Sunday, February 17, 2008

You need accountability partners. Here's why.

I like when ideas are simple. When they don't come cloaked in mystery or deep theology or secret words that only some people know. And this idea is definitely a simple one.

"If the smartest man on the planet messed up, chances are you might too."

That's it, the summation of what this post is about. If Solomon, who arguably owned the best brain every gifted to a human not named Jesus, could get something wrong chances are you could too.

Here's what we find in 1 Kings 11:4-6

As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.

Now before you think, "hey the guy struggled with ladies, that ain't so bad" you need to realize what this dude Molech was all about. Molech and his followers were big into child sacrifice. Killing your kid for favor from Molech was like dropping your tithe envelope into the bucket on Sunday.

Solomon didn't just sin, he blew it in massive, tremendous ways. He was given everything under the stars but still found himself marrying hundreds of women and encouraging child sacrifice.

What's that have to do with you? Only this: Solomon was smarter than you and still blew it.

And he was smarter than me and I don't want to blow it. I hope the next time I feel bigger than God or drunk on my own intelligence, I'll remember old Solomon who aged worse than Elvis. Sure, the king of Graceland got fat and did bad shows in Vegas, but he wasn't a babykiller.

So where does that leave us? Alone, even if we're hyper intelligent, we are going to fall. We will stumble, we will make mistakes early or late in life. But we are not designed to be alone. We must surround ourselves with accountability partners that love us enough to tell us the truth when we're too smart to see it with our own eyes.

We can all be Solomon if we're not careful.


portorikan said...

Great post. Thank you for sharing.

Michael said...

That was an awesome post, I took the liberty of posting a link to it to all my myspace friends... however, someone mentioned something that I think is a very valid point.. what do you think about this?:

Prodigal Jon said...

Michael -
Thanks for the comment and for showing me an interesting post. I think that writer makes some valid points. Where I think he gets a little slippery is in his liberal and wide definition of fear of man or pride. For me, I'm not afraid of my accountability partners, but I do not enjoy discussing my short comings with them when I fail. If desiring to avoid an awkward conversation prayerfully keeps me from stumbling I don't see that as me worshiping the fear of man. The other issue I would be careful about is that traditionally Christians have had a very narrow definition of "what the right ways to sobriety are." That is, it always has to be this pure motivation for holiness and righteousness that keeps you from stumbling. What that does is establish a "doesn't count mentality." That is, people start to put human definitions on a God powered experience. If I was an alcoholic and my sponsor helped me not drink one night, did that "not count" because it was not about freedom or a pure hope for sobriety? Now, is that the best way to engage in long term sobriety? No. Is it a legit way to get through a difficult night? Yes. To your friend I would argue, if fear of man is the wrong way to not act out with porn on a Friday night, what is the alternative if your motives are wrong? Is acting out the only other option?

And you know people like this, they are the ones that say things like "I'm not doing quiet time because I just don't feel led or on fire." They wait for some fictional spiritual motivation when the truth is, like Joshua said, we have to "choose."

The other thing is that I think there is a difference between "pride" and "arrogance" or conceit. If I am proud of the way I love my wife, and that is one of the things God helps use to keep me faithful, then does that not count? Would God say to me, you didn't do it the right way? Furthermore, in my favorite bible example, what motivated the prodigal son to come home? Was it, as your friend said, "the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. It’s freedom from the penalty and power of sin." No, he came home because there was a famine and he hit rock bottom. You could even argue that he knew he was better than pigs, a moment of pride, and knew that even his father's servants got better food. When he did get there, did the father ask him to qualify his motivations? Did the father say, "where you motivated by the fear of man or pride when you came home because if you were, it doesn't count." No, a thousand times no. The father spurns qualifications. The father sees two things, lost and found, dead and alive. I think he is the same about sobriety. He doesn't qualify the means, he focuses on the state, sober or drunk, clean or using.

I guess in summary, I agree with your friend that a sobriety based on fear of man and arrogance will fail. But I disagree with how limiting his definition of what a "good" accountability group is. If God wants to use a burning bush to speak to moses, a whale to change jonah or a friend you don't want to fail to help you stay sober, I am not going to be the one that tells him he can't.