Craig Groeschel on How to Detox Your Soul

Is your lifestyle dangerous to your spiritual health?


Craig is the founder and senior pastor of, the second largest church in the United States and the creator of the YouVersion Bible App. This essay is an adaptation from Craig’s new book, Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World.

When I was growing up, it seemed like all grown-ups smoked, all the moms continually twirling Virginia Slims between their fingers while our dads talked with a Marlboro or Camel dangling from the corner of their mouths. My own mom and dad, although wonderful parents in too many ways to count, fit right in with their peers and smoked at least two packs a day. 

Being raised in a house filled with smoke, I never noticed it. A non-smoking guest would have instantly identified it and likely complained, but my family thought nothing of it. Most of us probably have a smell we associate with growing up—our mom’s pine cleaner or dad’s Old Spice—but for me the smell was cigarette smoke.


I didn’t realize how unhealthy my home was until I got outside it enough to breathe freely and experience the difference. In fact, after living in a smoke-free environment for the first time ever in my college dorm, when I returned home, I was shocked.

The walls, which I remembered as a crisp white, held a dull, yellowish tint. A pale gray film coated the air. Even when no one had a cigarette lit, an unmistakable haze filled the room and enveloped us all. And as soon as I walked in the door after being away at college, the odor slapped me in the face. Instead of the comfortable and familiar smell of “my home,” my old dwelling place smelled like a stale ashtray.

About the time I started college, the American Medical Association came out with its findings on the dangers of second-hand smoke, especially for children. For the first eighteen years of my life, I lived in a cloud of second-hand smoke, oblivious to how it was coating my skin, my lungs, my throat. Not only did I smell like a chimney, but I unknowingly inhaled poison on a daily basis. I didn’t blame my parents; they didn’t know that second-hand smoke is practically as dangerous as inhaling it firsthand. But their ignorance didn’t change the reality of the situation.

I’m convinced that many of us are living in this same kind of dangerous trap with our spiritual health. Just like I lived unaware of the smoke in my home, many people today aren’t fully aware of the forces stunting their spiritual growth.

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Craig Groeschel
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