“Oh, Dad . . .Dad, he said with equal parts love and horror. Pointing at his father’s shocking blue pants, he went on: “It looks like you’re an aging youth pastor trying to look young.”
Truth hurts. But telling the painful truth about a garish pair of pants isn’t nearly as vital as the genuine accountability that seems so scarce today. We’re not lacking for confrontation. (Social media, anyone?) What we’re missing is helpful accountability, delivered in appropriate, loving doses and free of contempt.
When Paul wanted to build up a local church he’d started, he wrote a letter that author and pastor Ray Stedman calls “delightfully personal.” Paul said, “We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people” (1 Thessalonians 1:4). Then he acknowledged their persecution and identified with it because he himself was suffering, stating, “God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition” (2:2). Paul wasn’t about to lord it over them or criticize their performance. Rather, he came alongside them because he was one of them. And so he gave them instructions as one of their brothers-in-arms, saying, “We loved you so much that we shared with you” (v.8).
Genuine accountability doesn’t mean nitpicking about a friend’s fashion choices (though it may mean making a gentle suggestion at the right time). Instead, real accountability motivates us to identify with our brothers and sisters. Together we help each other grow into the men and women God created us to be.
About those blinding blue pants: I gave them to charity. Some 17-year-old somewhere ought to be able to rock those pretty well.
365-day plan: Acts 27:27-44