Confession and Prosperity of the Soul

an african american man kneels on a church pew in prayer with his bible close by

As a minister of 40 years, I want to live an authentic Christian life that is free from dominating sin, guilt and shame.  The challenge for me is one of transparency, being honest with God, myself and others. Confessing to God is one thing, confessing to one who ministers alongside me is entirely different, and it has never been easy! 

The apostle James wrote: Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins). (James 5:16a AMPC) Humble confession is essential because it leads to a more profound sense of conviction and godly sorrow, which in turn produces meaningful repentance and changed behavior. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

You may be thinking, “You have to be kidding! Who does that? After all, we all have our secrets, right?” If we are serious about prospering our souls, then YES, we must confess. The writer of Proverbs wrote, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13 ESV, see Psalm 32:5)

James goes on to say in 5:16: “and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart].” (AMPC) I believe that James is referring to spiritual healing from the devastating effects of sin. This path to healing begins only when we humble ourselves to God and others, bringing our wrong thoughts, words, and actions done in the secret shadows into the light of confession. 

The message for us as shepherds of Gods flock is clear. If we continue to protect ourselves out of fear, refusing to be transparent, confessing, renouncing, and abandoning our sins, we will not prosper. Worse yet we will forfeit God’s mercy. That is a price I am simply not willing to pay! And I hope for you and your church’s sake, you aren’t either.

We can hide behind our "projected self" and risk becoming the next casualty in ministry, or we can find the courage to expose our “true self” living a life of integrity and leave a legacy. Every minister will face this decision multiple times in their careers.

There is nothing that compares to the soul that has grown healthy and strong through walking in the truth and power of God's Word and the Spirit! Submission to God and transparency with others is vital to this goal. (see Psalm 32:1-11)

Heavenly Father, thank you for continually dealing with my stubborn pride and encouraging me to be honest with you and others. Thank you for trusted friends, “blood-stained allies” that have heard my confessions and lovingly ministered to me in prayer. In this, I have found forgiveness, healing and true friendship.

About the Author

George Stahnke is a pastoral counselor in the counseling department at Focus on the Family. In his private practice he provides counseling to individuals, families, ministry families and other ministry leaders (deacons, elders, board members, missionaries, etc.). Through phone consultations with Focus on the Family he advises callers on a variety of topics from marriage, parenting and church relations to career changes, depression, pornography and trauma.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.

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