Addictions will destroy you

By Gerry Lewis | Published Wednesday, November 8, 2017

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Anyone out there remember this TV commercial from the 1980s? It featured an egg and a cast iron skillet.

“This is your brain [the egg]. This is your brain on drugs [the egg cracked into the hot skillet]. Any questions?”

Whether that commercial was effective or not, it was memorable. And it made a valid point: drugs will destroy you.

Drugs are not the only addiction available; we have so many to choose from. Some of them are even found among the best people you know – honest people with high standards and impeccable integrity; people who are doing all the right things and making their communities better places to live; people who would never even put themselves in a position to become addicted to drugs, alcohol, pornography or any other substance or activity that would be embarrassing if it became public knowledge.

Yet, their addictions are slowly eroding their true calling, their sense of worth and their effectiveness in living with purpose.

How do I know this? In my 40 years of working with people in a church context, I’ve both seen it and experienced it.

I haven’t always had a name for it. That came in only the last few months, but how I wish someone had introduced this to me early on in “ministry.” I am abundantly indebted to my friends Dave Rhodes and Will Mancini who, through a life planning journey called Younique, introduced me to the concept of “Life Drifts.”

I don’t have the space available here to completely unpack the three Life Drifts, so let me summarize how these compulsions (that’s a much more palatable word than addictions) work.


When appetite becomes my compulsion, I am driven by my perceived needs. I am afraid that I’ll never have enough, and it’s not just tangible and materials things. I’ll never have enough friends. I’ll never have enough love and acceptance. So I’ll do whatever it takes to obtain those things, even if I have to overspend to buy them.


When ambition becomes my compulsion, I am driven by my perceived weaknesses. I feel guilty over how little I’ve accomplished. My guilt says I will never accomplish enough to be significant, so I’ll do everything that is asked of me and then some. I’ll feel guilty every time I say “no” because that choice will represent something I will fail to accomplish.


When approval becomes my compulsion, I am driven by my perceived rejections. I feel ashamed of every one of them. My shame says I will never be enough to truly merit acceptance, so I will endeavor to be the very best at everything. I won’t even try it if I don’t think I can eventually perfect it. I will try to earn acceptance by public achievement. If they don’t accept me for who I am, at least they will approve of what I do.

My friends, I have lived those Life Drifts and, if I am not careful, I can easily go there again.

But I have learned that my life matters to God and, in Christ, I am satisfied, strong and accepted. And I am free to be all He has created me to be.

Are you addicted? Are you drifting? Your life matters, too.

Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association in Decatur.

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