If I could get in a time machine and have coffee with the 1990 version of Greg Stier I would share three truths with him that would prepare him for the next twenty years of ministry. The first would be the vital importance of prayer. This reminder shouldn't surprise you. But the second one may...
2. Donâ€™t have a mistress on the side.
Iâ€™ll never forget when my wife accused me of having a mistressâ€¦and she was right, well, kind of. Hereâ€™s how the conversation went down as she accused and I denied:
â€œI know whatâ€™s going onâ€ she said in a quiet voice.
â€œWhat?â€ I asked, having no idea what she was getting at.
â€œYou are having an affairâ€ she said bluntly.
â€œWhat? I am NOT having an affair! I canâ€™t believe you would accuse me of that!â€ I almost yelled.
â€œYou are gone early. You come home from work late every night. I can see it in your eyes. You have a mistressâ€ she accused again.
Protesting I continued, â€œHoney, I canâ€™t even preach a sermon if you and I have an unresolved issue in our relationship! I have to get it straightened out first or I literally canâ€™t preach. My conscience wonâ€™t let me! How could I be running the ministry of Dare 2 Share day and night, traveling all over the nation and preaching to thousands of teenagers if I were having an affair?â€
â€œDare 2 Share is the affair" she stated bluntly.
â€œWhat?â€ I asked.
She said it again, â€œDare 2 Share is the mistress!â€
In that moment I felt like David on the accusing side of the prophet Nathanâ€™s pointer finger when he told the philandering king, â€œYou are the man!â€ You are the man that cheated. You are the man that murdered. You are the man that broke the heart of God.
When my wife accused me of cheating on her by throwing myself into Dare 2 Share and neglecting her I knew that, in the worst way, I was the man. I was the man that had broken her heart. I was the man who was seeking the emotional fulfillment that I should have been finding in my relationship with God (first) and her (second) in the thrill of running a national ministry. So, not only was I committing a kind of emotional adultery by cheating my wife out of a deeper relationship, I was committing spiritual idolatry by putting a ministry in the place where only God should sit.
To be honest this is still a struggle for me. There are times I win and times I lose this battle. Pray for me to experience more and more victory over this temptress. If I could get in a time machine I would prepare my younger self for the seriousness and danger of this lifelong battle of priorities.
To be continued...