What Would I Tell my 23 Year old Self?



This is not a note of regret.

Rather, it is reminder of all that is important in my life today. The photograph above was taken in 1983 of me preaching in my first youth group in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Did I have any idea I I would host a national television show three years later? Did I have ever dream that I would pastor the largest student ministry in America? 

No. But yes. 

While I had doubts about the success I would find in ministry, I would be lying if I said I didn’t dream of doing all that I accomplished in the first 40 years of my life. As many of you know, eventually my life on the fast-track of success would result in the loss of my soul.

But it didn’t have to.

"Moments of achievement don’t ruin anyone. Being unprepared for the moment will ruin us."

So what would I tell this 23 year old kid, brimming with passion and dreams? 

Keep chopping wood. 

Because no matter how bright the blaze, every fire is doing one thing. It’s burning out. 

Keep doing the hard things. The mundane. The stuff that got the fire going in the first place.

Here’s the short list:


Not because it’s a break from work, but because it continually redefines why we work.

Remain grounded. 

Because popularity is always the straying lover. 

Say no to good stuff. 

Because one day there will be a “yes” to one of a million good things that will topple the house of cards.

Talk deeply about your struggles. 

Enslavement is a struggle that we refused to trust a friend with. A conversation we never had.

Find first century heroes. 

Read about the early Church Fathers. The call to community and the sacrifices endured will alter our perspective on what it means to live faithfully. 

Pray the Lord’s Prayer three times daily. 

This was a practice of early Christians. It centers us. Reminds us what is important. And brings a little more of heaven to earth. 

Live a life greater than your expectations. 

Not everything you hope for is going to happen. People are going to let you down. YOU are going to let you down. Find joy in the moment. Each person you meet. Each breath you take. Give all, but live free. 

Live loved. 

God loves you. End of story. Love is not God’s paycheck for performance. When we fail to believe that goodness and mercy are following us, the wolfish predators of shame and self-hatred will always be on our heels. 

Do not be afraid to ask for help. 

When I was in the throes of my bondage to porn and lust, I allowed fear to arrest me from getting help. What if my ministry was taken away? What would people think of me? Here's what I know today. It would have saved my ministry. And people would have admired my courage to be honest. 

So pick up your axe. There’s still wood to be chopped.

I am so excited about Easter Week 2107. It is going to be a monumental celebration for Lori and I. That is the day we will introduce my brand new book, "The Seven Dirty Little Secrets of Resurrection," subtitled "My crash, my confession and my comeback from sexual addiction." 



I believe there are seeds for resurrection living in all of us who have embraced the work of Christ.

That week, we will engage in a resurrection journey together.

I so look forward to chronicling the story of "The Final Week of my Life" in a series of seven emails during Passion Week leading up to Easter Sunday, April 16th. I will candidly rehearse the happenings of each day that put me in the grave, but more importantly, I will share the seven secrets that empowered me to resurrection.

If you have not signed up to receive this email series, click here and hit the join button.

Let's pray together as we move towards Easter. I am believing that the Lord is going resurrect new hope, new assignments and new passion in your life

Blaine Bartel
Comeback Coach. Resurrectionist. Jesus flag-waver. 


For mentoring and coaching, click here.
To inquire about Blaine speaking at your church or event, click here.
For info our upcoming Pastor’s Roundtable with Ruth Graham, click here.