Accountability has and most likely forever will be a buzzword in evangelical circles. Especially when speaking in terms of men's ministry. I’ve spoken at a blue million men’s ministry events in the past 20 years, and 85% of the time somewhere, somehow, I hear accountability, and the need for it, mentioned when the emcee or event leaders are addressing the crowd before I speak.
Accountability is like going to the dentist. You desperately need it, but you dread it. You know your health depends upon it, but it feels like getting your teeth cleaned: it can wait if it has to.
There’s a pathogen that has slowly, quietly crept its way into churches in the last 10 years. I genuinely believe it comes from pop culture’s obsession with politically correct thinking and tolerance. Over time, more and more Christians have become comfortable and accustomed to being immersed in an American culture that constantly screams the “don’t judge” mentality with every opportunity.
I cannot tell you how many times in the last 10 years I’ve heard Christians say, “I don’t want to judge him.” My response is normally along the lines of, “If what you’re saying about his life is true, what makes you think you’re being judgmental by caring enough to confront him?”
While I do not have the time to dissect the heresy found in how Christian’s define judgment, I pray that all of us, myself certainly included, never, ever forget this simple fact: you are not being judged when you are told you are in the wrong.
To say it another way: I’m not judging you by telling you the truth.
Accountability is not only necessary, I would drill down even further and say that a man’s spiritual life and health actually depend on accountability – as in whether or not he has conduits of accountability running into his lifestyle at large.
If you are in the body of Christ, if you are a Jesus follower and you run with other Jesus followers, if you are in leadership on any level in your church, in fact, if you are a redeemed follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are, my brother, called to accountability. You are called to receive it, and you are called to be the carrier of it to all of those in your sphere of influence who bear the name of Christ.
Accountability in men’s ministry circles is mission critical and here’s why:
Men Draw Strength From Strength.
It’s no secret. It is far easier to climb a mountain, finish a race, or follow through on a job, when you have others in the journey with you. That was the secret to Bob Wilson “Bob W.” and Dr. Bill Smith “Bill S.” when they founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935. Bob Wilson, when struggling to stay sober, had the revelation that if he only had another alcoholic to partner with, the fight surely had to be easier to win. So, he sought out Bill Smith, a man he knew who was fighting the same war that he was facing. Together they formed a brotherhood, and beat the addiction.
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work.” Ecclesiastes 4:9
Accountability Is Love. Real. Honest To God. Love.
If you care about your brother, then you must care enough to confront him when you see him in danger. In fact, let me ask it this way, “Just how much do you have to hate someone that you’d dismiss any thought of helping them when their life is in danger?”
Yes, there’s times when you have to part ways with someone who is bent on living a lifestyle of sin and lacks the desire to repent. That’s an entirely differently ballgame.
No, what we are talking about here is the power that comes from love that is lived out among men who are Jesus followers.
It’s all about motive, my brother. What’s your motive? When you feel that someone needs to be held accountable, just ask yourself, “Is my motive to call them out and prove them wrong, or to restore them?”
God has never, ever given you a license to be the Holy Spirit - you know, that guy who goes around trying to convict the soul and conscience of those who are struggling.
Let me tell you what I see. What I see is that we’ve gone so far the other way that we no longer are willing to confront anyone. To make matters worse, we do it in the name of grace. “Well, I have sin in my life, too” is the response I have heard more times than I care to recall.
THAT’S NOT THE POINT.
Don’t you think that God would have blatantly told us completely and clearly to leave all accountability to Him and Him alone if that were the case? However, He’s given us many examples in Scripture that show us that brothers who love one another care enough to walk closely and keep one another in check.
You have no control over how people handle it when you care enough to confront. How they receive you is between them and God. What matters is that you do the righteous thing, and that righteous thing is that you love them enough to help them stay on the path.
Accountability Is Elementary Christianity.
That’s right, if you were to jump in the Delorean to travel back and approach a first century Christian to talk about the need for accountability among your men’s group, be ready to get a strange, strange look. I can hear Paul’s response resembling, “Wait. You’re saying to me that your men operate on such a casual level that accountability seems like a big step of faith and discipleship?”
Fellas, the cold hard truth is that so much of what today’s evangelicals deem as radical faith was once seen as only the basics of faith.
Fasting. Righteousness. Confronting governments. Theologically outspoken. Tithing. Church discipline. All of those traits were Christianity 101 in the First Century Church.
While those faith basics may be dimmed, they are not dead. We can recapture them with a simple desire to do so. You, and your small group of men, can simply decide that they want to be spiritually alive instead of living as men committed to lives that are spiritually comatose.
For The Record.
I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again. If you see me wandering. If you see me moving off the path that leads to life in Christ. If you see that in me, you have my permission to approach me.
I don’t know how I’ll take it. I cannot promise you that I’ll be excited, or even nice in how I handle it. I can tell you that at some point in the near future after its happened, I’ll be glad, and incredibly thankful, that you cared enough about me, and my wife, and my boys, and my career, and my legacy, to help me finish the race as a winner.
This post is part of an ongoing series entitled Outdoor Ministry Strategies.