And a war worth winning. Some guys have been at it for years and are saying, “I doubt it.” I connect with men who have learned as I have that walking in the light liberates. My first experience of this came when I was traveling through Europe after two years of seminary. I connected with an Operation Mobilization Team. The director asked if I wanted to walk in the light with him. Good idea. I just didn’t know what he meant. He said that he gets tempted to take a second look or a third, to focus on body parts, to think about it as he crashes at night. He said, “That’s not what I want,” and I’ll let you know on a daily basis how I am doing. Sounded like a decent idea. I agreed to do the same, because I was facing similar battles. I was amazed at how well it worked–as long as I stayed in the light. When I chose to hide, I had little power to overcome.

Since then I found out why. Jesus said that some “loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). He later announced, “He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Paul wrote, “What fellowship does light have with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14). And John proclaimed, “God is light, and in him is no darkness” (I John 1:5). We are commanded to “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12). Darkness is where things hide–and grow, like mold–and sin. We are told to “have nothing to do with the unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph. 5:11). We are fighting against “the cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Eph. 6:12).  For false teachers, the “gloom of utter darkness has been reserved” (2 P. 2:17; Jude 13). So if we choose the darkness, we are camping in Satan’s domain. He rules there. No wonder we can’t win in the dark. Good news–God “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). Paul gives us a statement of identity, that we “are not in darkness” (I Thess. 5:4,5). Peter reminds us that God called us “out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 P. 2:9).

However, Satan lies to us and says that if we come into the light, we will receive shame and rejection. John promises just the opposite: “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another. And the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:17). Interesting. Instead of shame–forgiveness. Instead of rejection–fellowship, koinonia, the sharing of our lives with one another.

When we learn appropriate vulnerability by walking in the light and confessing our weakness, our struggles, our defeats, we receive just what we need. Satan is a liar and the Father of lies. In other words, lies are born out of connecting with him and walking in his territory. I am delighted to say that men I have been privileged to mentor have been discovering the glorious power of light, just as Scripture promised. Maybe you are next to experience this life-changing truth!


A young man called to tell me he was being tempted to give in to porn. I said, “I have told many young men to do what you are now doing. You are the first to call before giving in. Others get prayer when they yield to temptation and need forgiveness to lift the shame. But you are ahead of the game; you are calling for strength to resist. Way to go. That is what it means to walk in the light, to share your weakness, to acknowledge that you need support. You’ll get it, and you will resist the devil.” I was proud of my young friend.

He was surprised. When I encouraged him to do this a few months before, he had assumed that because I had been mentoring young men for decades many would have called to solicit prayer at the front end. He was the first. We need to walk in the light together, to confess our weakness, and ask for help. How easily we pretend that we are strong when we are weak. We would see a thousand more victories among young men battling sexual temptation if they were willing to check in when they faced temptation, not only after they had given in. I hope that the victory my friend experienced by walking in the light encourages others to do the same.

One of my sons came to me and Karen as a young man. He was crying. He said, “I have felt like the flawed son in a flawless family.” I asked, “Didn’t I ever share with you my defeats? Haven’t your brothers talked with you?” No on both counts. How critical it is to walk in honesty, beginning in our families and continuing in the Christian community. Too many are trying to make it alone and failing. They need parents and leaders who model vulnerability, so they can share their weakness and need for support.

My favorite professor at seminary said, “The first thing I do when I mentor someone is to share my weaknesses.” Why does he do that? Because we are not used to sharing our dark side. We hide it even from friends. When we begin to meet with a mature brother or sister for mentoring, we don’t want to do what we most need to do–confess our struggles, our weaknesses, our failures. We want this person to think well of us, not to think that we are wimping out. So we shine the bright side. But if he or she starts with a weakness, then those being mentored are a bit more comfortable sharing the dark side. What a humble thing to do. In our pride, we prefer sharing our victories. But James urges us, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). We would see more healing if we practiced more transparency.

One reason so many pastors are failing is that they have not practiced walking in the light. Some have been taught not to share personal matters with members, and they often lack close friends. They desperately need to learn to be vulnerable with other pastors and leaders. Otherwise, the epidemic will only continue. May God give you grace to walk in appropriate transparency–and see much victory!


…take heed lest he fall” (I Corinthians 10:12).  A friend at seminary asked me, “If Satan wanted to take you out, what would he use?” I said, “Pride.” Then I asked him the same question and he said, “Sex.” He was right. He divorced a godly wife who had given him four wonderful children and chose a single woman instead, leaving the ministry and a trail of suffering behind him. He knew enough to answer correctly but not enough to deal with the issue at hand. Sad, stupid and selfish. What do you tell his kids?

I wish he had a mentor that helped him to walk in the light, confess his sins, and deal with his problems. Might have saved a lot of people from a ton of pain. I ask young men I mentor to tell me their strengths and the weaknesses. Then we discuss them–in detail. I want to see if they know what could take them out and what they are doing about it now. Many of those who have good plans for their future and leadership gifts never get there. They are sidelined for a host of reasons. If they had been taking heed, maybe they could have prevented the fallout. If they had coaches to help keep them on track with probing questions, they might have learned to be on guard.

We are looking for older, wiser men and women who could help steer these young people into a bright future. Too many in their seventies think it is time for them to sit back and be spectators. Or perhaps the church they attend makes them feel that way. We desperately need mature fathers and mothers prepared to be a shining light with millennials who need their example and wisdom. Dear older friends, let your pastor know that you are available to work with young people one on one.

I am sad for every pastor who experiences a moral failure. That wasn’t on their agenda when they were ordained and took vows of ordination and when they were married and made promises to their spouse. Somehow, they didn’t take heed–and they fell. The potential is in every one of us. A man after God’s own heart created pain in his family for years through moral fallout. He was forgiven, but the consequences played themselves out for decades.

