Are You Driven By Pain Or Passion?

Monica and I had the privilege of interviewing Sheila Walsh recently. Sheila was all over Christian radio in the 80’s, a talented singer songwriter, topping the charts.After that, she was a popular TV co-host on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson. After that, she checked herself into a psychiatric hospital for treatment of depression. Co-Host of the 700 Club in the morning, on the floor in a fetal position, under suicide watch that evening.

She shared with us her story (  Sheila’s Story ) which is more common than we dare to imagine. Many talented, authentic, anointed people are in public ministry ( church / music / radio ) – really helping others…yet are driven by their pain, more than their passion. Sheila put it this way, ” Some people deal with childhood stuff by hiding with food, work, drugs, or alcohol – I hid in Christian ministry. If I could have enough success, and help enough people,  maybe my pain would subside. It didn’t.”

I wept as we listened to her, because her story was my story. After years in church pastoral ministry and Christian radio, Monica filed for divorce. Two “Adult Children of Alcoholics”, we had no clue about  the wounds driving our behavior, much less how to untangle our mess, and our charade of a Christian marriage. For more of that story, see Long story short, we began to seek counseling, began to let the Lord into our individual broken places, and have the marriage we always hoped we could have.

One of the “Aha’s” I realized during a counseling session was that I suffered from depression, due to the traumatic childhood I had experienced. My father was an alcoholic, abusive physically & emotionally. After my mom’s death at age 9, he abandoned my brother and I, we ended up in a foster home. We were eventually reunited with him, only to suffer more abuse. I was literally homeless during stretches of high school & college.

Fast forward – after 15 years of trying to outrun my pain by helping enough people, my counselor called me out. He asked me what came to my mind when he said the word depression. I began to weep ( I cry a lot ). It was embarrassing – like I had been found out. It was also a relief – this thing that drove my behavior…this dark cloud that followed me,  had a name. I was able to address it with prayer, more focused counseling, and yes, meds, for a time to restore the missing chemical balance in my brain.

Sheila Walsh summed up her experience, and posed a very important question, ” Hiding in Christian ministry was perfect – what are they going to do, take my Bible away and have an intervention? Only God knows whether we’re ministering out of pain or passion.

You may be successful in your chosen work. Others may applaud you, as they did Sheila for years. You may have convinced yourself you’re doing what you do for the right reasons, but something’s not right. The truth be told, you lack real connection with spouse, kids, co-workers…often you feel like you’re faking it.

Is it possible you’re doing what you do out of unresolved pain? Is it possible that you, too, are trying to out run  a dark cloud that seems to stalk you? Freedom and deeper connections are possible. They start with awareness and honesty. We all have wounds that are deep…all of us. Admitting it, and letting the Lord into those broken places changes everything. That elusive abundant life thing is real. Too many of us settle. C.S Lewis said,

 “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

John 8:32 says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” That process of being set free is both instant ( salvation ) and ongoing, as we allow the Truth into every bandaged corner of our hearts. It is a life long process, not something we want to hear in our smartphone app crazy culture. There must be an app for that.

Francesca Battistelli’s song, If We’re Honest, sums it up,

“Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine, ‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side…If we’re honest…If we’re honest.”

If any of this resonates with you, feel free to email me:



“Familiarity Breeds Contempt” Vs. Loving Each Other Deeply

Like so much with us humans, there are sayings that are true in the natural realm, but antithetical to scripture, and who we really are. We’ve all heard the saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” The idea here is that the more we get to know others, the less we like them – friends, co- workers, family. As Christ-followers, we are faced with this tendency, while trying to “love each other deeply” (1 Peter 4:8 ). How do we do this?

Monica and I have found that many of the principles and techniques for improving our marriages, work for improving any relationship. One of the things we teach at marriage events is to “keep the issue the issue”, and not personalizing it. This keeps the disagreement from escalating. Because of our deep need to be right, we often personalize  an issue – with spouses,  friends, family, and co-workers.

We assign the problem to their character flaw, which builds contempt. Terms like “you always”, or “you never”, personalize an issue, and block resolution of the issue. We get defensive, get into score-keeping mode, and continue to feed contempt.Not only do we not resolve issues as a rule, we are doing the opposite of loving each other deeply.

A sad result of continued contempt in a relationship, is that we tend to hurt , discount , and demean those we say we love the most – those closest to us. Again, the Word of God has the answer to this conundrum. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7…

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Choosing love over contempt is a daily, hourly decision we’re confronted with at work and  at home. Disagreements happen. Keeping the issue the issue, and choosing not to personalize it, blocks contempt, and allows us to love each other deeply. Love is a choice, for family, friends , co-workers…and everyone the Lord brings across our paths every day.



Dudes Need Dudes.

I attended a mens’ conference this weekend. 700 dudes spent a day, listening to speakers challenge them on being the husbands and fathers they should be. The speakers were good, the sessions I sat in on were inspiring. There was healthy back and forth among guys between sessions about the content. One disturbing observation I made as the day wore on – there were way more older guys than younger guys.

In this social media driven culture, we are more connected than ever on a superficial level. Sadly, we are less connected on a deeper level. The old guys who aren’t on Instagram still do it the old fashioned way – in person. Good for them. Many old guys have given up on their marriage, relationship with kids,and, their relationship with God. These 700 guys spent a day pursuing improvement in these areas.

In our years of counseling couples, we have come to realize that men tend to isolate themselves – not because they don’t care – because they don’t know WHAT they’re feeling. ALL men are wounded, desperately in need of the healing of their hearts. Even the “best dads” wound kids.

John Eldredge, in Waking The Dead, said, ” Every man needs to have 2 questions answered by his father – Am I a Man? Do I measure up? To the degree they don’t get the answer, they spend the rest of their lives trying to prove to themselves, their father, and others, that they are, indeed a man.” Sadly, it’s never enough. There aren’t enough  cool cars, touchdowns, home runs, money or beautiful women to heal the wound.

What’s the answer?

Honesty is ground zero. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins one to another, that you might be healed.” Dudes need dudes. We need guys we can be honest with; guys we can pray, and, yes cry with. Guys we can talk about our brokenness with. Absent that, we men tend to isolate ourselves from our wives, kids, and God.

We also buy into the lie that we aren’t “good at intimacy”. It’s in our DNA -we are made in God’s image, the image of the Trinity, which is perfect relationship.  As Eldredge puts it, “We long for intimacy because we are made in the image of perfect  intimacy”.

Turns out, dudes really need dudes.

Stay Tuned.

They say experience is a great teacher. My friend and mentor John Maxwell says it’s actually evaluated experience that’s  a great teacher. I have felt the leading to re-launch my blog and share my journey with readers. I’ll write about my journey with Jesus, Monica and friends who have shared the road.

As I get older, I realize it’s important to expend energy on what really matters – faith, family, and service to others. I’ve failed often in all those arenas. The cool thing is, evaluated  experience is a great teacher. Stay tuned for lessons learned and  unlearned.