Posts Tagged ‘accountability’

Not long ago, I overheard a person talking about their church. I have to admit I was taken aback. As this person spoke, they related how no one preaches at the church and there are times where they just sit in silence for a whole service. “No one tells us what to do or what to believe.” They seemed to think this was Panacea, almost paradise. The faith is a fairly old tradition, but I have to tell you the truth… I don’t get it.

See I know my own tendency to go my own way. “There’s a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death.” That’s what Scripture says, and I’m pretty sure I have demonstrated it in my own life. Left to my own devices, even after all these years as a Christian, it’s still pretty easy for me to talk myself into doing what I want to do and putting God’s seal of approval on it. Thankfully I have a few things that help me to stay on the right path.

First I have God’s Word. I have the Bible, I can look at it, read it, study it and take it to heart. I read the Word and the Holy Spirit convicts me to stay on the right path.

Next I have the church. When I come together with other believers around the Word of God, I receive the blessing of conviction and accountability. If I am honest enough to be open about what I am thinking, someone will take me to task and take me back to the Word of God and show me the error of my ways.

Finally I have a pastor. He comes and preaches the Word of God to me. He studies the Word. He prays and He brings messages that are often exactly what I need to hear. Not always what I want to hear, but what I need to hear. He declares the Word of God. He does tell me what to believe and sometimes even what to do, based not on his whim but on what the Word of God says. His messages sometimes step on my toes. That is a blessing, called conviction that God gives us to turn us around before we make things much worse. No one telling us what to do or what to believe may sound like a wonderful thing… but it isn’t. In the grand scheme of things, if the Scriptures are true, and by the way, THEY ARE, then someone who doesn’t tell you what to do or what to believe is showing you they don’t care about you at all.

I think it is far better for someone to go to the Word, seek the Lord and preach it, speaking the truth in love and saying…

Thus sayeth the Lord…

From there the choice is mine, but at least I’ve heard the truth. What I do with that is up to me.

Accountability… What it is and why you need it. Read this article I just wrote for for more information.

You may have heard this before but it bears repeating especially in regards to our journey as Christian creatives. There are three people every believer needs. These are patterned after relationships we see in the New Testament, specifically in the epistles of Paul.

paulEvery Christian needs a Paul
This would be your MENTOR, a person who is at least a few steds ahead of you on the journey. This is a person who sows wisdom into your life–a person who knows where the pitfalls are and can help you avoid them. If you read the epistles, you see Paul doing just this for Timothy, Titus and more. It’s a person who can help you through the struggles and to see the light. For creatives, this person can show you something you haven’t tried before, how to get through the times of rejection, help you to find the right venue and gently guide you to becoming a better creative, a better believer and a better person.

barnabusEvery Christian needs a Barnabus
This would be your ACCOUNTABILITY. This person is usually a peer, someone about the same place on the journey as you are. They walk by your side. They love and respect you, but they are not so enamored with you that they can’t call you on your garbage. They can speak truth into your life in a way that you need, even if that truth is a harsh truth spoken in love. For creatives this person helps you stay grounded and humble. Keeps you from believing your press reports AND the negative thoughts that plague most creatives. This person will also cheer you on, lift you up and help you to get better. Incidentally in a world where words mean things, the name Barnabus literally means “son of encouragement.” In Scripture, we see Barnabus provide that for Paul. Who provides it for you?

timothyEvery Christian needs a Timothy
This would be your INVESTMENT in others and in God’s Kingdom. This person is a few steps behind you on the journey and your job is to help them navigate the minefield of life. You invest in them and sow into them just like your Paul invests in you. You help them to see new possibilities and to learn and grow. For creatives, you help them to find the new techniques and solutions. You help them to develop their gifts and to use them humbly. You keep reminding them that the purpose in all of this is to glorify God. You can be their support system and their sounding board. God gave us two entire books of the Bible (1 and 2 Timothy) where we see Paul brilliantly living these principals out. Who can you come along side to guide?

In the grand scheme of things, you will have many of each of these people in your life, but you need at least one of each. Really importantly, this is not to check off some spiritual rule sheet, these are people with whom you must have a real and vital relationship. God does not give us these examples in vain. He set them up and modeled them in Scripture because these relationships are highly beneficial. You need these three people…

and they need YOU!

Harry Truman had a plaque on his desk that said “the buck stops here.” It comes from this idea that we all want to pass the blame and we usually want to pass it up the hill, because then it becomes someone else’s responsibility. It’s almost as if Truman looked up the hill and realized he was at the top. There was no one else to pass the buck too. The ultimate responsibility for making the decisions was his. That is a huge and difficult position to be in. You’re the leader and ultimately you answer to God.

Each of us as Christ followers probably have someone like this in our own lives. Someone who bears the buck. They are our church pastors, and while they ought not to be autocrats and need accountability, they bear a huge burden of responsibility on their shoulders. And that burden is probably not what you think. You see we have a very strange, very wrong image of pastors and of the church in the US (at least). We have this idea that the pastor is an employee of the church to be hired and fired at will. Understand this, if you hold this view of your pastor, you are part of the problem. Churches and Christians that expect pastors to meet all their spiritual needs, keep them comfortable and happy and take the church where they want it to go are stripping the effectiveness from the church and moving pastors toward heresy. (Don’t hold anything back, Dave tell us how you really feel!)

It’s true! The job of a church pastor is not to take the church where they want to go, neither is it about keeping the church happy. The job of the pastor of a church is not a job at all. It’s a calling. Pastors are not employed by churches, they are called by God to lead churches where God wants them to go. Pastors are given a vision from God to lead a body of believers to follow the Lord and do the work God has for his body in the region where they have been placed. It’s all about pleasing God and not at all about pleasing man, cause let’s face it, some of the stuff that pleases us is far from what pleases God. A pastor’s responsibility is to build the body of Christ into the image of Christ. What we want has very little to do with it, at least until we begin to have the mind of Christ.

Why do I write this on a blog dealing mainly with creative Christians? Because we are part of that body and if you are not part of a local body of believers, you need to be. We need to come along side of our pastors and help them to further their God-given vision. We need to use our gifts in such a way that they enhance that vision and we dare not impose our vision on the pastor and expect him to bend to it. Sometimes this might even mean laying down our brushes and pens and humbly serving and laboring in ways that may not have anything to do with our gifts. If you find yourself being asked to do something that you feel might be below your pay grade, re-read John 13. In it Jesus takes off his outer robe and washes His disciples feet. This was traditionally the job of the lowest slave in the house. Jesus, the ultimate artist, the creator of the universe, the king of kings and the Lord of Lords washed the dirt and dung off feet He created. He did it as an example for us to follow and said we would be blessed if we did likewise.

A lot of us complain that the church has no use for our gifts. We complain and sometimes we leave, but maybe what we need to do instead is take off our robes and get out hands dirty. Show we are willing to serve, show we can come under authority, show we can be trusted and show we are onboard with the vision. Maybe it’s time we helped our pastors bear the buck. Humble service might even open doors to your gifts and and and eyes to see how they can be used. Remember it’s all about God’s glory and His vision.