Working with people in recovery is as rewarding as it is frustrating.  There are a lot of negative attitudes that you have to deal with in yourself and  in those you minister to.

The attitudes in yourself that can really get in the way are not easy to deal with because you have to be very honest.  And that hurts your pride.  It does mine.  For me, the biggest obstacle in reaching out to those who are struggling with addiction is the urge I have to solve everybody’s  problems.  We all know that doesn’t work very well. You get exhausted and then you get angry and resentful because people don’t do as you want them to do.

You forget that even you don’t have a very good track record in that department.  Paul’s famous admission; “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate . . . ” (Romans 7:15) should remind us not to hold others to a standard we can’t even live up to most of the time.  Paul tells us; “. . .  you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” (Romans 2:1)

The reality is that it’s not my job to solve other people’s problems or to change them.  I have been given a message to bring to people; ” . . . if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation .  . . ” (2 Corinthians 5:17,18)  The fullness of this message when heard and held on to by those listening will do the work and change their lives; “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”  (Philipians 2:13)  I am not anybody’s saviour. Jesus saves us all!

One of the biggest  roadblocks  addicts and recovering addicts put up to hinder the delivery of God’s message of reconciliation is the  attitude that people who have never been addicted don’t understand the addict’s problems and so have nothing worthwhile to offer.  On the one hand they see sobriety as something desirable but believe life long sober people don’t know what they are talking about.  Often this attitude is earned by many insensitive and outright ignorant things us ‘do gooders’ say.   Anna David illustrates the attitude and why all of us have earned it at some time or another; “When you’re sober, many people just have no clue where you’re coming from. Here are five not-so-informed things “normies” normally say to me—and how I attempt to respond.”  The best thing I have found as a ‘do gooder’ is to listen, listen, listen and when I’m asked stick to God’s message of reconciliation.  I’m living it out as a repentant (and repenting) sinner so I can speak about it.

The real damage this negative attitude towards ‘non- addict’ sober people is that a kind of negative pride grows in the addict or recovering addict.  They have all the ‘street smarts’ you don’t and so you don’t know what you’re talking about.  Anything you say is discounted because ‘you don’t really understand’.  Sometimes they begin to think they are smart because they ‘outsmart’ other people who want to believe in them.   The tendency to manipulate, play on a person’s sympathies and score some money for smokes or a phone card becomes impossible to resist in some cases.  Using starts well before the drug of choice – it starts with using those who mean you no harm  and why not take advantage of them – ‘they don’t understand’. 

Eventually, this traps a person in lies – little and few  at first growing in the moldy darkness of the person’s twisted ‘street pride’ to big and nasty at the end stage.  Ultimately the pride that the attitude ‘people just don’t understand me’ brings a person to is self deception.  And for an addict that is the killer; “The most common reason why people relapse after a period of sobriety is that they become stuck in recovery. This often happens because they have stopped being honest with themselves and other people. They feel unwilling to face a challenge on the path before them so they try to hide from it in denial. No further progress can occur until the individual can clearly acknowledge what the problem is and be willing to take action to remedy the situation.”  (The Importance of Honesty in Recovery)  You can hide and fool most everybody in your life including yourself but you can’t hide from God; “For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes. ”  (Jeremiah 16:17)  This is as true for me as it is for the relapsing person – none of us can hide from God.

Again, pride works a terrible destruction in the recovering addict’s life.  He believes he’s so smart that he outsmarts himself with denial.  He measures other people with a twisted broken yard stick and finds them lacking.  He then justifies his lack of honesty with the idea that they wouldn’t understand and can’t really ‘solve’ his problems never thinking that they aren’t  responsible for his problems.  He is.  Men are responsible for solving their own problems by working their own program; “. . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; . . .  Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life . . . ” (Philippians 2:12, 14-16)

That’s true recovery!