You made it here with a few scars. You haven’t always made the right choices. You may be just beginning the process of healing (or perhaps you completed that decades ago).
Perhaps some of your friends have a much smoother history. They did things “the right way” for the most part.
You might look at your friends and think, “Wow, I wish I had done it that way,” but here’s what you need to know.
You have something CRUCIAL your friends don’t possess. You have something absolutely essential to both the Body of Christ and the world at large.
You have MISTAKES!
Here’s why that’s actually a really good thing.
The Nature of Authority
I’ve never been shy about voicing my opinions.
I’m one of those weird individuals who actually enjoys confrontation.
I don’t have a problem “calling it like I see it”.
But over the years, I’ve come to realize something about what I do and (more importantly) DO NOT have authority to speak into.
My authority is based entirely on my experience.
If I’ve lived it, I have authority to speak into it. If I can relate to it, I have more power to bring insight into the issue than if I was simply speculating.
As a white person, I don’t have the authority to critically address black people.
As a man, I don’t have the authority to theorize on how women are experiencing something.
As a lifelong Christian, I don’t have the authority to speculate on what it means to grow up Muslim.
As a white, Christian man, I hold the MOST authority when I’m addressing white Christian men.
Sure, I can comment on anything I want to comment on, but I have the most authority when I’m speaking from personal experience, addressing those I understand best. I am most powerful communicating from what I know and where I’ve been.
Why I Can’t Help You Get Free
In the church, we often have this hierarchy of “holy” people. Priority #1 is avoiding sin, and whoever seems to be evading it best is given the most “authority” in our midst.
My personal record puts me near the top of that hierarchy.
- I never rebelled against God or the Church
- I never got into drugs or alcohol
- I was never excessively disrespectful to my parents
- I’ve never smoked
- I’m not addicted to porn
- I saved my virginity until marriage
On paper, I’m a textbook “good Christian man”. And while that’s all well and good, here’s the truth:
I have ZERO authority to help most people get free!
I don’t have the authority to get you free from addiction to drugs or alcohol.
I don’t have the authority to help you find healing from sexual immorality.
I don’t have the authority to bring you out of depression.
TLDR: I don’t have the authority to free you from something I haven’t experienced.
If you’re an alcoholic, you don’t need me trying to coach you from a place of ignorance.
YOU NEED SOMEONE WHO HAS BATTLED ALCOHOLISM AND WON.
If you’ve been abused, I can give you principles, but I don’t have the authority to get through to you. You probably need someone who has been there, dealt with that, and come out the other side.
I can come alongside you as a friend. I can love you like Jesus did. I can introduce you to Holy Spirit. I CAN demonstrate what health and wholeness looks like. But I am limited in what I can offer to you in the middle of the battle for freedom.
EVERY Mistake You’ve Ever Made Gives You Authority
Every mistake you’ve ever made has given you authority.
Let’s play soft ball.
You struggled with alcohol? You came out the other side? YOU HAVE THE KEYS to help anyone currently struggling with alcohol get free.
You were addicted to porn? You got free? YOU HAVE THE KEYS to help anyone struggling with porn get free.
Your irresponsibility got you into bad debt? You changed your habits and got out? YOU HAVE THE KEYS to help anyone struggling with financial responsibility get free.
Let’s get real: time for some hard ball.
You cheated on your wife? You repented and restored your marriage? YOU HAVE THE KEYS to help anyone struggling in this area.
You were abusive to your kids? You repented and changed your behavior? YOU HAVE THE KEYS to help anyone struggling in this area.
The nature of redemption is that EVERY one of your past failures now gives you authority.
You now have unique authority to bring freedom to any brokenness you’ve endured. I don’t have the authority. YOU have that authority.
When you bring your brokenness to Jesus, He replaces it with abundant life.
He doesn’t pretend it’s gone.
MUCH OF THE CHURCH IS PRETENDING THE SIN IS GONE.
- Yes, you’re forgiven, BUT… you’re that guy who cheated on your wife.
- Yes, you’re forgiven, BUT… we don’t trust you anymore.
