FEET OF CLAY—This is one of my all-time favorite passages:
By knuckling under to his deviousness, knowing I couldn’t miss a paycheck, I sold a piece of my soul. It’s something I never intended to do, and I deeply regret my complicit. By the time I became fully aware of what was happening, the water in the pot was already boiling. I had become part of the problem, which as you can imagine, is a painful admission for me to make.
As I think about my situation, it reminds me of a commercial that aired many years ago. It hit the mark perfectly with its witty, profound message. Slightly dark, satirical, and irreverent, the commercial was thought provoking, while also being entertaining.
It starts with half-a-dozen clean-cut, all-American grade-schoolers announcing to us, the listening audience, what they want to be when they grow up—what their lifetime goals and aspirations are. Expecting them to say they want to become doctors, teachers, engineers, or professional athletes, I was surprised by what they actually said. One nine-year-old girl proudly announced: “When I grow up, I want to be the office gossip.” A ten-year-old followed with boyish bravado, “When I grow up, I want to be a brownnoser.” The other kids made similar ignominious assertions. It was hysterical. I can’t remember the product these kids were peddling, but I grinned from ear-to-ear each time I watched the commercial.
The satire was obvious. Nobody sets his or her career goal to be cowardly, devious, or ingratiating. Nor does anyone want to end up being a brownnoser. When young people enter the workplace, they have praiseworthy, high-minded goals. You can see it in their eyes when they graduate from high school and college. During nearly every commencement ceremony, those graduating listen to a successful businessman or politician pontificate about how the current generation has the unique ability to change the world, making it a better place for each of us, while at the same time, accumulating substantial wealth to enjoy “the good life.”
During commencement, when you look from one smiling face to the next, you can see hope radiating from these young people. Coupled with their enthusiastic smiles, each graduate anticipates the future, believing he or she will produce noble, praiseworthy accomplishments. They are convinced their dreams will soon become a reality. All that is required to achieve their dream is hard work—performed honestly and honorably.
Unfortunately, for most, that’s all it ever becomes—a dream. Reality is far different than what they believe it will be, making the commercial as poignant as it was funny. The “real world” produces far more brownnosers than men and women who stand by their convictions—especially if negative consequences are certain to follow.
This is no surprise; but if this dichotomy is true in the world of politics and business, the difference between aspirations and reality is even more pronounced for those who choose to serve Christ by working for ministries. Nearly all who pursue this path—the road less traveled—do so for altruistic reasons, sacrificing material gain as part of their noble calling. It just goes with the territory. They decide that fulfilling their dreams can best be accomplished by working for the Lord, which is a praiseworthy ambition.
Serving Christ, however, also means being employed by the ministries, mega-churches, and publishers that champion His name. This is where a huge disconnect occurs. Working for Christian leaders has little resemblance to what most envision life would be like serving the Lord. It’s different—worlds apart really—but not in a healthy way.
The stars of Christendom—those whose faces and voices are easily recognized by millions—bear little resemblance to the biblical version of Christ or the principles He taught. Somewhere along the way, the career path for many who have been “chosen to lead” takes a sharp turn from the biblical standard, producing an entitled mentality, elitist behavior, and a consumptive lifestyle most would consider antithetical to the desires of a servant of God.
Jack Watts

MY PRAYER: Father,
As I have done so many times before,
I come before You feeling worthless,
Feeling like I can never hold my head high,
Feeling broken, scorned, and devalued.
The Scriptures teach that my transgressions,
Which have been so egregious, have been forgiven,
But I cannot seem to forgive myself for what I’ve done.
I can’t divest myself of my culpability.
My sin is ever before me,
Relentlessly wearing me down, grinding me down,
Telling me that I am not a good person,
Which in my heart I know is true.
Living in a dense fog of despair,
I wander through life purposelessly,
Never free from shame, never able to be myself,
Never able to experience sustained peace or joy.
I want to find pleasure in life and to cast aside
My debilitating low self-esteem,
But I have no power to accomplish this task,
Regardless of my earnest desire to do so—
Regardless of my determined efforts to believe differently.
My enemies scold me for my wrongdoing,
Wagging their condescending fingers in delight,
Mocking me with their disingenuous smiles,
Reminding me of what I have done—never letting go.
They seem confident my life will never have value again.
I loathe their reproachful, insincere counsel,
Which constantly reminds me of my failure.
It chips away at my self-worth each day, everyday.
Help me, Father. I have no place to turn but to You.
Forgive me and restore me to wholeness.
Help me regain my strength and sense of wellbeing.
Let my heart know joy and serenity once again.
Teach me to face my enemies with self-confidence,
Knowing that their condemnation no longer has merit—
Now when I have found complete forgiveness in You,
Jack Watts

