ACCOUNTABILTY—A KEY TO SUCCESS

Last night Pastor Greenbean met with his accountability partners at a local burger joint.  I have two men who partner with me in this and we meet somewhat regularly.  Now, I can’t tell you what we talk about because that is confidential—confidentiality is necessary for honest dialogue among people—but I can share with you the basic aspects of accountability that make it necessary for me, and I believe for everyone who takes following Christ seriously.

  • Spiritual growth check-up:  The most baseline that an accountability partner or group does is provide a check-up for spiritual growth.  I am asked questions like, “What are you reading in the Bible?” and “Who are you praying for?”  For my group the questions are a little more pointed and the men ask me questions like, “What in your life has changed because you’ve read he Bible?”  I know that it sounds so simple but just having people I know and trust ask me these questions keeps me honest and helps keep me spiritually vibrant.
  • Speak truth into your life:  To my knowledge there is no living human being who is perfect.  Christ already broke the mold on that one.  Everyone knows that, but we all live our lives as if we were perfect—at least we don’t want anyone to tell us where we err or what our shortcomings are.  But in accountability people are given permission to speak truth into our lives—those things we need to hear and face up to in order to become better Christ-followers.  I know that my accountability partners love me and my defensive shielding comes off so that I can hear the truth they speak.
  • Someone to confess to:  The Bible speaks often of confession, and preachers talk about it a lot too.  A passage that has always bothered me is James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.”  I’m okay with confessing to God, but it is the one another part that troubles me.  I’m just Baptist enough to generally believe my sins are no one else’s business.  But I need to confess to others; I know it.  In my accountability group I am able to confess my sins without fear of judgment.  It is nice how much healing emerges from that simple, obedient act.

Perhaps the most important thing about my accountability group is that we pray for each other.  Over time I’ve found that I am emotionally invested in their spiritual needs and I pray for them not because of a list but because my heart is aligned with theirs.  I believe they pray for me in the same way.  There is also the benefit of availability.  If ever I struggle; I know I can call one of these men, or they me; and we would help each other.  That is the beauty of accountability.

 

A LENTEN PRAYER

Dear Lord, I think we are about half-way through Lent.  It certainly feels like this year Lent will never end.  I can’t wait for Easter.  Part of my anticipation of Easter is because I love celebrating the Resurrection.  But, if I may be honest for a moment, a big part of it is that Lent so far has been very trying.

In what way?  Well, let’s start with my fasting this year.  (By the way, why is it called a fast when it goes so slowly?  I’ve heard that question asked before, but I’ve never discovered a good answer.)    Without going into specifics, this year the fasting seems much more difficult than in times past.  I hope this does not mean I’ve gotten too “at home” in the world.  If so, then help me to correct it.  Part of me thinks that it is just because I’m older and those fleshly habits are harder to purge.  I’ve always read that it is young people who have more spiritual fervor.  After all, all the great awakenings started out with young people praying in odd places like haystacks.  I’m beginning to think that the older I get, the less dedicated I may be.  Please reverse this in me.  I want my faith to always be fresh and young.

Then there are the Bible readings that I’ve been in.  In my personal life I’m reading the Psalms—and wouldn’t you know I’m in the 40’s and 50’s.  To me these are the hardest of all the psalms to work through because they are so temperamental.  As I’m reading the Proverbs it feels like my own biography—Tales of a Foolish Sluggard.  But mostly I’m thinking about the book of John.  Jesus—I know that John is Scripture and all, but does it have to be so nosey and intrusive into my personal life?  Why is that in this Fourth Gospel you deal so much with one-on-one interaction.  And why does poor old religiously befuddled Nicodemus remind me so much of me.

Most of all it seems like my mood is sour.  Wednesday I was very frustrated, and I can’t quite put my finger on why.  Are you trying to tell me something about dependence upon you and waiting for your timing?  Is there some secret code about patience you’re teaching me?  If so, please hurry up with it.

I realize that what I need to do is confess that sin of frustration—but as we are in Lent and all, Lord, I’ve been spending a lot of time confessing.  Is it just that I’m noticing it more, or is my mouth getting out of control lately?  I hear things coming out of from between my lips which I know shouldn’t be, but I can’t seem to stop it.  Please help only sweet water come from flapping tongue.

Perhaps by the end of Lent—maybe by Palm Sunday or perhaps Good Friday, I will have gotten a better grasp of my wanton worldliness.  I at least hope to be further along in my process of being conformed to your image.  But I know that I will be forever in need of grace and forgiveness.  Maybe that is why Lent means so much to me.  It is during this time when you heighten my awareness of you, my longing for intimacy in the fellowship of your suffering, and the spiritual poverty that is only elevated by your Holy Spirit.

But just between you and me Lord, I can’t wait for Easter.  Amen.