It’s not a 4-letter word, but to many, “accountability” is still a dirty word. When I was younger, I think I worried that accountability showed some sort of weakness in my person or character. As I aged, I realized...it did! However, embracing accountability not only exposes my flaws, it also reveals a great strength: humble recognition that I can’t do this life on my own. If I am going to achieve my best, it will happen because of the help and influence of others.
Accountability is huge for my success, and I can confidently say it’s huge for yours, too. Here are a few ways accountability is working in my life:
- My computer is armed with software to help protect me and my family -- and keep me on track -- while surfing the web. That software reminds me that everything I’m doing on the web needs to be God-honoring.
- I wear an "Up" health band. Up records my exercise and sleep each day, then posts it online for my wife and friends to see. (If you’re using “Up” by Jawbone, add me to your team. (@joeacast)
- Now that I’m working more from home, my wife is able to see my work each day. She can see when I’m loafing or when I’m working too much. Just last week she helped me see that I was totally blowing off the kids to finish a couple of encouragement notes to others. How ironic, I’m trying to encourage other people, and neglecting my own children to do it. Hmmmm.
- This blog has some built-in accountability. When I’ve missed a posting day or two (I usually post on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays) it’s not uncommon to get a call, text or email form someone wondering if everything is ok. I cringe when I get one of those notes and I don’t have anything going, but the accountability is good and helps me work hard to stay ahead of the game.
- When I travel, or when my wife travels and leaves me home, I have a couple buddies who call and make sure I’m doing ok. These guys want to see me be successful, and they are eager to help me make sure I’m making the most of my time.
- I have another couple friends that ask me about my marriage quite frequently. They ask if I’m honoring my commitment to date Traci regularly. Especially during this particularly stressful season of life, they’ve been asking about our marriage and whether or not I’m doing my job to provide for, and take care of, Traci.
- When I’m working on a book, I set up a small team of people to help me meet my writing goals. They know my schedule and my deadlines, and they pray for me along the way, and ask keep me track.
The reality is that all of us need help in this life, and God has hard-wired us for relationships in order to find that help. From day one, He gave Eve to Adam (and Adam to Eve!) and all throughout Scripture you find the value and power of teamwork, friendship and accountability. So what happens when we don’t have that accountability?
- We treat people as property, and leave a wake of damaged relationships in our past. People without accountability often have few real friends and use their work as a shield to hide their insecurities or arrogance (or both). It’s hard to maintain good relationships when you live life without the input of others.
- We fall behind in our work, as no one is around to ask about details, confirm deadlines or even know what we’re working toward. A stay-at-home mom, a CEO, a college student or a Southern California pool boy can become lazy and ineffective, addicted to Netflix or video games, a busybody or micromanager when they live without meaningful input from others.
- We blame others for our failures, because no one in our lives is giving us the perspective we need. I’ve known too many leaders who operate without solid accountability, and they are professional blamers when it comes to organizational short-comings because it’s easier to blame a subordinate then it is to see yourself as the problem (or at least part of the problem). My lead pastor in Salem, Oregon, set a stellar example of submitting himself to accountability. More than once I saw him listen as a member of the Elder board, or a member of the congregation, confronted or challenged him on something related to his leadership. He was always willing (and eager!) to learn from those moments, and able to admit his own flaws when necessary. Accountability allowed him to see mistakes or shortcoming he maybe couldn’t see himself. That’s a good thing!
- We put up a front that hides major problems behind. As a pastor in the Pacific NW for almost 17 years, and now having served in Michigan for over two, I’ve seen too many ministries fall apart because a pastor held up a great facade while his marriage or personal purity or financial integrity was in shambles. When no one is asking us the hard questions, it’s too easy for us to hide the trash.
- We never realize our true God-given potential, because that potential is connected to the relationships God has given us. Leaders fail to get their organizations to their goals, marriages never reach the intimacy either spouse desires, families live in constant tension and people settle for ordinary lives because they neglect accountability.
Do any of those items resonate with you? If so, you might be lacking accountability in some area(s) of your life. Trust me, you can’t live the Overboard Life without the help of others, so the sooner you accept that, the sooner you can begin moving toward the goals, and ultimately toward the life, God has given you.
When I look at this list I know I’ve been guilty of each of these byproducts of living life without accountability. I’m thankful for the men and women who’ve stepped up to help me, for the ones who said yes when I asked, and for the ones who simply invited themselves into my life. In each case, the accountability has helped me live my God-designed life out of the comfort of the boat.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water.