What’s the One Thing You Would Change?

What’s the One Thing You Would Change?

Posted by Michael Leahy on January 12, 2017

Today’s post is from Michael Leahy, the founder and Executive Director of BraveHearts . . . a ministry focused on mentoring men toward freedom from habitual sexual sin. Before you say, “Nah, this post isn’t for me,” there’s a 2 out of 3 chance it is because, according to Barna Group research, 65% of Christian men have looked at porn in the last 30 days. I walked with Michael through a portion of his journey . . . I saw the pain with my own eyes. Michael wants us to learn from his story and take action before it’s too late.

“What’s the one thing in your life you would go back and change?”

Powerful question, huh? Especially at this reflective time of the year.

It’s one I’ve been asked hundreds of times over the years, mostly by college students, after sharing my personal redemption story.

That question often follows a comment. One I’ve grown to love hearing and now consider a compliment . . . “I don’t want to have a story like yours!”

They say this because they’ve just heard the story of my 30-year relationship with pornography and sexual sin. A relationship that progressed into a full-blown sexual addiction that cost me everything – my 15-year marriage, my family, my job, and nearly my life following months of depression and thoughts of suicide.

Nobody wants to have a story like that, right? Because people naturally hope to avoid a similar train wreck in their own lives, I invariably get asked that big question . . .

“What’s the one thing you would change?”

In other words, what could you have done differently to avoid that train wreck? The first time I was asked this was in a public forum of about 1,000 college students. My answer came quickly then and hasn’t changed much since . . .

“Being fully known by another man.”

True intimacy. Not the sexual kind but a healthy, relational connection with another man. Allowing myself to be fully known. My past failures. My present fears, hopes and dreams. No lies, no secrets, no holding back. No hiding the truth about me. Just honest, authentic friendship. In my book, it’s a game changer.

Over the years, I’ve added having a mentor as part of my answer to that question. I’ve come to realize that being involved in a healthy mentoring relationship is where we learn to value and practice being honest, authentic and vulnerable. A good mentor models those traits, much like Jesus did to His disciples.

In fact, after spending the last 15 years in full-time ministry helping men find freedom from porn and sex addiction, I’ve come to realize that the most successful method for helping men break free from addiction to habitual sexual sin is mentoring, especially 1-on-1 mentoring.

I’ve personally mentored over 100 sexually addicted men . . . men who were on the verge of losing their marriages, families, and jobs . . . and over 50% of them experienced 1-year or more of sexual sobriety as a result of their 1-on-1 mentoring with me. Compare that to a 2-3% success rate for those using more traditional methods like counseling, 12-step groups and/or inpatient recovery programs and it becomes clear that there is something working here. And it’s not just because I’m doing the mentoring. I’ve trained other mentors on how to leverage their own personal success with recovery, and their mentees experience similar results.

Take a minute to think about what you would do differently if you could do the worst parts of your life over again. And how different your life might have been if you had a mentor earlier in life to help guide you down a different path.

Oh, what a different world it might be. But the good news is you’re here now, reading this blog, fully aware that there is a better way to go through life. Following the counsel of the wise. And learning how to follow Jesus by living a well-mentored life.

Scripture: These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel. Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. (Proverbs 1:1-2)

Mentor Tip: You’re never too old or too young to learn from those older and wiser than you. The younger you are when you learn to follow the wise, the greater the course correction will be towards living a joyous, godly life.

Comment here.

Note: If you’d like to ask Michael anything about his experience or get his advice on yours but aren’t comfortable posting it as a comment on the blog, you have the opportunity to do so here.

Responses (24)

Jay Pyatt
Jay Pyatt Posted: January 12, 2017, 10:02 am

I could agree more. Being fully known is a powerful thing, especially when it is a man that you respect and trust. It makes me think of what Paul and Timothy shared. Or what Jesus and the disciples had as they traveled together.
I share a story similar to your’s and I wish that my past was not a train wreck from my porn addiction. My wife found the strength to forgive and now we are living a life that I could not have imagined.

Michael Leahy
Michael Leahy Posted: January 12, 2017, 1:25 pm

Jay, I’m so thankful for your personal redemption story. I’m even more thankful that you and God have entrusted me with the awesome task of training and equipping you to be a BraveHearts Mentor. BTW, since you brought up the attraction to Jesus’ mentoring relationship with his disciples, I think you’d really enjoy reading Regi’s book “Mentor Like Jesus.” I plan on making it required reading for all future BraveHearts Mentor Certification candidates.

Jay Pyatt
Jay Pyatt Posted: January 12, 2017, 3:28 pm

I obviously meant, “I couldn’t agree more”, not “I could agree more”.


