Wholehearted Ministry
Image: Larry Washburn/Getty

Wholehearted Ministry

How to get "working for the Lord" right
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Like many others I’ve known, I was a driven leader. I reasoned—rather, gave the excuse—I was doing my work wholeheartedly for God. The truth is, something else was more deeply rooted in my life, causing me to seek success, validation, and honor from other people. I needed to let God work on my heart. After more than 20 years of marriage, I was finally realizing I had a problem, and I began to seek solutions. But for my wife, it was too late. Heidi had given up on me and our marriage, and we were heading toward divorce.

Now I needed those men in my small group, and they were there for me. They prayed for me. They encouraged me. They held me accountable. I didn’t want to give up on my marriage, so I decided to fight for my wife, serve her, love her unconditionally, pray for her daily, and trust God. I was hurting, but I had men in my corner. I felt hopeless, but I knew God was in control.

One night, I felt led to take a run in our neighborhood—which is strange because I’m not a runner. Yet I obeyed what I thought was an urging from the Holy Spirit. As I jogged, I sensed God speaking clearly to me. I heard neither an audible voice nor a promise of how this situation would end—whether in divorce or reconciliation—but I sensed God’s assurance he would eventually use all this for his purposes and glory. It was a moment of hope in the midst of uncertainty.


Weeks of separation from my wife turned into months. I remember the day I read Psalm 50:15: “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” That day, I wrote in my journal, “God will rescue me and my kids in all of this. We simply must trust him. And when he does rescue us, it will be because he has done something only he could do! That’s the only way for him to receive glory!”

During this long walk through a dark valley, God was teaching me to surrender to him, how to live a humble, servant-oriented life, and how to love people as God loves me—no matter what. I determined to love Heidi the same way—to humbly serve her, and to wait on God to move in a way only he could.

I also learned what it really means to trust God. I knew he specializes in mending what is broken, even resurrecting what is dead. Finally, it seemed my prayers—and those of our friends—were being answered. Heidi and I started to talk, then spend some time together, but she wasn’t ready to reconcile. She liked the changes she was seeing in me, but wanted to make sure they were real and would last.

When Heidi’s grandmother in New Jersey passed away, I made the 12-hour drive with Heidi from Louisville. During that trip, God worked in ways only he could. We returned home with a new commitment to work on our marriage together. Our relationship was reconciled, and our marriage is now stronger than ever. We have continued to see God’s faithfulness as we grow together and work as a couple through the life circumstances that still come our way.


Several months after our reconciliation, our men’s group sensed it was time to multiply, so I and two other guys stepped out to start a new group. God brought two men into our new group who were struggling in their marriages. God began using what I had learned to help them surrender their relationships—and, more importantly, their lives—to him. But God wasn’t finished. About a year later, I was asked to speak at two small-group conferences in Brazil. I had not planned to tell my story there, and it wasn’t in my notes, but suddenly, I just knew I had to. I don’t think I’ve ever taught a message in such a bold way, but I sensed that the hundreds of pastors needed to hear my story and what I learned from it.

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