I was shocked and saddened a few weeks ago when I heard of another prominent Christian leader who has fallen to the devices of the enemy.
If there is genuine repentance, the Christian community needs to respond with grace and forgiveness in the spirit of Galatians 6:1: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” However, what grieves me is even if he owns up to his sin, his ministry will never be the same. He has lost the trust of too many.
As an evangelist, it also grieved me in another way—the damage done to the cause of the gospel. This gives fuel to the flame of non-Christians who say:
- “Christians are hypocrites.”
- “I live a lot better life than most Christians I know.”
- “The church is full of deceitful people.”
I always tell unbelievers to focus on Christ, not Christians, but that doesn’t change the fact that the lives of believers ought to help the spread of the gospel rather than hinder it.
It is during these tragic moments that the importance of accountability becomes clear. I so believe in accountability that I have asked a member of the Human Resource Committee and former Chairman of our Board to ask me two questions every month: (1) Are you being faithful to your wife? and (2) “Are you lying to me?” I have begged him, “Please do not ever stop asking me those two questions.”
I believe the thing that we miss, though, is that accountability is not enough. After all, if a person wants, he can even lie to his accountability partner. We need what I call Accountability – PLUS.
By that, I mean a time when I sit alone with God every day and pray like the psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24; italics mine).
That time for me is first thing every morning. I talk to the Lord about the people on my prayer list for whom I have promised to pray. But I also talk to Him about me—where I want to grow spiritually, places I feel I am weak, temptations I want to avoid, and my desire to be the best employer, father, husband, evangelist, and speaker I could ever be. I also ask God to show me anything that as a depraved human being I might be missing.
Absolutely nothing has meant more to me in terms of my spiritual growth—and staying on course spiritually, morally, mentally, and any way you want to express it—than that time with the Lord.
Sometimes He shows me things I would rather not see, but He answers my prayer, “and see if there is any wicked way in me.” I come away feeling convicted, recharged, directed, and excited in a way that is impossible to express in words.
Every one of us needs an accountability partner. Everywhere I go I encourage believers to have one and explain what my own accountability partner has meant to me. But we also need accountability – PLUS. We need that time every day when in a broken spirit, we talk to our Savior and let Him talk to us. Nothing else is on our agenda; no one else is there. He has our undivided attention. It could be the single biggest thing that keeps our Christian testimony intact.
So, if I asked you, (1) Do you have an accountability partner, and (2) Are you practicing accountability – PLUS? could you answer “yes” to both?