Gregg Jones
Gregg Jones Posted: January 12, 2017, 12:35 pm

I have completed Michael’s mentor training. From my first hand experience with him I can say he is absolutely sincere to helping men overcome sexual addictions. He has the expertise through his own life course of struggle, setbacks, and victories. The mentoring model that Bravehearts has created is a model that is truly needed as many men are losing dominion over their lives and destiny due to this issue.

Michael Leahy
Michael Leahy Posted: January 12, 2017, 1:29 pm

Hey Gregg, I appreciate your compliments, and your courage in allowing God to leverage your own personal story and past struggles for His present and future glory. So exciting to see Him working through you to change lives and set these men free.

Pierre Beauregard
Pierre Beauregard Posted: January 12, 2017, 12:46 pm

I thank Michael for his honesty and his heart of helping those attracted down the destructive path of sexual addiction.
What I wish would have been different in my life is my relationship with my dad or a male mentor. Although I love my dad, who is now in heaven, I wish he would have been able to do more than being the great example that he has been. Josh Mcdowell says that the most important influence in the family to grow in healthy sexual integrity is the father. A mentor comes is to fill the gap

Michael Leahy
Michael Leahy Posted: January 12, 2017, 1:37 pm

Hi Pierre. Boy, I couldn’t agree with you more. I very much wish that I would have had a different relationship with my dad. He was an alcoholic and addicted smoker most of his life, and sadly it taught me a lot growing up about the intricate art of denial and delusion. So it shouldn’t have come as a shock to me that one day, I too would struggle with my own addiction. Sadly, I see generational sin like this as a sexual integrity mentor all the time. But I also see courageous men drawing a line in the sand in their own lives, as if saying to Satan “No more! You can’t have me, too, and you can’t have my kids!” That, my friend, is true courage. Just remember that God is not merely a reflection of our earthly father. He’s more like the perfection of our father – everything we wanted him to be – and so much more.

Regrets - Porn Is Killing Me
Regrets - Porn Is Killing Me Posted: January 12, 2017, 4:52 pm

[…] “What’s the One Thing You Would Change?” […]

Lori Pyatt
Lori Pyatt Posted: January 12, 2017, 7:13 pm

Hey Michael,

GREAT article! I especially love how you said:

…what could (I) have done differently to avoid that train wreck? The first time I was asked this was in a public forum of about 1,000 college students. My answer… hasn’t changed much since: “Being fully known by another man.” True intimacy. Not the sexual kind but a healthy, relational connection with another man.

From what I’ve seen, there’s something in every man who longs for this type of intimacy with a dependable man, but they seem to get stuck on an awkward fear.

I’m so glad you’re speaking to the great need in men to be guided by someone they trust. I hope your words, “True intimacy. Not the sexual kind but a healthy, relational connection with another man.” will break something open in guys to help them realize their deep desire to be cared for this way… and to break through the awkwardness enough for them to seek someone like this for their lives and futures.

Blessings to you and your wife!

Michael Leahy
Michael Leahy Posted: January 13, 2017, 11:15 am

Thanks Lori. I wish every spouse of every guy who had the courage to do battle against Satan in this area had the deep and abiding faith and dependence on God to finish the good work He started in their husbands that you have demonstrated over the years. Jay is a blessed man!

Brian Posted: January 13, 2017, 7:55 am

The internet has brought with it many benefits: access to on-line resources for education and news, quicker information, angry birds (?).
But one great harm to us all has been unrestricted free anonymous access to pornography. This has certainly not been beneficial to us as men, as sons, as husbands, as fathers.
Michael, your ministry has been a great benefit to more than 100 men as you specifically state in your blog post. But I think it was of great help to the thousands who heard you speak on college campuses for years and/or those who have read your book. I and my family have personally greatly benefited from your ministry and for that I am eternally grateful.
You are truly a BRAVEHEART.

Michael Leahy
Michael Leahy Posted: January 13, 2017, 11:10 am

Thanks, Brian. It’s been fun seeing you progress in your recovery and develop deep and meaningful relationships with the other men in BraveHearts. You’re a living example of my mantra in action – “What you feed grows, and what you starve dies.” Keep on feeding the right things and fighting the good fight!

Chris Posted: January 13, 2017, 3:04 pm

Thank God for BraveHearts and Michael Leahy! I was fortunate enough to come across BraveHearts at critical point where I was failing with traditional methods of recovery and DIY techniques that were causing more harm than good. Michael’s mentoring technique combined with the BraveHearts community of men is an incredibly powerful way to battle the enemy.

