Dad's Approval

Alan always wondered if he had his dad's approval. As a result, he attempted to earn his father's respect at every turn: at every turn on the track (Alan was a dedicated track runner); at every turn of the badge (Alan rose to the rank of Eagle scout); at every turn on the road to church (Alan never missed a youth group function). He was even labeled a "Jesus Freak" by a girl in his class. Alan constantly strove to buy the love his father wasn't selling.

A man will seek to receive from sexual escapades the intimacy that he never received from his father. Alan was one such man. Alan hid his darkness under what was a sincere desire to serve the Lord. He rocked back and forth on the sea of temptation for several years. Perhaps getting married will help, he thought. At the age of 27, his nagging colleagues in ministry rejoiced when his engagement was announced. The man they had bugged for years was finally putting his Eagle Scout knot-tying skills to use in a relational way.

Three years later, after the birth of a son, another sabotage of sexual temptation got the best of him and his marriage. Pornography, nights in the sports bars, and the last straw of going home with one of the "bar-rats" broke the marriage's back. Alan's wife retreated to her home town and to the faded dreams of her youth. She would never return to the marriage. Who could blame her?

During his 12-year stint at the church, Alan did touch the hearts of many people. For a man who got paid to touch people, it's ironic that his life was pummeled by what and whom he could not keep from touching. But why? What were the issues?

Isolation: Alan never let anyone get intimately close to him because of his ...

Fear: fear of losing his job and reputation; fear of exposing his ...

Inferiority: from his youth, Alan never received the confidence that his life had ...

Significance: he looked for this in all the wrong places.

Alan did not understand these paradoxes:

  1. The strongest is the one who shows weakness.
  2. Sincere, loving believers embrace the one who confesses sin; they don't reject him.
  3. Respect grows for the man who admits weakness; it is not destroyed.
  4. When a man conceals sin from his family and his church in an attempt to keep them, he always ends up losing them.
  5. When a man brings sin out into the open, he does not lose his family and his job, he becomes more effective in those roles.

Jesus knew a paradox that unites all these in Matthew 16:25: "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it."

The key to confessing sin and overcoming it is humility. Jesus, the only man who had a right to be proud, modeled humility even though he never sinned. He did so because he knew it was the way to real life and freedom, two things Alan has not found.

Article copyright © 1999, Focus on the Family.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Used by permission.

Kevin Thompson was a student at the Focus on the Family Institute in Colorado Springs, Colo., and was interning in the Pastoral Ministries department when he wrote this article in 1999.