As a church planter, husband, father and all around manly man. I feel the need to confess that I have a love-hate relationship with accountability. I find my self 58 years into life, 38 years into a marriage, 36 years as a father, six years into our planting/revitalization journey, and I have been a manly man ever since the first time I got my butt kicked on the vacant lot near my house as a child. I have learned some essential things about accountability in my venture through life that I would like to share with you. I believe my life lessons apply to everyone’s lives, so I wanted to take some time and share some of these hard-learned truths with you.
I have been working consistently since 1973. I had to learn accountability early on by working for people much older than my self. My father always told me that if I were going to do something, I should do it right the first time. This sage advise was lost on me early in my work ethic. I was much more focused on the payoff and many times the intricate details of quality work fell to the wayside. As a 12-year-old entrepreneur, I agreed to wash the windows inside and out at Palmore’s Market in Clarksville Tennessee. The manager agreed to my price, and I quickly went to work realizing that I did not have enough window cleaner for the job. No problem, I went to the cleaning aisle, picked up a bottle of Windex and took it to the cashier. After paying for the cleaner, I returned to my job cleaning the long-neglected and very dirty windows of the old store. Upon completion, the manager held me accountable. He very quickly pointed out my less than stellar effort and suggested that I clean the windows again. My problem now was that I needed more cleaning supplies, so after buying more window cleaner, some paper towels, and a squeegee for adequately doing the job, it wound up costing me a little over four dollars. Accountability hurts the wallet.
I remember that before our Church Plant launched and in the first couple of years of our ministry at the Point, I would pray “Lord, send me people.” Now after leading this ministry for going on six years, my prayers have changed. I now pray “Lord, send me normal people who are grounded in their relationship with Jesus to help me reach those far from God.” I made mistakes early on in our ministry. I tolerated much more than I should have because I did not want to lose anyone or any momentum along the way. In the early days, I felt that everyone was critical and we needed the appearance of something going on. After some painful experiences, I have learned to wait on God. My lack of faith in the power and truth of the word of God caused me to be much more liberal in my theology and reticent to hold people accountable. Please do not misunderstand, I know the difference between right and wrong, I also understand the power of the gospel, but I wanted to reach people far from God so badly, that I overlooked things that I should have confronted. When an organic church plant merges with a dying legacy fellowship and then enters into a revitalization, I now know that this requires a healthy base to be able to grow appropriately. Now I know that if I had just leaned in a little harder on accountability in the early stages of our ministry, I could have prevented some of the unfortunate situations that happened and caused hurt and frustration. Accountability is a good thing when exercised in love.
I have learned that not everyone who visits our fellowship will stay with us. I find that people come for many different reasons. I now believe that accountability is one of the reasons people come back to church. Iron indeed sharpens iron! Many will come and be involved because they need help guiding their lives back on track. These people understand how life plays out when there is no accountability. Accountability is a check and balance for everyone, and it keeps us real and grounded. Most people want order and realize that a relationship with Jesus brings direction.
I have found that not everyone who comes and visits our organization needs to stay apart. When people come with an agenda that is counterintuitive to the mission and vision of the gathering, they most likely will not stay with you when they realize that mission drift is not going to occur. When people leave, it is always a little uncomfortable. You have to embrace the awkwardness and recognize that God is in control and He already knows who needs to be active and on board. After all, it is His church.
So be careful not to miss opportunities to help people in their relationship with Jesus. I have had to learn again and again over these six years that the Holy Spirit is excellent at being the Holy Spirit. As the man of God, I have to remind people what the Bible says about the circumstances and situations in their lives. When the Bible is silent on certain conditions, we must pray for clarity and leave the conviction and direction to the Holy Spirit. I have to live my life above reproach and avoid any appearance of wrongdoing. I have to let people see Christ in me. So do not be afraid to hold someone accountable. The Bible teaches that we are always to be ready to give an account for the hope that we have in Christ Jesus. We have to do this with gentleness and respect.
I love you all!