COLUMN: What’s the reality behind your closed doors?

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By John Lapp

The phone rang late one Saturday evening. It was an unusual call from someone I had known for quite some time.
With halting voice, and occasional sobs, he said, “Do you have a few moments to talk with me?” I answered, “Of course, what’s wrong? You sound very troubled. Is your wife alright?”
He said as calmly as he could, “Yes, she’s alright. It’s not about her, it’s about me.”
What followed for the next several minutes was one of the most agonizing presentations of pain I had ever experienced, as he barely choked out the words, “I need your help.”
Trying to remain calm for his sake, I said, “Try to calm down enough to tell me what I can do for you.” I had known this friend for a few years and had many times engaged with him in lengthy discussions, even mild debates. But I can honestly say that I was unprepared for the things he told me. He had been what appeared to be the senior pastor of a growing and thriving congregation in my local city, and was generally admired for the work that had been accomplished.
What he eventually told me for the next few minutes was that he had been viewing pornographic material for quite some time while supposedly preparing his many sermons to be presented to his church family. All of this was being done at his office and study area at the facility where the church was located.
What followed that phone call was an attempt to help him break free from this longstanding addiction from which he had reportedly been free of for many, many years until more recently.
My attempt was genuine in nature as I had been adequately trained for many years, attending seminars and educational programs taught by some of the best and most respected professionals available. However, I must admit, all of my training and as much effort as I put forth for this friend was met with what seemed like a measure of genuine effort, but resulted in very little progress. He had so ingrained himself for so many months, years perhaps, in the pursuit of this way of life that he seemed to be unable to break free.
The counseling came to an abrupt ending, and he never again contacted me, but sadly I learned that he was relieved of his duties as the pastor and ultimately went through a bitter divorce.
My contact with his wife revealed that her already bad health had nearly taken her life and she had been devastated, as had a couple of their now adult children.
Now, the example just presented was not done for any other reason than to point out that what may appear to be the picture of moral, wholesome, living is not always the real picture.
In my many years of doing counseling, I’ve been intimately acquainted with many ministers from different denominational backgrounds and have never met another pastor whose life drifted as did this one. Most of those who are placed in positions of this type are very conscious of the responsibility placed on them.
What needs to be stated here is very important, namely what was written many years ago by some unknown author, and it reads like this:
“You can fool some of the people all the time, and you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time, and, be careful, you cannot fool God any of the time.”
Now, please don’t take this as anything more than a gentle, kind, loving teaching to those of you who may gain some help from this.
Make sure that you, as a husband or wife, father or mother, continue to be the person you want to be known to be.
What I hope you will do, with what is an attempt at teaching a moral principle of life, is be genuine, be real, have no facades.
Break away from a false presentation, if that has happened in your life, and be willing to be all that God expects you to be, even with your flaws, deficiencies, weaknesses and certain traits, still in tact.
God doesn’t expect perfection, but expects an attempt to do what is right, just because it is right to do right.
Ask him to help you in this area of your life. You’ll be happy with the results for the effort made, and so will he, especially as you follow him in all your endeavors to be the real you. May God bless you for who you will attempt to be. Don’t quit in your efforts.
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