Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders Confronting Addiction in Leadership: Overcoming a Destructive Mindset

Confronting Addiction in Leadership: Overcoming a Destructive Mindset

confronting addiction

Why is confronting addiction a topic that youth workers and ministry leaders should care about? The answers might surprise you. Read on for one youth pastor’s story, plus vital tips for overcoming bad habits.

I live for the rush. I love to push boundaries, go farther than anyone else has intended, and try something just so I can say I’ve accomplished it. I’m so thankful the Holy Spirit called me to focus that “rush” mentality into the Great Commission…to GO!

You see, I’m a second-generation Christian with a family history of generations of substance abuse and addiction. I know the sins of my fathers. Maybe my rush to do new things is a reaction to stay away from the “big” sins. But in the process, still I stumbled into my own addictive behavior.

I recognized my self-addiction when I fasted from coffee. Yeah, I decided to give up caffeine to get to know Jesus better. But the withdrawals were horrible! In the process of “going without,” I realized I wasn’t doing things for God’s glory. No, I’d been trying to gratify my selfish desires through working for Jesus. I was in trouble.

Confronting Addiction Symptoms

These symptoms held my attention in being a workaholic for Jesus:

  • Continuing despite experiencing significant detrimental effects in relationships, education, health or other areas.
  • Frequently using more than I originally intended, or using it longer than I originally intended to use it.
  • Frequent cravings.
  • A failure to address important obligations as a result of this use.
  • Continuing to use where it may be physically dangerous to do so, such as driving, using at work or using while watching small children.
  • Inability to cut down or stop using even though I had stated I wished to do so.
  • The development of tolerance.
  • The development of withdrawal symptoms.

Addiction isn’t just for the rebels. It isn’t limited to “bad sins” like drugs, porn and alcoholism. Christian addiction is evident in many areas. These include seeking comfort, controlling other people, curating an image, performing good works, a propensity for laziness… The list goes on.

I’m not trying to minimize the reality of substance and other addictions. I’m advocating that we realize we all struggle with addictions. And addictions hurt people. They hurt the addict, families, churches, teens in our ministries, and coworkers.

Please take a moment, leader. Ask if pleasing yourself has become an addiction. If you answered yes, then you’re addicted to you. And it’s killing your soul.

What Scripture Says About Addictive Behaviors

Paul challenges the Philippian church to follow the example of Jesus. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Youth ministers must recognize that we’re leading God’s people. If we aren’t stewarding our soul, then we miss the needs of others because we’re focused on ourselves. Generosity vanishes. Evangelism evaporates. Our role becomes an empty, dutiful list of responsibilities instead of Spirit-led obedience.