In 1978 in Honolulu, Hawaii the Ironman event was born. This is a grueling endurance race that includes a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run. The elite who finish join the rank of those who call themselves an Ironman. If you are a follower of Jesus, you are called to join such a rank.
No, I don't mean competing in the Ironman event. I'm talking about being willing to hold those you love accountable.
Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." In a day where tolerance is preached and "live and let live" is the motto, accountability seems to be lacking from many relationships. One in the relationship has a difficult time putting boundaries in the relationship while the other finds it challenging, almost impossible, to respect such boundaries. Relationships without boundaries are destined to suffer and fail. Relationships without accountability opens the door for that relationship to become toxic.
I think the biggest reason we don't do a better job at holding those we love accountable is because we tend to associate accountability with negativity. Biblical accountability is not about lording over someone, being a "goody-two-shoes", thinking you're better than anyone else, or having a license to put others down. Biblical accountability:
- Has no selfish agenda. Holding someone accountable is making others take responsibility for their actions. In the long run, holding someone accountable may actually save their life! A friend of mine who is a police officer arrested someone one time for DUI (Driving Under the Influence). As he was handcuffing the drunk person and putting them into the backseat of his patrol car he said, "I know you don't realize this now, but I'm saving your life." My sober friend knew the drunk man was safer in the backseat of the patrol car than in the driver's seat. Holding others accountable is not driven by selfish motives.
- Seeks the other's best interest. Since accountability is not driven by selfish motives, it seeks what is best for the other person. Sure it's vulnerable to hold another accountable. They may get mad. They may reject you. They may refuse to remain your friend. That's the risk we take when we love others enough to hold them accountable.
- Speaks the truth. We have a saying in our home: say what you mean and mean what you say! There's no room for "beating around the bush." Be direct and to the point. Speak the truth in love and with respect, but speak the truth! Those you love deserve nothing less.
- Always points the other person to God and His Word. Accountability is not about imposing your opinion on someone else. Accountability is about seeing something in another person you love that could bring harm or devastation to him or her and challenging that person to allow God's Word to intersect that behavior. Not long ago I was counseling someone who was in a dilemma. She said to me, "My coworkers think I ought to do this, and my family tells me I ought to do that...what do you think Pastor?" I answered her, "It doesn't matter what I think. My opinion is not really important. What's more important is what does God think? Let's see what the Bible says..." If we really love others, we will point them past our opinions and to the truth of God's Word.
Do you want to be an Ironman? Are you willing to hold others accountable and to be held accountable? For more on this, please watch the full message.