The Truth About Shame and Blessings, Part One

Alan Wright has been the pastor of Reynolda Church for 23 years, a church in Winston-Salem that’s over 100 years old with a full, incredible history. Today, it’s a multi-site congregation with four campuses and they are seeing God pour out His favor in new and exciting ways.

I recently interviewed Alan on The Dunham Podcast. Here’s the first part of our conversation.

Be encouraged!

Trent: In working with you, Alan, there’s not just clarity around your call, but there’s clarity around a specific message God has called you to unpack for believers in Christ. Give us a glimpse into that unique message…

Alan: One day, I was having a conversation with a Christian counselor in our church about addiction. He said, “I think there is shame behind it.”

I said, “What do you mean by that?”

He said, “I mean there is this belief that I don’t quite measure up as I am, and that I need to figure out what it is I need to do to measure up if I’m going to be fully accepted.”

I received an education in undergraduate school, completed two years of youth ministry, had been to seminary for three years, studied pastoral care including clinical pastoral education at the VA Hospital in Atlanta, and had been preaching for about eight years. Yet I didn’t know what he was talking about. I really didn’t understand the concept of shame.

I came home and started looking in Scripture and realized that the only thing that we know about a marriage in paradise was that Adam and Eve were naked and they were not ashamed. It was a relationship that has no shame. That is the definition of paradise. That’s heaven!

I began to see it all through the Scriptures and I realized, for me, shame had been like a hidden tyrant for years in my life. It was dictating the way I thought, felt, and acted. So much of my life was driven by this angst as I was unconsciously trying to prove something.

I then went on to preach for about 16 weeks at my church about how grace can heal shame, and it became a watershed time that was like a revival in our church. People who had never talked to anyone about problems in their life began to do so, and we saw so much transformation. It was just so powerful!

Trent: Alan, tell us more about your convictions around the concept of shame.

So many live under a cloud of shame when we have this beautiful gospel of grace that can heal. They live feeling like they have to run faster and jump higher in order to be accepted, while we have this gospel that announces that in Christ, we’re fully accepted in the Beloved. Shame is so very toxic.

Once I realized how important this issue was, I was preaching on it, leading conferences on it, and eventually wrote a book on it. The power of the gospel is the power unto salvation, and it’s so much bigger than getting to go to heaven.

It’s our freedom… our healing… our wholeness. The gospel itself means good news! The message of the good news of the gift of God in Jesus Christ is transformational. For the last 20 years, I have been learning just how powerful that gospel is, and I found it to be so much more than I’d ever known before.

I grew up in a broken home besieged with alcoholism, and yet, we appeared to be this wonderful family. Internally, I was making straight A’s and trying hard to be the best tennis player in the school. Yet, I wanted to live my life not in an attempt to prove that I’m worthy of being blessed, I wanted to live with the awareness I am blessed.

That’s the difference between joy versus drive, between life versus death. The more I learn about the grace of God, the more alive I become.

To hear more of this inspiring conversation, be sure to check out The Dunham Podcast episode, Truth About Shame and Blessings.

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