“I think I thrive under a lack of accountability.” ~Michael Scott, The Office
Welcome to Accountability 101.
Truth is a very valuable commodity. I think it’s safe to say it’s the most valuable commodity. That and love. And time. And hummus.
Okay, maybe not hummus but that’s why I need accountability. I need people to tell me when I’m off track. I need encouragers who speak the truth so I won’t end up in a proverbial bubble of thoughts and philosophies. “Yes” men, or women for you feminists out there, are great at stroking the old ego but they are lousy accountability partners. I would daresay that those who tell you what you want to hear aren’t very loving either.
“The wounds of a friend are faithful, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” ~Proverbs 27:6
But why? Why would the truth hurt us?
There’s really no way around it so I’ll just say it outright: the truth hits our pride.
When we surround ourselves only with people who agree with us, who praise us no matter what we do, who only tell us what we want to hear, we feel good about ourselves. Yeah, I’m a pretty wise person. Look how many people agree with me! I’m a visionary. A leader. I’m right and all those who disagree with me are wrong. After all, so many of my friends have told me I’m right, it must be true.
Maybe not. When we surround ourselves with ‘yes’ people, we are operating on a feelings-based system, and man, those feelings are tricky business. Our emotions were damaged in the Fall. They dip and dive and swing with alarming frequency.
When I wake up in the morning, I groan. I’m so tired. This day is going to stink. Then I spy liquid caffeine percolating in the coffee maker and my pendulum swings to the right. I can handle anything as long as I have my coffee. I find out I’m up for a raise at work. Pendulum to the right. Then I learn a coworker got it instead of me. Swing to the left. I stop at the mall on the way home and buy myself a new outfit to soothe my tattered pride. Swing to the right. I come home and see my three-year old has stuffed a superhero action figure in the toilet again. Swing to the left.
We cannot trust our feelings, much less the feelings of others. We need truth, a solid foundation to build our lives, decisions and future upon.
This is why church attendance is so important. Why choosing godly friends is so important. (“Bad company corrupts good character” and all that jazz.) Many people say they want to surround themselves with friends who will challenge their thinking. They quote the Biblical proverb “Iron sharpens iron”, but then they build a community that wields nerf swords. Their advice is comforting, like a fuzzy warm blanket. They never face dissent or are probed to look at things from a different angle.
Nerf swords don’t sharpen very well.
Accountability is important. If this statement causes you to stiffen, remember that we all answer to someone. Children to parents. Employees to their boss. Privates to generals. And all of us to God.
Only narcissists refuse to hear someone’s opinion but their own. They can’t handle personal responsibility. Everything is somebody else’s fault. They deny or “forget” the things they have done or said. They don’t own anything because they are unable to look inside and accept that they might not be perfect. Accountability makes us confront our mistakes and learn from them in the process.
Truth is ultimately what sets all of us free. Living in a land without accountability destroys relationships and breeds chaos. Those who embrace the culture of nerf swords will eventually be cut. Too bad they didn’t have a trustier weapon.
The person you’ll be in ten years is determined by the books you read and the people you surround yourself with today. Choose wisely.
My friends have often told me that hummus is not universally loved. I’m okay with that. Who wants to live in a bubble?
Not me, because eventually that tiny prison is going to pop.