I wrote a blog post about step 6 which states, “we were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” I’ve been working a 12 step recovery program for 10+ years now and do the steps over and over many times.
I’m a task-oriented person and while none of the steps are easy, I have an easier time with the steps that have clearly defined action steps.
For example, step 4, “We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Additionally, in Celebrate Recovery, we are given worksheets with a skeleton of how to take our moral inventory. It’s not an easy step to take, but I know what and how to do it.
Steps 6 and 7 are a little more nebulous.
Today, I’ll be digging a bit deeper into step 7 and more specifically what the bible has to say about it
We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and will forgive us of our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9 NIV
Firstly, I think it’s important to clarify the difference between defects of character, in step 6, and shortcomings in step 7.
Defect of Character in recovery implies moral and psychological flaws and failings in an individual.
Shortcomings are defined as a fault of failure to meet a certain standard, typically in a person’s character, a plan, or a system.
Difference between a Defect of Character and a Shortcoming
Okay, so you may still be saying what’s really the difference between being ready to have God remove my defects of character and humbly asking Him to remove all our shortcomings.
A strong mentor in my life explained it to me this way…
We identify our defects of character in step 4. For example, my biggest defects of character are self-pity and anger. Other examples could be greed, pride, gluttony, etc.
Shortcomings are when we actually act on a defect of character
As we learned in step 6, I need to be entirely ready to have God remove self-pity from me. I am over and over.
Additionally, as I explained in my expansion on step 6, sometimes God doesn’t remove these “thorns in our sides.” Why? Because God tells us His grace is sufficient for us and His power is made perfect in weakness. He may let our defects remain in us because it causes us to rely wholly on Him!!
Back to my example of self-pity. Today, I only experience self-pity occasionally. It’s a shadow of what I used to experience.
However, when it does come up, if I choose to actually act on it, that is a shortcoming. My typical shortcomings as a result of self-pity might be to isolate, practice negative self-talk or complain about others.
If your character defects still come up from time to time, the keys to successfully working steps 6 and 7 are to a.) be ready to have God remove your defects, and b.) don’t act on them!
Hopefully, that clarifies things.
What does the Bible say about Shortcomings?
Well, firstly we are going to fail to live up to holy standards because we are human. Romans 3;23 says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Additionally, 1 John 1:9 says, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and will forgive us of our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Moreover, I want to talk about Romans 6: 15 – 19,
15What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, 18 having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
There is a lot in there but I sum it up as we are no longer under the law and therefore forgiven for our sins. However, we should do our best to not continue in sin.
Verse 16 is really a warning that whatever or whoever we obey we are slaves to. It goes onto say we can continue being slaves to sin but that will lead to death.
Or we can be of the type of obedience which leads to righteousness. We can now rather be slaves to righteousness which leads to sanctification.
As I tell any new believer, sanctification is a process just like recovery is a process. As we continue to work the steps and grow in our faith, we become sanctified and our minds are renewed day by day.
The bottom line in this step is that if we fall short and commit a shortcoming, we should humbly repent. Repentance doesn’t just mean to apologize. It also means to turn from it. Therefore, we ask God to remove our shortcomings and allow for further sanctification.