Confession by Dennis Del Valle

James 5:16
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

One evening my 7-year-old son, Elisha, and I were talking and he started asking questions, as a 7-year-old does. He asked about money and how I get it to pay for things. (He’s especially interested in how to get money to buy an Xbox 360.) I thought to myself, “How do I describe psychotherapy, consulting, and leadership coaching to a 7-year-old?
“Well, Elisha, people pay me to talk with them about problems they have.” He started laughing. I thought, “Why is he laughing?” Between giggles he said, “People pay you (giggle, giggle) to talk to you?”



If you’ve ever heard my son laugh, then you know that Elisha’s laughter is contagious. I found myself laughing for a long time, but it did also cause me to pause and reflect on what it is that I do and why it is helpful for others. I reflected on the power of healing that occurs when we share with another person our pains, hurts, struggles, and sins. Our natural tendency is to hide our failures, sins, and weaknesses from others. This human habit dates all the way back to creation, when we see in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve’s gut response after their sinful choices. In their reaction, we see modeled the normal path with sin even still today – I sin, I hide, and if that fails, I blame everyone around me, including God. See what Adams says? “The woman you gave me….”; note how Eve responds, “The serpent deceived me…” Like our ancestors, we are all too good at hiding and blaming others for our failures.

For me, a sin that frequently creeps into my life is harshness with my children, especially in the morning when we are behind schedule (which is basically every morning). When I fail to confess this sin to others, the sin grows like cancer. It happens subtly, quietly, but undeniably. See, I’m not only harsh in the morning when we are running late, but then in the evening when chores aren’t happening as fast as I think they should. The harshness spills out everywhere – I’m thinking and saying harsh things to the drivers on the road, to the people in front of me at Starbucks who can’t figure out what they want, to a co-worker who wants to talk when I’m trying to accomplish something. A false belief takes root in my heart: I’m good, they are bad, they are the problem.

When I finally confess my sin to another, things begin to change. As I confess, the truth surfaces and changes me: I’m not all good, others aren’t all bad, we are all human. Confession connects me to my humanity and my need for God and others. Confession frees me and it also paves the way for others to join me in the process. Then we can all reiterate the truth: I have a problem; I can’t solve it on my own. I need you and I need God.

Confession is intimate; it connects me to others as they see the good, the bad, and the ugly in me.

On the flip side, when I fail to confess it not only destroys me but it infects my community. I send out destructive unspoken messages: “I’m okay and you should be fine, too. You can’t have marital problems, difficulties parenting, or struggle with addiction here. All that messy sin and brokenness doesn’t belong in our community, our church: take that junk somewhere else! This place is for people who have it all together.”

The gospel gets subverted and churches look more like country clubs then communities of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:18). When I fail to practice confession, it fertilizes the ground for scandals in the church, especially for our leaders. People feel the pressure to hide, to deceive. However, when I confess my sins, I unleash the power of God in my life and the life of my community. I send out a powerfully healing message to my community: “I’m not okay and you don’t have to be okay either. Being a sinner doesn’t disqualify you from our community, from this church, from my friendship.” Through confession we see how much we are alike; we are all broken and struggling with life. Confession promotes living in the truth, for you and for those to whom you confess. If you don’t have those people in your life now, find them. Open yourself up and let others in your life, for the sake of your soul and theirs.

My favorite thing about the Ultimate Leadership Conference is getting to watch this unfold in groups. People enter the week heavy laden and through the process of confession, burdens are lifted. Group members look visibly different after receiving grace for that which they felt so much shame and pain over.

And like Elisha’s laughter, the freedom and unity that comes with confession is contagious. Practice it and you’ll see just what I mean.

For more information about Dennis Del Valle


  1. Corina on March 22, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Today,vai totally needed to hear this.. recently joined Al-Anon, my sickness was self righteousness in order to hide from my own crazy sin.?
    Thank you sweetie ?

  2. Bob Bonner on March 22, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    Good words, Dennis. I was at the leadership conference with you this past February. Our group sessions were FANTASTIC and the group has hung together with calls of encouragement and accountability. On behalf of the Red Team, I thank you for using your gifts so faithfully. And tell Elisha, “Don’t laugh too hard; that Xbox360 might come sooner! Your Dad is worth every penny he is paid and much more!”

  3. patsy on March 22, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    Thank you . . . God bless you with love. ?????

  4. Janet Jaworski on March 22, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this. I left a church b/c the pastors (a couple) always looked spotless. Not a hair out of place and it seemed to me most people going to that church were more concerned about getting the attention, recognition from these pastors then pleasing God?!?
    I began to feel like I was losing who I was and just couldn’t take it anymore.
    I loved serving on a team there, but then that became a struggle.
    I think it was the unhealthy dynamics of that type of church that wore on me and lack of authenticity.

    I have issues. Who doesn’t. But I have learned Father God doesn’t have a problem with that like some people
    seem to.
    If we were so-called perfect we wouldn’t need JESUS right?

    • Elizabeth Dewees on March 24, 2018 at 5:33 am

      I try to stand on the knowledge of who I am in Christ. His child. I am accepted. I am loved. And I am secure.This is my foundation in which I can begin my day. Now that doesn’t mean I don’t “mess up!” Of course I do. But getting back into the knowledge of who I am, confessing and asking forgiveness is a must. Giving all to Him. As far as others; I can’t change anyone but I can be an example. And if I can except people for who they are and not judge them… well, that’s God’s domain.
      I know who I am and it is wonderful .

  5. Mignon on March 23, 2018 at 6:48 am

    Tell Elisha that I said, ”Your daddy’s work is no joke.” I had the pleasure talking to you a few years and the process you took our small group was life changing. I connected with a group of men and women in such a powerful way that we meet once a year to catch up and continue bearing our hearts one to another. Confession is true vulnerability that leads to intimacy. Thanks for opening that door and guiding us through.

  6. Bente' Lise on March 23, 2018 at 7:54 am

    There is something very powerful about “connection” with other safe caring people and being able to sit with another human in their pain and suffering that creates space for healing. I think “confessing” our pain and suffering is a learning process because sometimes it can be very difficult to sit with another in their pain and it causes all kinds of reactions and emotions in us.

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  8. DMC5 on May 14, 2019 at 3:06 pm

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