Who is Following in Your Footsteps?

Who is following in your footsteps, and how are you influencing them?

Another of the “Ten Principles to Conquer Stubborn Habits,” from Reformers Unanimous (http://www.reformu.com/), tells us that, “Our sinful habits do hurt those who are following us.” While this concept is something that is readily apparent in so many different facets of our lives, I intend to focus on two of the most recognizable. I want to discuss how are actions can impact those whom we influence in our businesses and ministries, and how our addiction(s) influence our families.

I will address the business aspect from the perspective of over thirty-two years of exposure to the military culture, to include over eighteen years in various Law Enforcement roles. Although there have been great strides taken to curtail the more excessive aspects of these behaviors, there still exists a pervasive culture of drinking, profanity and sexual promiscuity/innuendo. Earlier in my career there were unit functions that encouraged/facilitated drinking such as field meets where beer was served or “Bosses Night at the club. Then there were the ‘Choir Practice’ sessions after getting off shift where we would stop by another patrolman’s house for a few drinks before heading home to sleep. Throughout, younger personnel were routinely exposed to, and became assimilated into, this culture and these practices. Add to this the constant ‘sea stories’ of various dalliances in various cities/countries with the unstated (or sometimes stated) understanding that “what happens on float stays on float,” a variation on the familiar Vegas saying. Even now, working in a ‘professional’ office setting, nearly all conversations are rife with profanity as a means of adding emphasis to one’s point. Young and impressionable service members could be equated to the frogs in the scenario where one can warm up the water in which a frog is sitting and, if done so gradually enough, the frog will not react until it is too late to escape and it is boiled to death. Likewise, I have observed a similar behavioral transference from one generation to the next in the arena of the Japanese business men. These men regularly take their protégées out for drinking binges and nights out ‘entertaining’ visiting VIPs. Most of these nights on the town inevitably involve much alcohol and, quite often, women employed by the bars/clubs. This behavior is then transferred to those being trained / mentored, and is destined to continue for yet another generation.

On the Ministry front, there has been a rash of ministry leaders, pastors, etc., who have fallen from grace due to sexual misconduct. One recent fall comes to mind due to the far reaching effects of the damage that resulted. In this instance, the founder and president a prominent Christian organization was found to have been involved in an affair which led to his resignation as president and, ultimately, to the subsequent shutting down of the organization and all of its ancillary ministries. The damage from this not only damaged his reputation but did severe damage to the image of Christianity as a whole. Then there is the damage that was done to his family (and the other family involved), damage to the church, the loss of employment by all those who were employed by the ministry’s various endeavors, and the loss of numerous services that were provided to Christians through the various efforts associated with his ministry. In all, the hurt and damage to those who ‘followed’ this man was (and is) immense.

Now I will look quickly to the family front. While younger children can be greatly influenced by older siblings, even greater damage can be done as they seek to mimic their parents. We are charged to raise our children for God by setting the example/teaching & mentoring them as we go through our daily routines. They are like sponges and will absorb and mimic all they see. We have a clipping taped to one of the cupboards in our kitchen that frequently reminds me of the grave responsibility inherent in being a parent:

In My Steps:

My four-year-old was on my heels no matter where I went. Whenever I stopped to do something and turned back around, I would trip over him. I patiently suggested fun activities to keep him occupied. But he simply smiled an innocent smile and said, “Oh, that’s all right, Mommy. I’d rather be in here with you.” Then he continued to bounce along behind me. After stepping on his toes for the fifth time, I began to lose patience. When I asked why he was acting this way, he looked up at me with sweet green eyes and said, “Well, Mommy, my Sunday School teacher told me to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. I can’t see Him, so I am walking in yours!”

As addicts in a family setting, there are warnings that come from Scriptures that should cause us to pause and seriously consider the impact that our actions may be having on our children and/or our spouses. First, we are warned, in Exodus 34:7, of the very real prospect of passing on generational curses to our children through our sinful behaviors, “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing [the guilty], visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” (NKJV)

If that isn’t enough, then consider the consequences of having one of your children observe and mimic you sinful behavior(s), particularly to the point of also falling into addiction. This is clearly not a place anyone would want to be, as Jesus warns: “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. (Mark 9:42 NKJV)

Finally, our actions can cause immense hurt and damage to our spouse, whether through using up family money on our addictions, or through the hurt and embarrassment incumbent with sexual addictions. As I mentioned in my post on 12/23/2014, when I was at the height of my addictions “I could not perceive the emotional and spiritual hurt that I was inflicting on my wife and, honestly, I was in such a selfish and destructive state of mind that I probably wouldn’t have cared if I had known. That is the nature of addictions: IT’S ALL ABOUT ME!!! It took her persistent prayers and the threat of losing my family before I was finally able to see and admit the hurt that I was inflicting on her through my activities.”

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect
2 Corinthians 1:3-4


About Scott P.

Scott is a retired Military LEO and a Volunteer Chaplain with Serve & Protect (www.serveprotect.org) where he seeks to provide transition services for First Responders and Military personnel by mentoring and connecting them with local 12 Step or similar Faith-Based recovery programs, local Chaplains, and Trauma Therapists to continue their recovery journey following residential care treatment. Scott contributes these devotions to the Serve & Protect ministry Facebook page: Guns'n'Hoses (https://www.facebook.com/GunsHosesMinistry). Scott has been involved in Faith-Based recovery programs since 2006 and has a Bachelor of Science in Religion through Liberty University and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies through Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Fredericksburg, VA, and can be contacted at spipenhagen@liberty.edu.
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