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.
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.
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