Wednesday, June 1, 2011

To be or not to be .... "accountable" that is

This question, I am finding, is a "thorny" issue for some (perhaps many?), typically due to previously abusive situations, an innate sense of fear or insecurity or perhaps just indifference. Maybe it's as much a reflection of our culture and how we tend to view our significant relationships, not to mention ourselves. In the last few weeks this issue has come up with me twice. The first time in the words, "I don't want to be accountable to anyone" and then the second time someone looking for someone to help in their growth by holding them accountable.

So who's right and who's wrong? I would say neither, knowing something of the situation of both these people. We should never "put" accountability on anyone, in the sense of demanding or expecting. Accountability should only be invited by the person themselves, when they are ready. I would also personally add, that love without accountability is not really love, in the sense of being fully yielded to one another. I think that this is what the Spirit wants to produce within us with a few people within our 'community' and especially with our spouse (Eph 5:18b-22). It is a relational skill that by definition, ought best to be mutual, 2-way within the Christian community and not top-down, hierarchical.

Accountability requires honesty, and it helps to make us more dependable and trustworthy. It does not imply the need to be perfect but rather, it vital due to the fact that none of us is perfect. In that sense it is best practiced within an environment of unconditional acceptance ... another important characteristic of the Christian community (Rom 15:7). For those of us who see the Christian life as a journey, a journey of ongoing growth and transformation into greater Christ-likeness, then having some such relationships of mutual accountability is really crucial and, I would suggest, biblical (see James 5:15-16) because of the difference our prayers for one another can make. It is God who grows and transforms us (2 Cor 3:17-18), but he often does so within the context of loving community.

Here's some of the things I've been learning about myself that can be a hindrance to fostering healthy accountability, maybe they will help you in your own growth;
  1. Am I a giving person? Do I look for opportunities to express care, meet needs or celebrate with people in my life?
  2. Do I take the time to show appreciation towards people for the things they do, whether I'm a beneficiary or not? Just noticing things and expressing gratitude meets a significant need that all of us share.
  3. Am I growing in my own relational courage both in personal confession and also lovingly confronting others with the truth so as to be able to strengthen that relationship? This one is harder (and avoided by most) and requires sensitivity and care. But is probably the most vital when it comes to our mutual growth (Eph 4:15)
Deep down I personally long for more of this in my life but it's risky business. Such is love.

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