He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 1 Timothy 3:6
When I got out of treatment back in 2014, I knew I’d been changed and, in my exuberance, I felt inspired to write a book about it. I’d only been sober for a couple of months when I told my wife of my plan. She’d been there through the 15 years of using and the multiple relapses though. She wasn’t yet convinced. Wisely, she counseled that I wait on the book. She gently told me that no one wanted to read a book about recovery when the subject of the book simply kept relapsing. Her point was that I needed to prove myself with a significant amount of clean time before I presumed to write a book on recovery.
In today’s passage, as Paul continued his list of prerequisites for a pastor, he said that such a one must not be a recent convert. The reason was that the rookie believer may not ready for power that may corrupt him, damaging him and the church as he fell. Paul didn’t give a specific amount of time, but his point was that maturity isn’t formed overnight. Transformation takes time, experience, and obedience through the trials of life to prove that one’s faith is authentic.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, it’s taught that one must be sober for at least a year prior to becoming a sponsor. He (or she) must have worked the steps of his own recovery while proving that he can live free from chemicals for a year before presuming to be able to help another do the same. It’s not uncommon for someone just out of treatment to be on fire, wanting to help others. I’m ready to be a sponsor now! The truth though, is that a majority of those who leave treatment won’t be sober in a year. It would be ineffective and even harmful for a sponsor to relapse while he’s trying to help another novice in recovery. So, a would-be sponsor must prove himself with a year of recovery prior to taking on that responsibility.
Time alone though, doesn’t guarantee maturity. If we want to help others who’re struggling – which we should desire to do as Christians – then we must not simply rely on time as a marker of our growth. Daily, we must work on abandoning the old life for the new one. We won’t be perfect in this life and so, we must continually be transformed if we want to be of service to God and to those around us. Growth takes time but we only grow if we invest that time to work on our faith and recovery.
Author’s Note: I’m taking a planned week off of writing. So, new blogs won’t be published in the coming week. See you next week!