Accountability (on purpose)

May 3, 2006 | | 19 comments

Kids are totally accountable to their parents or guardian for everything they do. When they are really young, they do not get to decide anything for themselves. As they grow older, good parents allow them to make some decisions on their own or with limited input from the parents. These parents know that the goal is to work themselves out of a job.

The kids see adults as the decision-makers. In their childish view, adults don’t answer to anyone! “You get to do anything you want.” Of course that is not entirely true for anyone, but it is an easy jump for kids to make.

We were once kids. As kids, I’d guess that most of us made that leap. We were sure that when we grew up, we wouldn’t be have to answer to anyone.

We grew up.

What kind of grown-ups did that kind of thinking produce? Most adults (at least in my experience) live their lives in such a way as to avoid voluntary accountability. By that, I mean that we are accountable only where we have to be. I hate that phrase “have to”, but it really is the “have to” mindset that drives what I am talking about. I “have to” be accountable to someone at work, but that accountability is not a voluntary thing. It is the way work works. My boss tells me what to do and I do it. It is actually quite codependent.

If we voluntarily made ourselves accountable to some others, what might that look like?

What if I had a friend I could go to and say, “I totally screwed up. I did something I am not proud of and I wanted you to know.” What if that friend offered to help me stay accountable about that thing? What if he asked me first? Totally voluntary! On purpose! Radical! Accountability! James 5:16

What if I had a friend, who I trusted to take me aside and say to me, “Jim, I see potential in you, but I see you behaving as if you were clueless. As your friend, I think you can do better.” Proverbs 27:6

What if it cut both way? If my friends and I were accountable to one another? What if I was sometimes on the receiving end and sometimes on the giving end?

I have those kinds of friendships and these are three observations I would like to make about it tonight…

  1. I don’t have to be accountable. It is a choice I freely make.
  2. It is uncomfortable. It is never fun to confess my sins to a brother. It is never fun to be challenged that I’m not living up to my potential. It is never fun to confront a brother when I feel like he is not living up to his potential. It is never fun to listen to a brother tell me how he has “screwed up.”
  3. It is rich. It is only through the vulnerability that results from a life of voluntary accountability that any of us stands a chance at reaching anywhere close to our potential. It is only through the pain of confession that we come to realize that we are not the only ones who are a mess.

Thank you, God, for good friends.

Posted in: friends, reflection

19 Responses

  1. You never cease to amaze and inspire me with your words. What you wrote is especially important for my remembering this coming week as we say goodbye to so many “good friends” down here in Kingsland. Thanks for being my Dad.

  2. Thx for your insightful words.
    What a guy!

    You are mentoring others by now, I assume?!?!
    Just a thot…

    cb

  3. Hey Nephew/Brother,
    Having known you all your life and being 10 years older than you, I can say I have learned something about unconditional love from you in the way you love your girls and your wife. You have challenged me on this very personal level. I feel mentored by what you have done as well as what you have said.
    I love you,
    Uncle/Brother

  4. When the word mentor first came to my vocabulary it instilled in me the thought of higherarchy(spelling ??)..so my first thought was “no” Jim is not really mentoring me. Jim is actually “doing life with me.. on equal ground,, walking together,, up and down the hills of life.. That’s what I like best about my friend Jim.. We walk together” He has gifts I dont have and I am inspired to see him use those gifts for the benefit of others and the glory of his maker. He tells me when he see’s my gifts come into play and encourages me also,,, So “YES” you mentor me by being who you are.

    Your Brother in Christ
    Dave

  5. I think that you have been a mentor to me over the years i’ve known you, and you also have taught me some good jokes to!

