“Weird, weak, and boring – that was once my view of God’s people,” said Kyle Sullivan. “The Christians I knew growing up in California seemed cultish and certainly not cool. I thought they didn’t have anything else to do, so they went to church. Nothing about following Christ seemed adventurous to me, so I looked for fun elsewhere.
“I actually grew up going to church and understood the free gift of grace that was available to me through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. I knew Jesus as Savior, but I had no idea what it meant to obey Him as Lord. I never understood that God had my best interest at heart or that following Him would lead to life. I also grew up without a relationship with my biological father and without a role model for my spiritual life. So, I looked for affirmation in sports, friendships, and women. Eventually, seeking approval in football became my god.
“I walked on to the SMU football team and later joined a fraternity. Between football and frat life, I was knee-deep in the party scene, alcohol, and women. Fortunately, God also connected me with a guy who was a strong believer, knew the gospel, and was living it out. Through our friendship, I started opening the Bible and figuring out what I really believed.
“I wish I could say that I was completely transformed in one day, but my story is centered around God’s patience and grace toward me. As I explored God’s Word and learned it was His love letter to us, I was living with one foot in the party scene and the other in Scripture. I was starving for affirmation from an earthly father, and by God’s grace, the Lord provided that support through the relationships I had in a men’s Bible study.
“I came to Watermark my junior year of college. My heart was still divided between the world and life with Christ. I’d go to a bar, knowing intellectually that I would never find life there, but not having the courage to stand up. That pattern continued after I graduated and took a job in medical sales in Dallas. I’d show up at Summit Men’s Bible Study hung over and guilty from the night before. I can truly say that I was living the worst of both worlds.
“I chased money and career for several years, moving to Austin and Oklahoma City along the way. I was isolated and riddled with guilt from my struggle with lust and pornography. Finally, I had the opportunity to either move to San Diego or Dallas. God gave me a sense of peace about moving back to Dallas, and that’s when I decided to be all in with Jesus.
“The world’s view of masculinity was fleeting and disappointing, and I wanted to be around Christ-following men who could show me how to live out my faith. It was a long process, but God steadily taught and sanctified me. I learned that we serve a God full of joy, and in the context of His Word, there is a flourishing life to be found. I have met so many friends who were living faithfully without sacrificing real fun and adventure.
“I’ve been in the same community group for the last four years and have had the opportunity to serve as a group leader for a while. One of my favorite things God has shown me in community is the beauty of locking arms with guys who love Jesus and are from diverse backgrounds and have different gifts from me. This is the first time I’ve viewed accountability and authenticity as assets and the tools that God can use to make me the man I want to be. Each one of these guys reminds me of the Lord’s goodness and that God is not out to rip me off; He wants to set me free.
“I also serve at The Porch, Watermark’s ministry for young adults in their 20s and 30s. I often meet guys who were just like I was a few years ago. Frequently, men think their sin struggles are unique and have never told anyone about them before. God regularly gives me the opportunity to share my testimony, confess my own sin, and share with others that God is good and is here to set us free. Being on-mission and living out what Jesus has called me to do has allowed my mess to become my message.
“When I look back at the wrong views I had about God and His people, I thought the abundant life was just about avoiding sin rather than actively pursuing God and obeying His Word. When I could not do that, the momentary pleasure I pursued in girls, bars, and parties was never enough. God, in His goodness, kept convicting me until I finally acknowledged that any well other than God’s would always run dry. Now that my identity is in Christ, I know that ‘the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.’ (Romans 6:23) Avoiding sin wasn’t about my will power, it was about my willingness to submit to the Lord and His plans. He knows what satisfies my heart, and life in Him has given me more freedom and joy than I ever thought was possible.”