Pastors in Recovery

When members of his congregation staged an intervention, Pastor Howard Hoekstra was ready. He had tried for 10 years to quit drinking—on his own. So when faced with others' concern, he simply responded, "You're right; I have a problem." That was the day he started his recovery.

Ten years earlier, working as a youth pastor, Hoekstra first wondered if he might have an addiction. Preparing to lead his students in a study about alcoholism, he found a self-assessment in an Alcoholics Anonymous manual. He answered the questions and "flunked" the test. So he tried to curb his drinking.

Hoekstra's parents had strictly prohibited alcohol and kept his grandfather's alcoholism a secret. In college he joined a fraternity and started drinking a lot on weekends. "I didn't think much about it; that was what all the guys did." After college he went to seminary, where "three or four of us used to party a lot." After seminary he drank to ease ...

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