What could keep you from your God-appointed destiny? The master called three servants and gave them jobs. Two did well and were commended. The third buried his talents and had a miserable ending. The master called him a “wicked and slothful servant.” That was not a compliment. He was both mean-spirited and lazy. He didn’t take heed–and he fell hard.

“Taking heed” includes:

1) Vulnerability. James urges us: “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Walking in the light means that we don’t have secrets. If we have a secret for more than a week, it has us.

2) Awareness of Satan’s sinister plans. He wants to take us out. Oh how Satan rejoices when someone with a successful ministry is picked off. Paul called it “craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14). We are called to “stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). May you stand–as you take heed!


Jesus left a place of safety for rejection. He left honor for shame, glory for humiliation.The eternal God became vulnerable enough to be heard, seen, touched, scrutinized, and abused.


Vulnerable at birth. Think about it: confining your world to the body of a teenage girl. You were the Word spoken that created the world. Now you cannot speak. You who communicated within the blessed Trinity, now unable to vocalize except through crying.

Vulnerability in the family. Big brother Jesus lived with continual misunderstanding. He was accused of judging them, though his righteous actions judged them. The fact that his family did not believe in him until after the resurrection says something about how His siblings felt toward him. When they came to rescue Him from madness (Mark 3:21), He repudiated His mother and family in favor of those who followed Him. Tension!


Vulnerability with his disciples. He chose unlikely front men to get people ready for his coming. At times their inability to get it got to Him: “How long must I be with you?” The band He prepared to leave did not show signs of taking over the world. They were still asking basic questions about His identity.

Vulnerability at the cross. Jesus at his weakest, God at His strongest. Total exposure, hands stretched out defenselessly. Vulnerability literally means “the willingness to be wounded.” People hurled insults at Him and did not get a response back.

The vulnerability of Jesus stands in stark contrast with the lack of vulnerability of two groups in the gospels:

Religious leaders. They were not preaching the lie—they were living it. Jesus called them hypocrites, which literally means “play actors.” They presumed to walk in holiness. In truth, they were wicked men, feeding off the people. Their insecurity kept them from vulnerability. The prodigal was honest, the elder brother was not. The tax collector was vulnerable (“Have mercy on me a sinner;”) the Pharisee was not (“God, I thank you that I am not like other people”).

Disciples. Jesus wanted them to adopt the position of weak and dependent children, asking an extravagant Father to meet their needs, but they chose the stance of sophisticated and self-confident adults arguing about position and importance. Their insecurity showed in their unwillingness to assume the posture of a servant and wash feet. Jesus knew who He was and carried out the assignment. Humility is a mark of vulnerability, a quality the disciples didn’t learn until after Jesus left them.

Two Primary Models Used By Jesus

Children are naturally vulnerable. They are not too proud to express need, to ask questions, to reveal what they do not know. They are not sophisticated. They don’t normally have discussions about relative greatness. They tend to be more inclusive than exclusive.

Servants do not own anything. They are stewards of what belongs to their master. Unlike the religious leaders, servants have no reputation to protect and no constituency to impress. They stand on the low end of the totem pole and they have no pretense about their sense of importance. They have a one-track mind—doing the will of their master.

Take your pick: you can be like the Pharisees and insecure disciples or like honest kids and servants—and JESUS!


A pastor friend was told that the marriage was over unless he did something soon. He listened, got help, and their marriage is stronger than ever. His vulnerability by going public in an article helped struggling couples.

Leif Hetlund said at a conference that he was addicted to opium for years because of back pain. Leaders who show vulnerability tell us normal folk we don’t need to hide. He leveled the playing field.

Dan spoke about joy to our young adults. He wanted joy not conditioned by circumstances but said he wasn’t there. That helped others acknowledge their lack. Vulnerability releases grace.

My son wrote his siblings confessing that he fell short in being a grace-oriented elder brother. His younger brother, with whom he had experienced some tension, wrote two weeks later exposing his failures. Parents hope for such honesty among children. What a gift to give to a family—or a spouse!

Vulnerability releases vulnerability, that heals relationships and upgrades love. “When we walk in the light…we have fellowship with one another” (I John 1:7).

I asked my children to share with me where I had failed them as a father. They didn’t wait ten seconds. I reacted inside but managed to keep quiet. More hard responses came (ouch!) that led to healing.

Vulnerable: L. vulnerare, to wound, from vulnus, a wound. 1. That which can be wounded. 2. open to criticism or attack.

Beverly told Jerry he was putting in too many hours and not spending enough time with the children. Jerry had just heard a sermon about humbling ones self, but instead fired back: “I work hard to provide for the family. Why are you so critical?” Beverly closed down and kept her misery inside.

Craig risked telling his boss about the working conditions, the short lunch, and the absence of breaks, saying change could improve employee satisfaction. He was sure Martin would appreciate the recommendation. Instead, he cut Craig’s hours and told him he was a whiner. A different response would have increased his bottom line.

Kerry appreciates his wife and lets her know often. When he told her recently that he wondered if she maybe talked on the phone just a little too much, she blew—and got on the phone to tell her mom about her mean husband. Defensiveness destroys relationships.

The captain told the coach that maybe they were losing games because of tension between players. The coach fought back a trigger defense and asked for more information. A meeting with the team aired some differences and improved their record dramatically.

Vulnerability goes low, accepts criticism, acknowledges weakness, overcomes pride, encourages people to be themselves. Pharisees can’t do it because they are hiding. So are many leaders, bosses and spouses. Not Paul: “I came to you in weakness and fear and with much trembling” (I Cor.2:3). Vulnerability is not cheap psychology; it is central to the gospel of God!

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor.12:9,10). When people are vulnerabile, God turns weakness into strength. Not a bad exchange.