As a church leader drove me to the speaking venue, we were having a fantastic discussion about the health of churches – and the lack of it. In the middle of a sentence in which I was stressing the importance of healthy accountability relationships, he interrupted with a quick, “Now that’s a bad word in most churches.” Accountability. Of course, he was joking…a little. The truth is a lot of people shy away from accountability. It’s uncomfortable. We don’t want someone telling us what to do or checking in on us. Whether it’s our need for control or our insecurities, we push back or avoid accountability all together.
When I led my first small group leaders’ training in my local church years ago, one leader demanded, “No one is going to tell me what to do, so don’t even bother calling me.” when I shared the structure in place to support each other, communicate needs, acquire resources, etc. It was interesting to be in a small group with the same person not long ago and listen to him talk about the importance of accountability and communication. What a difference a few years makes.
Who am I to judge? After all, I talked about the importance of accountability in trainings, small groups, and staff meetings, but I’ve certainly grown in its application in my own life. Oh, I had no trouble advising others and holding them accountable, checking in with them regularly after identifying struggles and setting goals and boundaries. Yet I was hesitant to be fully authentic. After all, what if someone betrayed me? What if someone I really cared about judged and rejected me?
So…what if? I thought that through and decided…it would be excruciatingly painful…but not the end of the world. In fact, anytime I ask myself “what if?” over and over again, getting to the root of my hesitation or fear, I’m reminded that as long as I have a solid relationship with God, I’ll be okay. That’s my foundation. My feet are firm. And since God’s Word tells me I’m to do life with others – well, what option do I have?
Do you have support from the church? I’m not talking about the place where you worship although that might be the case. Perhaps you’ve built your closest relationship with someone who regularly attends another church. That’s the case for me. (And for many in ministry, it seems to be an excellent option because of the limits and pressures they feel in their own churches.) When I ask about support from the church, I’m referring to the Church as a whole. Break down the walls. It’s really okay to reach outside those four walls you sit within.
If you don’t have support, why not? Is it everyone else’s fault? “People around here aren’t friendly.” “No one seems to like me.” “I can’t find a place to fit in.”
We often draw a line between “us” and “them” or “me” and “everyone else.” The truth is we can’t go deeper in our relationships without deepening our relationships! Relationships require effort. If you’re not feeling supported and reached, realize the person sitting next to you may not be feeling supported and reached either. As you’re waiting for someone to support and reach out to you, someone else is waiting for you to support and reach out to her. It’s not all about you.
How much effort are you giving? If you’re reaching out to people, what’s your motivation – to serve and give sacrificially or to meet your own needs? Let me say it again: it’s not all about you. Not to mention – people will always let you down. Not ever single person, but people in general. And you’re going to let others down whether you care to admit it or not.
The only one who will meet your needs is God. To expect all your needs to be met by anyone else will lead to certain disappointment. However…God uses people to meet your needs, so if you decide to withdraw and just rely on God for everything, you’re still going to have unmet needs. If you spend much time in God’s Word, you’ll encounter many “one anothers.” We’re to be devoted to one another in love, honor one another above ourselves, live in harmony with one another, accept one another, instruct one another, encourage one another, serve one another humbly, be kind and compassionate to one another, forgive one another, admonish one another with wisdom…and the list goes on!
Philippians 2:5 says In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.
And Acts 2:44 says All the believers were together and shared everything. As I ponder “everything,” I consider my fears, anxieties, shortcomings, insecurities and struggles. Look around you. The people you’re not connecting with or waiting for them to connect with you? They have fears, anxieties, shortcomings, insecurities and struggles, too.
Share everything. Do life together. After all, it’s God’s plan.