MY PRAYER: Father,
As I observe those who call upon Your name
To fulfill their trivial, meaningless desires—
Those who are always craving and never satisfied,
Those who constantly demand more from You—
Like ravenous, all consuming gluttons—
I’m amazed at how little they understand
Either Your nature or Your purpose in life for them.
Mellifluously, they say, “Praise the Lord,”
In a voice that quavers with calculated sanctimony,
But in their self-serving hearts, they do not seek You.
Instead, they seek a way to take advantage of others—
To manipulate the innocent to achieve nefarious goals,
Which they cloak in a shroud of religious altruism.
Winning at the expense of those who must lose,
They smile greedily, having successfully conned their prey.
As I watch and listen, I still remember a time,
When I was young, naïve, and easily fooled—
When I was unable to discern their deceptive intentions.
But that was then, and things have changed.
When I observe them now, I recognize how devious,
Self-serving, and cunning they really are.
In their hearts, they harbor pretense and treachery,
While craftily displaying a facade of external humility.
When I was innocence and naive, I was easily deceived.
Trusting by nature, I believed they had been sent by You
And that they had my best interests at heart.
As I reflect upon their actions decades later,
Having weathered their malice, manipulation and treachery,
I see the fruitlessness of their constant scheming.
Now, when I look for them, they cannot be found.
While I smile at the future, regardless of what it may hold,
I have learned that coming to You in complete honesty
Is the only path that will lead to a life of lasting contentment,
—Jack Watts

MY PRAYER: Confronting Fear

MY PRAYER: Father,
Sometimes I’m so afraid
That my skin grows cold
And I can hardly breathe.
I feel so helpless and all alone.
I’m afraid of so many things—
Of people, of places, of isolation,
Of death, and of economic insecurity.
The list seems endless, and I am powerless
To calm the fears that rob me of my serenity.
Without Your protective shielding,
I fear that imminent devastation
Will be my destiny, crushing me completely.
I am so consumed with fear that I cannot hear
Your calming reassurance.
In my heart, I know You are my immovable refuge.
My only hope is to rely on You completely.
In You, I am safe and sheltered from the storm
That threatens to destroy my future.
Help me to be calm, confident, and serene,
Regardless of my perplexing situation.
Help me to stand firm and never shrink away,
Regardless of the uncertainties that lay ahead.
Help me dwell in the safety of Your strength.
Guide me and protect me each day of my life,
For as many days that are left—one day at a time,

MY PRAYER: Father,
I am grateful for all that You have done.
I am so honored that You would love me
And would pay attention to my needs.
On my best days, which seem to be rare,
When I am peaceful and tranquil—
When I am confident You are in charge
And that I need not fret or worry—
I acknowledge how truly blessed I am.
Help me live in this truth each day.
Help me show others that You care
And that You are always available.
Let people see by my actions
The depth of my confidence in You;
Let them be convinced Your ways are worthy—
And You are always wise and prudent.
Teach me to refrain from boastful arrogance,
And let the pride of life be far from me.
Do not let this be my witness; Do not allow me
To push those who seek You further away,
Rather than help them draw nearer in time of need.
Teach me to be mindful that whatever I do,
Whether positive or negative, that it reflects on You—
On Your holy name,
Jack Watts

FEET OF CLAY: I wrote “Recovering from Religious Abuse,” an 11-step program to help jaded, cynical believers to regain their faith, while simultaneously dealing with being used, abused, and discarded by religious leaders.
“Feet of Clay,” although fictionalized, tells the stories of abuse. Every Christian who has worked for a ministry should read it. Here is a review:
“This is a real work of art that pushes aside the false fronts, ego’s and personal agendas that are far more common in ministries than you may think. Like Jack, I know… I have been there. So many believers with hearts that are totally for the Lord have been discouraged, lied to, manipulated and disappointed in those that they once thought were God’s Spiritual elite..only to find out that while they were told “We are here for you!” in reality they were of little no concern to these Mjnistry giants. In seeing the reality that has been hidden behind trumped up needs only to discover later that it served only to satisfy the self-centerd-ness and ego’s of Christian leaders. If you are one who has been deceived, offended, hurt by ministries you once held in high esteem… you must read this book. You will discover that it was not GOD who betrayed you…but people in the flesh. You will experience an inner healing from what you learn from Jack Watts.”

MY PRAYER: Father,
You are the Master Architect,
Engineering the events of my life,
Providing an opportunity for me
To rise to the occasion each day of my life.
At times, Your leading seems clear,
While at other times, it seems obscure,
Appearing to be so distant
That I cannot discover or discern it,
Regardless of how assiduously I try.
Even when Your presence eludes me,
I know that You are there.
You are always guiding me—
Always present, always vigilant.
As my life becomes increasingly visible
And people occasionally look to me for guidance,
Let my life speak of what You have done—
Not by my words, which seem so inadequate,
But by my actions, which are observable by all.
Oh, how I loathe the pompously religious—
Those who are condescending, arrogant, and unyielding.
May I never be like them—like those who talk about
Your love and guidance, while seeking an advantage.
Let my witness be evident by my actions,
And not by my mellifluous words,
Which can be self-serving and serpentine,
Jack Watts