- Yes, you’re forgiven, BUT… let’s be honest; you shouldn’t be in ministry.
If redemption simply calls you “righteous” while you remain broken, then Christianity is the world’s biggest scam.
BUT… if Jesus actually REPLACES your brokenness with wholeness and life, then you are free indeed.
You aren’t “that guy” anymore. “That guy” is dead. You are a new creation. You are a trustworthy son of God. You are called to minister the love of God wherever you go.
You are NOT a second class Christian.
And guess what? You now have authority to bring freedom into every place of brokenness you left behind.
I don’t have this same authority. I ONLY have authority to speak into what I’ve experienced.
So What’s The Point of “Doing It Right”?
You might read this and think, so what’s the point of doing it “the right way”? If mistakes give me authority, why shouldn’t I make a bunch of them?
Well, think for one second about your kids.
Do you want them to intentionally break their arm so they can warn others about how painful it is? Or so they can sympathize with those in pain? Or so they can help their friends with broken arms find the best strategies for healing quickly?
No, you don’t.
Breaking an arm sucks. It’s a terrible experience that no one wants and NO ONE wishes upon their kids.
Up until the moment my kid breaks his arm, I’m doing everything in my power to help him not make that mistake.
But the moment he breaks his arm, I’m making the absolute best out of that situation.
So many Christians see God as the type who sees his kid break an arm and then proceeds to beat that kid further as punishment.
Why? Is God a worse father than we are?
OF COURSE NOT! Our Heavenly Father is passionate about us being whole and living in abundant life.
And yet, when we screw up and make things miserable for ourselves, He not only redeems us into perfect wholeness, but he gives us unique authority to help others avoid or find healing from the same mistakes.
He turns our mourning into dancing. He replaces our tears with laughter. He takes the crappiest situation and makes it beautiful.
His love is relentless.
Don’t Waste Your Authority!
Obviously, righteousness is a good thing. It’s what we want in our lives. It’s equivalent to wholeness and found in Jesus.
But since none of us have lived perfectly, here’s the deal:
EVERY one of your past mistakes is the key to someone else’s breakthrough!
Your scars are opportunities for new healing. If you choose to say “Yes,” your authority can bring breakthrough to anyone struggling in the areas you’ve overcome.
Don’t waste your authority!
In all honesty, if the work of redemption was ONLY for your personal wholeness, that’s more than enough reason to celebrate. God didn’t heal you simply so you could bring healing to others. It was for YOU.
At the same time, why keep it to yourself? It’s WAY TOO POWERFUL for that!
And we both know you can’t think about His goodness without beginning to overflow. You can’t think about the wholeness He’s brought you into without getting excited to see the broken restored.
Don’t waste your authority!
You paid a price for it. He paid a price for you.
Let’s use our mistakes to bring His abundant life to a broken world!
Man, I had never thought like that in my entire life hitherto! It is completely true and trustworthy, because some people, when they make mistakes, instead of helping other ones by telling their experiences, they simply isolate themselves in a cave. However, you all, who have already made a mistake, use it to make people not to fall into the same you fell into, and don’t feel ashamed about what you’ve done. GOD has forgiven you; you are FREE. Set others free too!
Amen! No shame. No isolation. Freedom!
What a powerful article! I’m a recent college graduate, and I’ve lately been doubting myself and what I bring to the table in terms of helping others. But you’re absolutely right — there are pieces of my life, unique experiences, places I can speak from to help others in similar situations. This is a welcome reminder that EVERYONE has something to contribute to conversations, that everyone is an authority in something. Thanks for this piece!
Thanks GC! It makes me really happy that this was meaningful to you and came at a good time in your life.
Not a moment of your life has been wasted!
Great points. It reminds me of the quote, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”. It is all of our experiences good and bad that make us who we are. It is the wisdom and authority we gain by going through those experiences that God uses to bless and guide others.
This article resonates. When I lost a job for the first time in my life in the midst of a Recession it was a traumatic experience. But that experience has helped me to help so many other men because I know what it feels like to feel so vulnerable. Thanks for putting this into words.
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