Michael, your comment regarding being fully known by other men resonates with me because this is something I didn’t realize was lacking in my life. Experiencing this today on a regular basis is the best way I know to stay healthy.

As a result of this mentoring style, and by the Grace of God, I have a marriage that was saved and a 1 1/2 year old son whose existence is truly a miracle. Thank you Michael and the BraveHearts community!

Michael Leahy
Michael Leahy Posted: January 16, 2017, 10:13 am

Chris, being given the honor of playing a small role in your redemption story is clearly one of the high points of my 15 years of ministry. I appreciate all of your kind words, but you know as well as I do that it was GOD’S goodness and YOUR courage and willingness to let Him wreck you and take control of your life, that you are now living the turnaround story that you are. And your inviting Chrissy and I to join you guys at the hospital to witness the birth of your son – a birth that neither of us ever expected when we started working together – is further evidence that God is so ready and willing to bless ANY of us, regardless of how much we’ve messed up our lives with sin, if we’d just trust Him enough to give Him a chance. God is good, ALL the time!

Clay Posted: January 13, 2017, 8:53 pm


I wish I had found you and Bravehearts years ago not just a few years ago. The freedom that I have experienced through your mentoring and the authentic relationships with other Bravehearts men was something that I thought was not possible. Though much damage has been done to my life and my relationships with others, God is redeeming the past by allowing me to use my story to help others.

Michael Leahy
Michael Leahy Posted: January 16, 2017, 10:22 am

Thanks, Clay. It’s hard to believe it’s been over 3 years since we started working together. I’ve learned so much from you over the years as you’ve emerged and developed into the alpha leader of our tribe. In spite of difficult personal circumstances, you’ve been my Paul. You’ve held true to your calling by God and been a rock and an invaluable gift of discernment and encouragement to ALL of the men in BraveHearts. I am so thankful for you, and love you for the man you’ve become. I know God is well pleased.

Nelson Logan
Nelson Logan Posted: January 14, 2017, 8:51 am

Awesome post and insight. I agree, the sooner you you become fully known, the easier it is to fight these battles. I also agree that mentoring is the fastest and safest way to experience the freedom of being fully known.

Michael Leahy
Michael Leahy Posted: January 16, 2017, 10:31 am

Thanks, Nelson. While I’ll admit it can be scary at first, it soon becomes so freeing to find someone safe who we can truly let our guard down with and just be ourselves, warts and all. I know because I was a master of disguises, always posing and pretending to be whoever it was that I thought people wanted me to be. That was especially true for me after becoming a Christian. That’s why it can be so life changing to be mentored by older, wiser, Godly men who’ve given up on posing and wearing masks and are comfortable in their own skin. I just wish I hadn’t waited so long for seek out a mentor in my own life.

Dick Davis
Dick Davis Posted: January 15, 2017, 12:10 pm

Michael, I agree completely with all that you have said. As you know because you were my mentor, I came to you at 68 years old about to lose my marriage. It has been about 2 1/2 years now. And things are so much better. The big thing is that I am allowing God to control my life. I believe that Bravehearts is one major thing that God uses in our lives to help us have the opportunity and courage to live Godly lives.
Thank you for the work and time that you spent with me as my mentor.
Dick Davis

Michael Leahy
Michael Leahy Posted: January 16, 2017, 10:38 am

Hey Dick, thanks for your comment. You were so easy to work with, I’m thrilled at what God has done in your life. I’ll never forget our first phone conversation, when you told me that you were supposed to be celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary soon, but that you weren’t sure you’d make it. That sent shock waves through me and woke me up to the fact that we’re never too old to face the undealt with sin in our lives and choose to get well. And now look at all God has done in your life and marriage these past 2 1/2 years! I’m thrilled to see you living a redemptive life and enjoying your marriage and family at a time when it means the most to us, and to them.

Richard Thomson
Richard Thomson Posted: January 16, 2017, 12:29 pm

Great read!!! As always full of key points!
As one of the men “who doesn’t want others to end up with the same story as mine,” making yourself available, vulnerable and open to others or one other is difficult and yet richly rewarding!!
So glad to be part of this BraveHearts movement!!


Shawn Posted: January 16, 2017, 9:25 pm

Have never in my life had a Godly mentor. Most of my “mentors” led me farther away from God, not that they had to try too hard. Bravehearts has truly been a God send.

l fox
l fox Posted: January 17, 2017, 3:59 pm

So true…. We men are terrible about being transparent and vulnerable with other men. The secrecy leads to isolation, covering sin, and shame.
Keep up the good work Michael!

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