Texas Baptist Voices

Jeff Johnson: Addictions? Texas Baptist Counseling Services can help

I recently purchased some lip balm, because my wife said I constantly was licking my lips, and it was annoying her. Now, I wake up every day with the need for a lip-balm fix. Yes, it started with just one mint-flavored tube.

jeff johnson130Jeff JohnsonPerhaps your addiction is more conventional—nicotine, drugs, food, sex, videos, gambling. Maybe you’re a confessed chocoholic. Shopping anyone? Or your relationships with your spouse, your employer, your friends have broken down because your addictive personality has driven you into all manner of cyber-deviancy. In an addiction-afflicted society, there is no shortage of possibilities.

My youngest daughter and I recently watched what she labeled “an old show” called Real World. (She was right. I looked it up, and it is now in its 29th season. How did I miss this?) In this episode, a girl falls down drunk in a dive, throws up half-naked in the shower, and has her stomach pumped in an ambulance. Other scenes showed her drinking at home, then at a club and later being carried by a bouncer. The “intervention” saw her lashing out at her friends and relatives who urged her to check into rehab. No way you’re going to confuse this with a rerun of Leave it to Beaver.

Addiction. It’s a crippling affliction. The addiction in her case clearly was destructive. When she was asked how she felt about going into rehab, she said: “I did it for one reason and one reason only—to find out from the ‘experts’ if I was an alcoholic or not. After laying it all down on the table and all is said and done, they said I had a ‘potential’ to be one, but they also said, ‘most college students have a potential.’ I don’t crave alcohol. I enjoy it.”

And that’s precisely the danger of addictions. They’re so enjoyable. It’s a struggle to be rid of them.

texas baptist voices right120As a church leader, I see a host of people each week with major challenges, many with addictions. As a pastor, I have learned, in the words of a famous TV detective, “to live within my limitations.” I know the word “referral.”

Allow me to introduce you to Katie Swafford, the director of our Texas Baptist Counseling Services. Katie is a licensed counselor. She and her team are an extremely relevant and timely resource for Texas Baptists. They offer confidential assessments, counseling and referral services for ministers and their families, counseling resources for all Texas Baptists, as well as educational presentations on mental health topics to promote overall well-being and healthy living.

Perhaps you’re addiction-free. You don’t struggle as a Christian with the hard-core addictions. For me, I must confess my obsession for lip balm is probably not an addiction. I just like the wintergreen mint taste (I think).

However, there are addictions less visible but just as insidious. I have found pride, ambition and work can be home-wreckers and life-destroyers, too. Maybe you just need someone to listen and help you focus again or a referral. Contact our Texas Baptist Counseling Services at (800) 388-2005 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Jeff Johnson is president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and pastor of First Baptist Church in Commerce.

Care to comment? Send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Maximum length for publication is 250 words.

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