  6. We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it. – Thomas Jefferson

  7. I would have to say you are definately a mentor. You taught me the nature of forgiveness when you forgave me. You taught me no matter how horribly behaved I was, and no matter how many stupid inappropriate things I said, I was not beyond forgiveness. You mentored me in the way Christ would have were he physically here still on earth. You treated me better than I deserved. Thank you. Rey Rigney

  8. You brings tears.. Not bad tears, but tears of joy. You are so much in my heart and we both know we didn't come to realize what we meant to each other until about a month ago. You are my mentor, you probably didn't know that, but after talking to you each time whether it is on the phone or email, I am so inspired and feel so good. You will be glad to know, I joined the gym Friday. You are such a inspiration and I love you so much and I am proud to know and love you. By the way Ken if you happen to be reading these responses I love you too. I can't even imagine how much joy you bring to everyone else, because look what happened just in the last month with us. I love you so much. Love Debbie

  9. Jim.

    I think your question is, are you a mentor to me?
    Well, as witnessed again in group this morning, you certainly give me inspiration and encouragment. You have a great talent of asking the right questions and then listening to the response.

    So, yes you are mentoring me in your spoken and written word.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  10. Jim – you are my mentor. You teach me and give me hope. I have been amazed at your growth in the past year. Your blog reinforces and shows the depth and commitment of your growth. I pray and hope we can be the potential friends you protray here.

    Dan

  11. Jim,

    I see you as a mentor in your workplace. You freely share your wisdom and advice with those that ask for it (SQL comes to mind). Further, you unabtrusively let it be known that you are willing to share. I’m happy to work with you and benefit from your mentoring.

    -Will

  12. Jim, you have made such a difference to me as of late. I have been going thru so much and you have been there for me. I want to thank you and Dave for the talk that we had the other week. Also I want to thank you and the group for allowing me to express my heart in a way that showed it for it’s vournoubility. I felt so much better when I knew that even where I am at this time in my life, there are people, espically you, Dave, and Dan that can always be there with a positive word.

  13. Mentor, yes! Not long after I really was introduced to you, you took it on yourself to offer simple support in a crisis I was going through with my parent. By you being around and leading by example, it makes me want be more like that and I think I have moved more toward that role. You are very open, honest, and seem to seek to mentor or help others with a very positive attitude, a quality not everyone has! Accountable, you get high marks in my book and, you blow a mean horn!!!!

  14. I applaud you for laying it on the line and asking. You have the unique ability to sense frustration and pain in others and are then willing to take it on, no matter where it leads. You’ve been an immense help to me in my journey and I know I’m two rungs higher on the ladder because of you. I have 38 more to go so don’t plan on going anywhere…….

    Brother Bill

  15. Mentor? I was typing this long drawn out thing about the difference between a Mentor and a Shepherd. Crazy! This is simple; you are using your talents as they are intended to be used, you are Shepherding, (If only we would all use our Talents). And as a Shepherd, you dispense life into those around you. So, to answer your question, you are a Shepherd.

  16. Cool responses, huh???

    Whatta guy!

    It’s really neat to see how God is using you in the lives of others.
    Here’s an “attaboy!”

    cb

  17. Jim,

    You are a mentor, a coach, a shepherd, an influencer, a leader to me. God has given you the great gifts, the abilities to do what you do. Keep living in His power and in His plan.

    Blessin’s upon ya!

    John

  18. Jim..
    You have been what I call a true friend to me meaning that you give of yourself for the good of your friends. I have had the joy of getting to know and learn from you over the past several years. One thing that I’m amazed is that your wisdom is great and that you strive to seek Gods will in your life and those close to you. As you tred through this life you share what you are learning and take in what your friends are learning as they make their way.
    You practice what I think God wants us to do, be a support to one another, help each other when we go through trials and rejoice when on the mountain tops.
    I love you and consider myself very lucky to have you as a friend.

    Nicky

  19. Jim, you have been a mentor to me. I really enjoyed getting to know you more when you would come up and stay with Joelle and I while you were visiting Gran. I remembered she said something to us that it was important to her for us to spend time with each other. I took to heart the late-night conversations we had about life. I think the thing that stands out to me the most is your love for and dedication to your family. If I can come even 50% close to that, I think I will have done an okay job. You now know that those conversations were an encouragement to me. Marshall wants me to tell you that you mentored him by telling him jokes and teaching him funny hand tricks!

    Love ya man,

    Chad

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