Recently at a Ransomed Heart Boot Camp our men's team was confronted with a question: “How do you men stay ‘accountable’ to one another?”
When I hear the word “accountable” I think of either business discipline or a religious legalistic attempt to control behavior and sin. I have a long history with this; I have been in church “accountability” groups for decades. Once I was in a group of six men for several years where we came together once a week to pray for an hour or so, thinking this was how we would be “accountable” to one another. We would pray for each other about whatever each one chose to throw on the table. Then at the end of the hour we would go off to work thinking we were “accountable” and really had visibility over one another. The thing we didn’t realize—and had no category for—was our posing. Each of us would hide behind our fig leafs (me included), withholding anything we really did not want to reveal to our accountability partners. We later discovered that one man in the group had been involved in an illicit affair during those years of meeting and praying together.
You see, the problem was that we approached this as sin management, thinking that if we somehow met frequently and prayed together, it would somehow make us good men and minimize our sin. We never told each other our life stories, and as a result we were pretty much strangers, even though we had a long history of being around one another.
When I came to Ransomed Heart and began to walk with this team, right away they asked me about my personal story—what was my marriage like, my childhood, my relationship with my father, mother, and siblings? And if they sensed any pose or something unusual they would ask, “What is that about, and where did that come from?” We would then stop as a team and ask God, staying with it until we heard and picked up the trail to its origin. Within a few months they knew me better—as I did them—than decades of previous relationships and so-called “accountability groups” I had taken part in. That describes our relationship with one another.
Two years ago (when we'd been together as a team for ten years) these guys did an intervention on me, with courageous love. They saw I was not taking care of my heart and was driving myself in an unhealthy way, both physically and spiritually. They told me to go take a sabbatical at a critical time of the year when my responsibilities at Ransomed Heart were at a peak. Although it was difficult, I knew they were doing it out of love because of the long miles we have traveled together. I experienced breakthrough, deliverance, and healing in the ministry of Christ with these men.
This is better than being “accountable.” It is loving one another courageously.