Mike Foster is the co-author of "Deadly Viper Character Assassins" and blogs at DeadlyViper.org.
You can follow his nuggets on leadership, life and grace at Twitter.com/mikefoster.
Why I Don't Believe in Christian Accountability, Part 1
I am deeply committed to all of us living a life of radical integrity and grace. Through Deadly Viper I get the chance to work with leaders on personal sustainability and living a life with no regrets. And though I champion the ideas of transparency, authenticity, and brutal honesty, I don't believe in Christian accountability.
The whole concept makes me cringe and I don't think I'm alone in this assessment. It's horribly broken, ineffective, and doing a lot of people a disservice. In many ways Christian accountability is facilitating a pathway to our lives being chopped up by character assassins.
So here are a few reasons why I don't believe in Christian accountability and why a new discussion needs to happen around maintaining our integrity.
1. Lack of Grace:
The primary reason Christian accountability doesn't work is because we are more interested in justice and fixing a problem. I've seen too many times great men and women get chewed up by this process. When we fail, what we need most is grace and a second chance, not a lecture.
We have all probably experienced or seen a harsh response to our struggles or failures. But there is a big problem when we respond with justice and not grace. You see human beings are wired up for self protection and survival. When we others being hurt, rejected, or punished for their sin, we correctly conclude that it is better to hide, conceal, and fake it in the future. It basically comes down to this: I don't want to get hurt, so I'm not telling. When we lack grace, accountability breaks down.
2. Bad Environments:
Let me be frank. If I were having an illicit affair with a woman I'm not going to confess it to 4 guys at a Denny's breakfast. And yet, too often Christian accountability is carried out in these types of environments. We meet in small groups in a weekly environment with a few of our friends. Ultimately there is a lid on how transparent these conversations can be and too often we believe that if we are meeting weekly then we are "accountable."
My best conversations about my brokenness and struggles have come in non typical environments. Places where I am completely relaxed, at ease, and feel removed from my daily life.
I have seen leaders every year go away for a week and meet with a coach or therapist and have this time be very effective. They dump a ton of junk; begin working strategies in their life, and start dealing with significant character issues. To be frank, I would rather have us have one week of brutal honesty then 52 weeks of semi honesty at Dennys.
My point is simple. Find an environment that is going to allow you to open up and examine your current process.
3. The Results:
Unfortunately, the results speak for themselves. If Christian accountability was a company it would need a serious bailout. It simply inadequate and the results are sub par at best.
The breaking down of our marriages, financial impropriety, ego maniac and narcissistic behavior, sexual misconduct, and the bending of every rule we come across are simply signs of a failed system. Last week I read a post from a pastor who had received emails from 33 other pastors who confessed to him of being involved in an affair.
4. We Game The System:
If I wanted to I could spend the next decade of my life convincing you how wonderful I am and how I have it all together. (Luckily, I have no desire to do that) It bothers me that I'm clever enough to package Mike Foster in such a way that I could make you all believe what a swell guy I am and how I have it all together.
The problem with Christian accountability is that you and I can game the system. I know how to beat it and if you stick around the church long enough you will figure it out too. And that's a problem. We're the alcoholic that knows where the hidden key to the liquor cabinet is.
Gaming the system is not hard. We know the right words. We know the right things to talk about. We know how to frame things up to effectively keep everyone off course on who we truly are. I can do it and so can you. And that's a big problem.
So that's why I'm not a fan of Christian accountability and truly believe it is busted. But please don't lose hope. In part two, I have something I want to offer up as a replacement to this flawed system of maintaining our integrity.