I watched the video of Stephen’s September, 2004 sermon (a link is posted towards the bottom of the SBMinistries home page) and it struck me that he frequently describes himself as a victim of circumstances.
Samples which stuck with me:
- Being devastated by ridicule from his family after they found love notes from his girlfriend in 6th grade.
- Having his first alcoholic drink morph into heavy drinking, and his first gay sex, all within a few hours.
- Jettisoning his college career just a couple months into freshman year because the end of his first relationship left him in emotional shambles.
- Returning home, finding his high school buddies were all gay, freshly out, and eager to lead the way to bars, sex, and drugs.
- Living contentedly as a gay man in a long-term relationship until challenged by a Bible from a newly-converted friend.
The same theme — being picked up and carried away by circumstances beyond his control — plays out as he describes his successes, as well.
- Prior to his dad’s funeral, he hadn’t sung much, but a pastor who heard him there asked him to do music ministry, paving the way to song-writing, recording, and performing.
- When Irene answered a phone call from an anti-gay fundraiser by saying something to the effect that “we can’t donate, but my husband used to be gay,” they were happily running a sign business, wanting nothing more or different from life. The phone call led to a national TV appearance a few weeks later.
- The TV appearance triggered an avalanche of phone calls which catapulted Stephen and Irene into international ministry.
In that context, it doesn’t surprise me that someone else was to blame when he pressed the wrong button and erased the hard drive of a critical computer a few days ago.
I wanted to watch the video to get a sense for what a casual conversation might be like with him. He seems affable, able to laugh at himself, and has solid creative and dramatic intuition with his music.
So, I can only imagine that he saw the humor in kicking off an exciting new writing project — his first book — on April Fool’s Day.
I wish him the best on the book-writing project. I certainly know what it’s like to have faced challenging circumstances and to have made decisions that don’t make sense in hindsight. I do my best to emulate folks I respect, who have been victimized at times yet insist on being survivors more than victims, understanding how their choices (good, bad, or other) have shaped their lives, and take active responsibility for good decision-making as they move forward.
I hope the writing time gives him the chance to be introspective about the ways the ways in which his exercise of critical thinking and free will (abilities and responsibilities given by God, perhaps) contributed to making his life good, and the ways in which less-than-optimal decisions, not Satan, have contributed to valuable lessons learned.