10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admit it.
We are going to have our good days, and discouraging days. And at times, again and again, we are going to need someone else to help us. To listen to us. To help keep us on the “straight and narrow way that leads to life.”
And so let us stay close to the true friends we have found during our steps 1 through 9. Because they will help to look out for our souls.
“Obey your [spiritual] leaders and submit to them [recognizing their authority over you], for they are keeping watch over your souls and continually guarding your spiritual welfare as those who will give an account [of their stewardship of you]. Let them do this with joy and not with grief and groans, for this would be of no benefit to you.” ~ Hebrews 13:17 Amplified
Be Willing to be Shepherded
A true friend will remind you of what it takes to stay on the right path. And that is what a true pastor will also do. And that is in particular what the scripture in Hebrews 13:17 above is describing. One that is responsible as a shepherd for the sheep.
“As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.” ~ Ezekiel 34:12
Sin and addiction produces a cloud over our lives. But the clarity of truth can lead us out. And that has a lot to do with what we have been identifying so far within steps 1 through 9. And a true friend-shepherd will lead us by the clarity of truth.
When you find a true and faithful friend-shepherd, stay close to them. Because they are difficult to find in this life.
“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” ~ Matthew 9:36-38
In this scripture above, Jesus was talking about people who were able to go to the house of worship, the synagogue, every week. They had leaders there who would lead them in prayer, singing, and in teaching from the scriptures. But Jesus did not describe them as “shepherds.” He said the people were “as sheep having no shepherd.”
So let us consider what a true shepherd-pastor is. They are more than a leader of a worship service. They are more than a leader-organizer of a congregation. They need to know how to shepherd-pastor the people. To individually help them with their needs. And those kind of shepherd-pastors are rare and hard to find!
A true shepherd will not mix truth with lies. A true shepherd will lead you by a true gospel. By the true testimony of Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” ~ John 14:6
So a true friend-shepherd will guide the same way Jesus would shepherd: so you can follow in the footsteps of the Savior.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” ~ Psalm 23:1-4
The rod and staff represent things that a loving shepherd would use to direct and to correct his sheep. But a shepherd of the sheep would not use these to harm them. And so the sheep were actually comforted by the rod and the staff. And the Word of God is also compared to a rod for the purposes of correction, and instruction for measuring to righteousness.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Note: remember that “perfect” here means mature. A mature person takes responsibility by listening and taking correction.
Watch Out for Wolves
So as we identify true friend-shepherds, let us be careful that we don’t get taken advantage of by a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Seek only for pure living, which is the straight and narrow way. Do not allow a false shepherd to lead you into the easier broadway. You have done the hard work to restore relationships in your life. Continue in the hard work of respecting those relationships. Including finding a seasoned shepherd who knows how to respect all relationships, according to the Word of God.
Note: True relationships are long-term. So we must accept responsibility for maintaining them for life.
“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” ~ Matthew 7:12-17
Jesus did not say you will know them by their gifts. But rather by their fruits. It is critical that you know the difference. There are many gifted ministers that are leading people astray today! And the reason why it is so easy to do this, is because people are relying on the gift that the minister has. And they are not inspecting the fruit of their lives.
People have a strong tendency towards the idolatry of worshiping a gift in an individual. This not only happens with minister gifts. But it happens in the entertainment industry, the sports industry, and politics. People gather around and follow others that have gifts, and they can be easily misled. This is specifically why the Apostle Paul warned against this.
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I would not have you ignorant. You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, even as you were led.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:1-2
The reason the scriptures warns us against the broadway, is because it is easy to drift. There’s not much struggle with the broadway. Not much working and putting forth the effort. You’re just sitting back and taking it easy. But continuing in the narrow way takes some “striving” because it is actually a struggle.
“Strive to enter in at the straight gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” ~ Luke 13:24
So what this means is that we again look over steps 4 through 9, and keep going over them as often as I need to. But… Not taking as long to correct ourselves. We learn to “promptly admit” when we have a need, and we promptly take care of that need. Don’t let things linger and fester until they overwhelm us again.
Note: this takes continued work.
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.” ~ 2 Peter 1:4-12
Pay Attention to What Sparks Trouble for You
And as we continue to work to add stability and faithfulness to our life, let us also be aware of the sparks that could potentially cause a troublesome fire for us. Let us promptly deal with our needs anytime trouble is sparked.
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.” ~ Philippians 3:13-16
We accept that to maintain a new life without substance dependency, we are going to have to “hold the ground” that we have taken, and continue to press forward. This is not just a “glide into a new life” plan. It takes regular work to maintain what we have, and to stay the course. We must periodically re-examine where we are, and make adjustments when necessary for a course-correction when we start to veer off even a little.
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” ~ 2 Corinthians 13:5
The word “reprobate” means to be without judgement. Meaning we no longer examine ourselves, and we can no longer discern where we are along the pathway. If we begin to stray, it will take the mercy of the Lord (perhaps through someone who knows us and some of our past weaknesses) to straighten us up. This is why it is wise to continue to come to the meetings and services so we can build the necessary discipline into our lives to stay on course. These necessary corrections can sometimes also seem a bit painful, but yet they are still necessary!
“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” ~ Hebrews 12:5-13
Endure the temporary pain, so that the full healing can take place!