DCL 5.3 Instruction | Is The Past Holding You Hostage?

Someone who is unable to get over previous hurts and failures is held hostage by the past. The baggage he carries around makes it very difficult for him to move forward. It is next to impossible for a person to achieve while holding on to past failures and difficulties.

A key quality in the life of an achiever is the ability to put past events behind him and move on. That quality positions a person to tackle current challenges with enthusiasm and a minimum of burden­some personal baggage.


Video Presentation: Todd Mullins, Lead Pastor and Shaun Blakeney, Student Ministry Pastor, Christ Fellowship, Florida


The problems of people’s pasts impact them in one of two ways: they experience either a breakdown or a breakthrough. The following five characteristics are signs that people have not gotten over past difficulties:

1.  Comparison: they continually talk about how much more they have endured than others.

2.  Rationalisation: they make excuses for why they should not get over past difficulties.

3.  Isolation: they withdraw from as many people as possible.

4.  Regret: they live with a feeling of remorse or sorrow.

5.  Bitterness: they are filled with hostility.


Every major difficulty you face in life is a fork in the road. You choose which track you will head down— toward a breakdown or a breakthrough.

If you have been badly hurt, below are some steps to follow that will help bring healing and help you move forward. The process may be difficult, but with the Lord’s help you can do it. Today may be the day to turn the hurts of your past into a breakthrough for your future. Please do not allow anything from your personal history to keep holding you hostage.

Here is the process to follow:

1.  Acknowledge the pain.

2.  Grieve the loss.

3.  Forgive the person (or persons) who were involved in hurting you.

4.  Forgive yourself.

5.  Determine to release the event and move on.

6.  Prayerfully commit the matter to God.

7.  Ask God to give you strength to move forward.



  • Think back upon your frustration and failure. What are the next steps you will take to bring about a positive change in these situations?
  • Which of these steps do you think you need to work on the most?

Remember: You will not be able to be your best today until you say good-bye to yesterday.


Biblical Case Study: John Mark (Acts 13:1-13, 15:37-39; 2 Timothy 4:11)

Acts 13 provides an account of the commissioning and sending of Paul and Barnabas to serve as traveling missionaries. Verse 5 explains that John Mark traveled with them as their assistant. After ministering as a team in a couple of cities, John Mark abandoned the group. He returned to his home in Jerusalem. The Bible does not explain why he left. Bible scholars have offered many possible rea­sons for his departure – he was nervous about his safety, he was disgruntled that Paul had replaced his cousin Barnabas as the top leader, or maybe he resented the preaching of the Gospel to non-Jews. Whatever the reason, he quit. His abandonment of the mission later caused a major division between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:37-39). It is clear that Paul considered John Mark a failure.

What happened to John Mark after he left Paul? The Bible gives us few details, but 2 Timothy 4:11 happily suggests that John Mark’s failure was not final. He failed on the journey with Paul, but he did not become a failure. It is obvious that Paul noticed that John Mark had become faithful and effective in the Lord’s work because he told Timothy to ask John Mark to rejoin the team. John Mark failed forward.

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