It might come as a surprise to you but I’ve worked with a lot of pastors over the years. These men are charismatic and influential figures within their congregation. They’re looked up to as father figures, as mentors, as guides, as coaches. They managed to succeed despite their struggles with pornography that went on behind the scenes.
This wasn’t the case for me. When I was in the midst of my pornography addiction I was certainly not charismatic. I didn’t know how to communicate, I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t even study. I had a hard time in college because the anxiety was so overwhelming and speaking up in front of people was out of the question.
It’s interesting that many pastors I work with hide their pornography addiction for years, but still find a way to succeed in spite of it. How do these pastors, or men in other similar influential positions, stay successful while battling their out-of-control behaviors? What qualities do they have that empower them to maintain a positive public image while struggling behind closed doors?
Influential Men Share Some Common Traits
I’ve found that these influential men have several traits in common. They share a set of characteristics that let them keep up appearances while clamoring with their demons in their personal time. The following are a few of these traits I’ve noticed over time.
Most of these outwardly influential men I work with share a narcissistic trait. They believe in themselves to the point of delusion. These men believe they’re here for a specific purpose that they’re uniquely designed and qualified to fill. Sometimes this masquerades as their calling. They believe they’re fulfilling a calling that they’re destined to follow.
I also notice these men display obsessive and sometimes even compulsive tendencies. They’re obsessed with specific tasks and will not step back from or let go of them until they’re completed to perfection.
Influential men tend to err on the side of dramatics, theatricality, and general exaggeration. They’re expressive when communicating and are especially capable of drawing people in with their message. Placed in the right environment, these exuberant communicators have a knack for becoming successful.
Covering the Pain of the Past
Many of these influential men I work with come from a history of trauma. They experienced some form of abandonment, neglect, or abuse that caused a deep psychological wound. Pornography or other out-of-control behaviors offered some distraction and relief from the pain of their past.
As they grow up and take on an influential role, like those who become pastors, they start to gain some form of status and power. People look up to them and appreciate their contributions to the world.
Members of their congregation thank them for the sermon they gave. Couples appreciate the guidance and support they receive during marriage counseling. Their inbox is filled with messages from people who respect and look up to them, who are grateful for their message.
These men gain a sense of positive validation from their growing prestige. It instills a belief that they’re still okay, even if they’re struggling behind closed doors. They cover their feelings of shame with the positive feedback they receive from their parishioners.
But How Do They Hide?
How do these influential individuals keep their behaviors hidden, though? What is it that keeps them getting away with it for so long? I’ve noticed two things in particular over my years of working with dozens of men in this position.
Influential men build trust with their congregation or their followers over time. People assume pastors, priests, and other religious leaders prescribe to the precepts of their religion. They’re seen as a direct conduit to God, someone who communicates directly with a deity. Parishioners trust their minister because of the religious beliefs that they assume their minister adheres to.
Once they’re in this position, they feel they have a responsibility to their congregation. They’ve built a sense of trust that they don’t want to break. They love what they do and want to maintain the work they’ve done, but don’t know how to stop their behaviors.
Many of these men spend a good portion of time alone. You’ve probably heard that saying, “It’s lonely at the top.” Leaders have things they alone are responsible for. They’re in a position that places a tremendous amount of pressure on them. They feel they need to be a perfect person, one who can overcome it all.
This pressure increases their feelings of isolation. It feels like no one understands what they’re dealing with, especially when they’re balancing a pornography addiction. This forces them to push the secret of their addiction further and further into hiding.
Facing Fear and Rebooting
It seems easier for these men to look at the appreciation and trust of their congregation and use it as a reason to keep their addiction hidden. They don’t want to disappoint their congregation, their families, or themselves. When they’ve spent years building their identity, success, and livelihood around their image in the church, it’s terrifying to confront the truth. It’s terrifying to finally acknowledge the reality of the situation they’re in.
I do want to be clear: the pastors I work with are not bad men. They’re not intentionally harming the people who trust and believe in them. That’s what makes pornography addiction such a difficult battle to fight. These men aren’t inherently bad but they have developed a harmful behavior they must overcome.
There is a ton of fear that comes with overcoming pornography addiction as a pastor. But pastors who want to overcome their behaviors must eventually accept the devastating situation they’re in. They must face the reality of their position if they want to reboot successfully. And I’m here to assure you that pastors can have a successful reboot, too.
Pastors and other influential men can reboot just like everyone else in the Porn Reboot group. As long as they commit to changing and apply the system in their life, they can leave their pornography addiction and out-of-control behaviors behind. The Porn Reboot system works for any man willing to take responsibility for his behaviors and make changes in his life!