I became a born again Christian in 2004 after almost dying from cocaine addiction.
It was the day after my second relapse. I was at my parent’s house in Battle Ground, WA trying to sleep as long as possible because I didn’t want to face what I’d done the night before.
I remember getting out of bed and walking into the bathroom feeling completely hopeless.
9 months before that I had went through the nation’s best rehab program (it cost about $28,000).
I was attending AA meetings faithfully. I was seeing a psychiatrist to treat my mental disorders. And I was seeking “God” and trying to be spiritual.
In other words, I was trying to stay clean and sober. But I couldn’t. And that sucked.
So I walked into the bathroom, locked the door and tried to cry but I couldn’t even do that. I couldn’t do anything!
That’s when I prayed one of the most honest prayers of my life. I don’t know why but I just said, “Jesus, if you’re real save me.”
I’ve never used drugs since that day.
In fact, I’ve never even had another craving for drugs since then, which is nothing short of miraculous. Before that I would get physical sensations whenever I talked about cocaine or heard the word coke.
It was like something in my body was responding to something it felt it had to have. I don’t really know how to explain it.
But I know I would start to feel crazy, even if I was just sharing my story about what my life used to be like when I was using. But after that day I never had one of those physical sensations, even when giving detailed accounts of my past using history.
This was the first of many miracles I experienced. Shortly after that I was healed of bi-polar and ADHD.
Up until that point I was on three medications, trying to find the right mix to make me normal. But I still wrestled with suicidal thoughts and there were many days I’d sleep ’til noon, just trying to sleep my life away.
After my spiritual experience the first thing I noticed was that I had a new feeling, that I later realized was called “hope.”
All I knew was that instead of feelings of impending doom about the future I had a feeling things could actually be good.
It was new. And I liked it. So I gave in to it. I started going down a new path.
It was one month before my 21st birthday when I prayed that prayer on the bathroom floor. I’ll be 33 next month. A lot has happened in the last 12 years.
After I got saved I thought I would devote my life to “full-time ministry.”
I went through a training at my church called Pastors in Progress and started checking out Bible Colleges to attend. I visited Portland Bible College and sat in on a day’s worth of classes to see if it was the right place for me.
During this time my pastor started talking to me about planting a church of my own. I remember attending a “church planting dinner” in Portland and started to get excited about starting a new church.
I was 21 years old. Ha! I’m so glad I didn’t start that church.
I can’t even fathom how crazy and dysfunctional it would have been under my “leadership” at the mature age of 21, fresh out of a life of drug dealing and addiction.
Instead I went down a different path. I became an entrepreneur.
I started my professional career in sales and spent about 5 years selling insurance.
I quit that job 6 years ago (2011) to start my own freelance copywriting business, which I’ve owned since. And over the last 2 years I’ve been working on making the transition from being self-employed to being a real business owner.
One of the things I’m most grateful for is that by God’s grace I was able to understand that just because I feel like I have a “calling” on my life doesn’t mean I have to be a pastor.
When I was 21 I thought if I wanted to make my life count and do something worthwhile I had to serve in church full-time.
I remember thinking, this is what I should do.But I wanted to go into business.
For a while I assumed this was one of those inner conflicts between God’s will and mine
Of course God would want me to start a church. A business on the other hand was something I wanted. It sounded fun and exciting. But it felt selfish.
So I created a False Dilemma for myself.
Thankfully I finally got delivered from this way of thinking.
I started to learn about people who were making a difference without being in full-time ministry.
I read books like 48 Days To the Work You Love by Dan Miller. Dan talked about work being something God created and how important it was to find or create work you love.
I prayed and journaled about it and finally felt like I had permission to pursue business instead of full-time ministry.
Once I felt like I had a green light I was off to the races!
I’ve crashed and burned more than I like to admit but I’m so happy I went down this path. And I feel like it’s just the beginning.
I still think a lot about church and where my place is in God’s family. I honestly still struggle a lot with church culture and the dead religious mindsets that prevail in so many churches.
One thing that really bothers me is how so many churches approach the subject of money, business and work.
Most the time those things are considered “worldly” and looked down upon. And there’s a subtle, if not outright, message that says: If you want to live a meaningful life for God then you will forsake these things and go into full-time ministry.
If you decide to sell all your possessions and move to Africa to become a full-time missionary (where other people, those less spiritual ones who still work “secular jobs,”will support you) then you’re doing it right.
But if you throw yourself into building a business or pursuing excellence in your career then you are only “sort of” doing it right.
I hate that. It’s a bunch of crap. And it’s this way of thinking that keeps so many Christians from pursuing their dreams.
When this happens the church abdicates it’s place in the world and instead of being a force that influences culture it settles for creating it’s own “church world” where it makes up it’s own rules and definitions for success.
When churches do this they become no different then colleges that create a false sense of reality for their students, “equipping and preparing” students for a world that doesn’t exist!
They graduate with a piece of paper, enter the real world and realize they don’t possess the most basic skills needed to succeed.
And by succeed I don’t mean becoming a millionaire, I mean success as in “getting a job!”
It’s easy for us Christians to see how irrelevant and ineffective colleges are at training and empowering people. But we fail to see our own faults in the “church world.”
Instead of doing the hard thing and confronting these issues we sweep them under the rug. And as soon as someone starts to lift up the rug and say, “Hey, what’s that? What about money and work and stuff?”
As soon as that happens the religious spirit flexes it’s muscles and “inspires” more sermons, books and teachings on how “the world is going to burn!” sS no sense being part of it or trying to improve it.
When this doesn’t work there’s always the option of demonizing anything to do with wealth, money and business as being part of the dreaded “Prosperity Gospel.”
…if we’re not “careful” about who we listen to we may inadvertently invite mammon monsters to sneak into our closets at night and suck out our souls while we sleep!
In other words, one of the primary strategies the religious elite uses to keep people enslaved is to control the agenda.
Instead of listening to people who say, “Hey, you know what, that sermon last week about when the rapture may happen was interesting. But what would really be helpful would be some teachings on how to pay our bills each month so we’re not as stressed out.”
“You know I spend 2 hours a week at church, which I love, but I spend 45 hours a week at my job, which I hate. I feel like it’s sucking the life from me. And when I get home I have no energy left to be the husband and father I want to be.”
Can you help me with this?
No, sorry, I feel like you’re trying to pull things out of the rug and we prefer to just leave them there.
Last time we tried to mess with that it created so much dust it made everybody start coughing and irritated our eyes.
But I’ll pray for you.
You’re welcome. God bless you.