had more blessings for Michael. He hit another bottom when his attorney job ended. Shortly after that he attended Sierra Tucson for treatment of his codependency, grief and other unresolved issues. This was another turning point in his life.

Michael uses his experience as a lawyer and Christian Life Coach to be of greater service to others.

Michael also facilitates several church groups, including Safe Harbor, a Christian 12 step recovery ministry, and DivorceCare.

Left by Michael G., Author on Jul 22, 2009 11:23 AM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

I was able to overcome my addiction to alcohol be seeking out people with similar experiences and talking to them. But not without first asking God to help me to get sober. He used the pain of my alcoholism to finally get me to finally wake up and pay attention. Yet another example of God using pain in our lives as a teacher. My sobriety has been a wonderful gift an set me on a path of a relationship with Christ.

Left by Anonymous on Jul 22, 2009 4:19 PM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

I to have been living a double life. After being saved and walking with Christ for over 7 years, I went back into my habit of smoking cigarrettes. I hid it from my children because I hadn't smoked since they were young. I talked the talk of a christian and walked the walked. Although I made mistakes they saw me as a christian and knew I meant it. After hiding this awful habit for several months, my children now know I smoke cigarrettes and it has had an affect on my daughter who wants me to quit. If I truly loved the Lord, why did I do this to Him. I hate that I smoke but, yet I do. I wonder if I really want to quit. I don't attend church anymore like before. I'd rather be home. I miss walking with the Lord, seems like I just can't be faithful enough. I don't know what to do. Please pray for me. Have I lost my salvation although I know in my heart and I believe Jesus died for me and God raised Him from the dead? I hate this place that I am in.
Left by Stephanie on Aug 05, 2009 1:42 PM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

Stephanie, you are not alone. God's Word is full of evidence that while we are in these bodies we struggle with our flesh and with sin. It also is full of reminders that when we belong to Christ, no one can snatch us from His hand. My prayer is that you don't give up, that you open His Word and return to a vibrant body of believers at a Bible believing church.

Lord, please renew Stephanie's faith in your love for her. Please help her to forgive herself for returning to smoking and please help her not let that successfully drive a wedge between her and You. Help her to see that you have missed her and are waiting for her to come back to the foot of the cross and lay down all her burdens for you to carry. This is your promise to us Lord, that you came to set the captives free. You said that if anyone confesses with their mouth the Lord Jesus, and believes in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead, they shall be saved. Please renew my sister Stephanie. She's been beat up.
Left by blivingston on Aug 05, 2009 6:35 PM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

Ihave had an addiction to online pornography for a long time. I was never really feeling the affects of it until it was discovered by my girlfriend whom I have now lost because of it. It is not an addition that you can get rid of slowly. It is one that you have to stop cold turkey...I stop for weeks and sometimes months at a time, but i slip back to it again.
I ask God to help keep me from it but I know I have to help myself as well as help from Him. I know that I will beat this addition, but I do ask that you all pray for me. And if any of you are in this same situation, I p[ray for you as is a difficult thing to get out nof.The first thing we have to do is admit our guilt to God and ask His forgiveneness. Ask for Him to rain blessings down on us and to drive that devil spirit out of our homes and out of our lives. Go around your home and in each room, say a prayer and tell the devil to flee from your home. Ask God to come into your home and keep it in peace. In Jesus name
Left by K.T. on Aug 14, 2009 7:15 PM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

thanks. for this. I need to deal with some issues and I believe God is showing me just how deal this thing can go. Instead of getting angry anymore I am going to get away from negative people and do whatever it takes as to not effect the ones coming behind me, thanks for your honesty.
Left by meme on Sep 30, 2009 7:34 PM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

God be with you meme as you make these positive changes in your life.
Left by blivingston on Sep 30, 2009 8:00 PM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

Isn't wonderful how scripture counsel us: Think it not strange these fiery trials you go through, that others have gone before you, and have made it through".
God Bless all of us that have been there, and through His mercy, provided us with an escape, made us whole again. AMEN
Left by Carol on Oct 13, 2009 9:47 PM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

Reading your story inspired me to reach out to others. I too am a double-agent of sort, reason being I'm serving the Lord and as much as I hate to say it partying with with the devil! That was hard to type!!! Anyway I been keeping this thing to myself for over a year now and It's getting old and my relationship with my wife is slowly deterating. My wife leads the praise and worship and I am in charge of the sound ministry among others. I am deep in the Word, I do know how to break strongholds and casting out, I just don't do it!!! Do I have a lazy spirit? Of coarse, and lots of even stronger spirits. I'm constantly crying by myself behind the curtains and asking God for constant forgiveness. I'm still using (don't even get a buzz anymore) I feel at times that God is going to use my testamony to help others but Im a re-tread getting sober isn't the promblem staying sober is. I can't seem to get past the three year mark well this time I did make to 40 months.
Left by BrotherEd on Feb 09, 2010 8:59 PM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

Getting rid of bad habits or addictions isn't easy. I got rid of my computer and removed the hard drive and will destroy it. I made a commitment to the Lord that I would not look at porn and try to stay in the Word, attend Men's meetings that deal with such sins, constantly be on my guard, and immediately confess my sins when I see something I should not on TV or think about things I should not think about. Binding, rebuking and casting out spirits of addictions has helped. Being accountable first to the Lord, then to a trusted friend has helped me. (iron sharpens iron) Prov. 27:17
Left by IGV on Nov 04, 2010 5:55 PM

# RE: The Double Life of a Sunday School Teacher

I am a recovering cocaine addict/alcoholic who was in the grip of destruction for nearly 25 years. I tried everything to get away from it, nothing worked, until I asked the Lord for His power, on a daily basis, to strengthen me to stay clean and sober. Say please in the morning, and thank you in the evening. I can do nothing apart from Jesus, and with Him ALL things are possible. I am a living testimony of His power and His love. I pray to see my need for a Saviour, I never thought I needed anyone but myself. HE has place people and circumstances in my life. I give HIM the glory. It took a very long time for me to surrender, and I still have to do this daily. Allow God to work in my life, and I have to do my part, too. Life is alot better now. I am available to help my Mom, she is going through chemotherapy, I have a job, got my license back and am in the process of making financial amnends to the state of Fl. Satan tried to deceive me with guilt so I would not go to church. Big liar!!
Left by Debbie on Nov 04, 2010 9:48 PM