By Mark A. Taylor
“If we’d confess more of our temptations, we’d have fewer sins to confess!”
That observation from a Christian counselor several years ago has never left me. And it rang in my ears again as we prepared this week’s troubling lead articles for publication.
Think what could have happened if only each Christian leader mentioned here had been honest with someone about his temptations. Reputations and ministries could have been saved. Whole lifetimes of heartbreak could have been prevented. Sin could have been avoided.
But we hesitate to confess our temptations—let alone our sins—for two reasons. First is fear: we’re afraid we’d be rejected or exposed by anyone who knew the compromises we have considered or committed. Beneath this is pride: We’re ashamed for anyone to know our serious imperfections.
As Jud Wilhite observes on his blog at the new Web site www.deadlyviper.org, our culture has become obsessed with perfection and excellence:
Failure is not an option and the pressure to perform is certainly felt by all leaders. Unfortunately, this is a recipe for disaster and lacks a holistic view of life. . . . No one bats a 1.000 in baseball OR integrity. We all have junk. The key is to learn, and grow, and when we are knocked down to get back up and try again.
Jud with Mike Foster coauthored Deadly Viper Character Assassins to help leaders make good decisions in the areas of honesty, generosity, relationships, and sexuality. Notice that sexual failure is not the only character assassin they discuss. Each of these problems relates to all the others. Sexual sin is seldom a person’s first or only failing.
Confession can be a catalyst for the learning, growth, and perseverance Jud advocates. But it must be practiced carefully. This is not a proposal for wholesale airing of dirty laundry. We must be able to trust those who hear our secrets. Only then can we embrace a system that holds us accountable to correct and learn from each other’s mistakes. Achieving this requires time and a willingness to depend on each other. But many men have perfected the skill of keeping friends at arm’s length.
The deadlyviper.org site offers tips for breaking down the barriers. (Peruse team development and personal plan under the next steps tab.) “We have business plans, financial plans, marketing plans, and retirement plans,” the site reminds us. “So what are your plans to address the issues of character and integrity this year?”
Each of us would rather pursue a positive plan than chase after a remedy for shame. Maybe this week’s articles can move us to actions that will keep us whole.