You ARE Equipped
Not everyone is called to addictions ministry. However there is a stigma and common understanding of what it looks like to love an addict that may dissuade someone from doing this work. If thoughts like, “I don’t get addiction,” “It’s too messy and dangerous,” or “I am not equipped to help,” pop into your mind when you think of yourself in that role, please read this. The biggest comfort though, when working in any ministry is, “yet not I but through Christ in me.”
Sadly, the Church has looked to the world for answers when it comes to addiction. It is easier to view addiction as an incurable mental disorder than to hold a mirror to our sin, selfishness and idol worshiping - and the decisions we make to pursue those desires. But in reality, the things that drive addicts to seek comfort in alcohol and drugs are the same things that drive others to seek comfort in less extreme ways. For example a woman that attends a Recovering Hope meeting in Gilbert struggles with fear and control. When she is overwhelmed with fear that her son will not know Jesus before he passes, she simply goes to sleep. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Bluntly put, this woman is not trusting God with her son’s life. She runs to sleep for comfort instead of resting in God’s sovereignty. Her coping method might not lead to overdose and death, but she is still missing out on the peace God provides if she runs to Him instead. Can you relate? Do you ever doubt God’s plan for you (manifested in fear for your children or anger at your spouse, etc)? Have you ever run to things for comfort rather than Jesus in those moments? If you can relate to that - you can relate to an addict’s struggle.
I don't get addiction, I have never been tempted that way.
Addiction is too messy and dangerous. I don't want to expose my family and myself.
Generally, the people who attend recovery meetings are currently sober and looking for support and community. Not everyone is called to be a first responder in a crisis situation. Unless you do feel called to that, being involved in the Recovering Hope group will not force you into that situation. You will not have to pull anyone out of a drug house, you will most likely not have to resuscitate someone and you do not need to let anyone move into your home. You do not have to expose your family to dangerous people, situations or environments as a leader or mentor. As you get to know the people who attend, you will see they are not too different from you. They might have different or rough backgrounds, but as they see the hope Jesus has to offer through the Gospel, they will soften and be more approachable and receptive. Yes, it is messy. People are messy. The church is full of messy, sinful people. But you do not need to put yourself in danger to love and walk with an addict through Recovering Hope.
If you care about the people in your group, you will feel a burden. We are called to bear one another’s burden. The beauty of God’s sovereignty is that you can rest in knowing you are not an addict’s savior. The way is narrow. You will see people leave and never return. It will hurt. But when you see an addict’s heart, demeanor and life change when they hear the message that the gospel has power to change them, it is a glorious and beautiful thing. If you are sensitive and have your own struggles that could be exacerbated by this work, it is wise to prayerfully consider your role in the group.
I’m afraid to dig into the suffering and sin of an addict. It’s too hard.
I am not equipped to walk with addicts.
If you are a child of God, you are equipped and qualified. You do not need a PhD in behavioral psychology, have been an addict, love an addict or be a certified counselor to be part of the Recovering Hope group. The goal of the meeting is to make disciples and bring them into your church. You do not need to have all the answers. You know God’s love and you can share that with others. Hope for Addiction provides specific training and guides to help you as you help addicts. While it is helpful to understand specific behaviors and temptations for an addict, that is not the basis of their change. A growing relationship with Jesus Christ does the work in the life of an addict. Simply modeling the life of a Christian and showing them how the gospel guides your life, in practical ways, can have a profound impact in the life of an addict.