Recently, Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of evangelist Billy Graham, announced his resignation as senior Pastor from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida because of “ongoing marital issues” including he and his wife both having an affair. This isn’t the first time we have heard a story such as this, and it certainly won’t be the last.
My question is: why are we SHOCKED?
Most of us have in the back of our minds that leaders shouldn’t fall – especially not Christian leaders. They should have it all together.
OR, maybe we have deceived ourselves into thinking that there is this point in life when we (or at least those who lead us) become immune to failure, moral or otherwise. There should be a time when we have all of life figured out and somehow we “arrive.”
I wish that were true.
Temptation Never Ends
I remember hearing a very respected man once share that his greatest surprise at the end of life, was that he still struggled with temptation. That was so disappointing! I thought surely by then, the battle must be over…
Unfortunately, we have underestimated the opposition against us. If you’re a Christian, we believe that Satan is like a prowling lion just waiting for the opportune time to defeat us through discouragement, temptation, relational conflict, purposelessness, and more. If you’re not a Christian, think about all the heartache in relationships you’ve witnessed or experienced. It’s not difficult for any of us to see that we live in a world that is beautiful on the one hand, and yet very broken on the other.
Not only have we underestimated the opposition, but we have overestimated our ability to fight. Prone to fly through life with super hero mindsets, we fail to realize the degree to which we each need help in our own battles. For me that comes first and foremost through my relationship with God.
Pastor Tullian says he is not going into hiding, but will publicly share his journey even through his darkest hours in hopes of helping others. Recently he tweeted: “you’re more likely to be deluded about yourself when things are going good than when everything falls apart. Consequences awaken you.” (Italics mine.) Unfortunately, we don’t often comprehend the danger that lurks around us even when life is going well.
5 Steps To Protect Yourself
Decide today to take these 5 action steps to stay alert and avoid destruction in your life:
1. Be honest with yourself and God.
We all struggle with temptations of many kinds that can bring ruin to our lives. I know I do. In my lifetime I have lived selfishly, lusted after women, hated men, sought to gain what isn’t mine to have, raged against God, and more. God knows all this, because He and I have talked about it–all of it–a lot. And it helps. He helps.
2. Discover why you struggle in the areas you do.
We are all prone to certain areas of struggles in life; often it is because of what we were exposed to as children. Did you grow up in an abusive or dysfunctional home where you had to lie a lot in order to be safe? You may struggle with the tendency to lie today. Was spending money or eating food for comfort something you witnessed or experienced growing up? That may be why it is such a battle for you today.
In my life, I often felt weak and inadequate as a boy. That at least partially explains why so often I would hesitate or avoid altogether the tough things in life. Keeping the understanding of our history in mind, can provide the extra motivation needed to do what is right in the present.
3. Don’t go it alone.
Throughout my life I have had at least one if not several people who I have invited into those areas of life where I have struggled the most. I am strengthened, encouraged, prodded, and challenged as I do. I need that. So do you.
4. Ask God (and keep asking Him) to satisfy the emptiness inside and provide for you all that you need. Don’t stop until He does!
Every temptation promises to meet a need or fulfill a satisfaction – and it is a lie. Jesus said that He is the Living Water and the Bread of Life. If you are a follower of Christ you have heard that many times. But what exactly did He mean?
Water and food are needed to sustain life. Jesus promises to provide things we need like security (Matt 6:33), comfort (John 14:16) , and strength (Psalm 28:7). Food and water also satisfy. Jesus promises to fill the emptiness we all experience deep inside and give meaning to life (Ps 107:9). Keep asking God for this to be true in your own life. Don’t stop asking Him until it is!
5. Stay on guard!
After spending 40 days tempting Jesus, the Bible tells us that Satan left to look for a more opportune moment. This an incredible insight about how Satan operates. He looks for opportune moments to come against each of us. When are your most opportune moments–where you are most weak and vulnerable to temptation? Be on guard–for he is likely to tempt you at those times!
Question: What other action steps would you add to stay alert and avoid destruction in your life and marriage? You can leave a comment by clicking here.