“God is full of grace, compassion, and mercy… I want my story to be about the joy and contentment that humbling yourself, waiving your rights, and submitting to Christ truly bring.”
“You know that sinking feeling you get when you wake up hung over in a room with someone you don’t know? The emptiness of living solely for myself was the worst feeling ever,” said Brian Stevens. “Nothing I pursued – success, alcohol, and women – ever satisfied. I was constantly disappointed with myself.
“I grew up, one of eight kids, in a two bedroom, one bathroom house in Fort Worth. I bore the brunt of the physical abuse that was part of our home. I said the sinner’s prayer when I was about eight years old, but I found the charismatic movement my family was part of very confusing. It seemed to be all about emotions.
“I was a good athlete, and my success in football became part of my identity. After a game, I’d go out with friends and party. By the time I was a senior, I had a falling out with my father, and we have not spoken since. The result of that fractured relationship was that I didn’t trust others or myself. The deep wound from that experience follows me to this day.
“I focused on sports and avoided alcohol when I went to Texas A&M Commerce to play football. But when I was red shirted and didn’t have any playing time, I started partying again. I lost my scholarship and transferred to Texas State University. Without sports, I turned to women, alcohol, and drugs.
“After graduation, I was determined to pull myself up by my bootstraps. I got a job at a recruiting company, and my lifestyle of alcohol and partying continued. Fortunately, I was placed on a team with a guy who was my same age; yet, he was an old soul. We hit it off, and he invited me to Summit Men’s Bible Study at Watermark. Sometimes I’d show up hungover from the night before, but I kept going to Summit. I invited several old friends of mine to join me as well, but at this point, I was a fan of Jesus, not a follower.
“Our small group leader, Michael Santiago, was involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an organization I could really relate to. Michael met with me often to talk about God’s Word, and he discipled me as I continued to be half-in and half-out of life in Christ.
“I started dating Sarah (now my wife) around that time. We attended Watermark together, and her dad even joined Summit with me. When we went through Merge, Watermark’s premarriage ministry, our friends and several Watermark staff members were there to encourage us. We were spiritually immature, and God used them to show us love and compassion.
“We also experienced tremendous spiritual growth in our Foundation Group, a community group for couples married three years or less. Our leaders, Ryan and Kris Howell, demonstrated how to live in community with other believers and manage conflict in a God-honoring way. I learned to draw a circle around myself and allow Christ to change the person inside it. It was a gift to be discipled alongside other men who were committed to Christ.
“We availed ourselves to so many ministries at Watermark – a good thing, because Sarah and I were all over the place as I started my business and we started a family. I went through re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry, and looked at my sin patterns, wounds from the past, and my prideful and controlling tendencies. Because I wasn’t able to trust other people, I didn’t fully trust God and believe that His plan was best. God used re:gen to help me understand that I didn’t need to be successful, well-liked, or the savior of my family to be loved by Him. I am an adopted son in His Kingdom, loved and forgiven by the Lord while I was still a
sinner. (Romans 5:8)
“Since then God has changed so much about my life. My siblings noticed the transformation, and two of them now go to Watermark Fort Worth. I also serve on the board of FCA, and enjoy sharing the gospel with student athletes. I can tell them from experience that the god of athletics and performance will never fill the void that only Christ can fill.
“When the opportunity to be part of the Frisco Campus came along, I looked at it as a chance to engage people in our city. We have neighbors from around the world in our area, and we wanted to open our home and let others know about Christ. Parenting has been our biggest opportunity to engage with our neighbors about the gospel and how it informs our approach to shepherding our kids.
“If I were talking to a guy with a story similar to mine, I’d want him to know that God is full of grace, compassion, and mercy. He is the only thing that has ever brought me true fulfillment. I want my story to be about the joy and contentment that humbling yourself, waiving your rights, and submitting to Christ truly bring. Apart from Jesus, we are all lost.”