Girlfriends in God - April 19, 2012

April 19, 2012
Accountability:  A Hedge of Protection
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Romans 12:5 “…and each member belongs to all the others.”

Friend to Friend
A certain expert guide lived in the deserts of Arabia. He was known for his tracking skills and never lost his way. The secret of his success could be found in the fact that he carried with him a homing pigeon with a very fine cord attached to one of its legs. When he had doubts as to which path to take, he threw the bird into the air. The pigeon quickly strained at the cord to fly in the direction of home, leading the guide accurately to his goal. Because of this unique practice, he was known as "the dove man."

We always need connections to those who will point us in the right direction. We will take the wrong path or make a wrong turn and there will be times when we have no idea which way to go or how to get home. We must then turn to God and to those who hold us accountable. 

Accountability is often seen as confining, a relationship straight jacket that limits freedom of expression and hinders those who “march to the beat of a different drummer.” Actually, the opposite is true. Accountability frees us to grow and change and is an important part of every relationship. 

When I married into the Southerland family, I didn’t know that tent camping was part of the deal. I might have reconsidered (just kidding). I decided I could learn to camp and maybe even enjoy it!  My first trip to Lake Greason in the foothills of the Ozarks was quite an experience. It did not take me long to learn the daily routine. Each morning, Dan’s mom would prepare a huge breakfast. The kids then did dishes while mom changed into her swim suit, donned her sun glasses, grabbed a towel and headed for the lake. On the shore, she grabbed an inner tube, positioned her towel in just the right spot over the tube, turned around and sat down. She would then float blissfully for hours.

There was a slight problem with this plan. Lake Greason had a current that carried mom down the lake, around the bend and into the path of ski boats. Several times a day, someone would have to swim after her and pull her back to the safety of the shore, where she would profusely thank them and go right back to floating. Finally, one of the kids came up with a great idea. We grabbed a ski rope, tied one end to mom’s inner tube and the other end to a wooden stake driven securely into the ground. She could then float until the rope ran out and someone “reeled her in.” What a perfect picture of accountability – giving someone who loves you the permission to “reel you in” when they see you headed in a dangerous direction. When we willingly make ourselves accountable to others, we are creating a hedge of protection that ultimately yields boundaries, parameters or behavioral lines that should not be crossed.

Honestly, most of us have experienced very little accountability in life because at the heart of being accountable to someone is the willingness to be submissive to them. We have abused the concept of submission. It was never intended to be demeaning and does not involve slavery in any form. Submission is protection and an intentional willingness to consider first the desires and wishes of another before our own.  God places others in our lives to see things that we cannot see, to encourage and build up, to correct, love and protect, but still, we tend to view accountability as a crutch and submission as a weakness. Submission is harnessed strength, a controlled strength that is born out of obedience to God’s command. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).

Jesus submitted Himself to the will of His father. He willingly laid down His desires and dreams, His plans and hopes in total submission. Out of that total surrender came the most powerful life ever lived. When we willingly submit ourselves to God and choose to make ourselves accountable to others, we will experience a freedom and power we have never known before. 

Let’s Pray
Father, I come to You today, submitting myself to You. Thank You for the protection, direction and power that comes from that submission. Forgive me when I have stood silent while someone I loved made dangerous decisions. Give me the courage to confront in love. Give me the wisdom to receive correction and to be accountable to others. Thank You for Your love that never condemns but always stands ready to keep me from making mistakes. And when I do fall, thank You for being there to pick me up and walk with me. 
In Jesus’ name,

Now It’s Your Turn
Read Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are wounds of a friend.”  What does this verse mean to you?  How does this verse relate to accountability?

Name two people in your life to whom you are accountable.
Are they willing to tell you the truth instead of what you want to hear?
Are they godly people who will constantly point you to Christ?

Who is accountable to you?
Are you willing to step between that person and the wrong choices?
Can you confront in love for the sole purpose of restoration?

More from the Girlfriends
God did not create us to live alone. We were created to need each other – for many reasons – one of the most important being accountability. It is much easier to make the wrong choices and to take the wrong turns when no one is watching. I often wonder how many marriages have failed, how many friendships have been destroyed, or how many lives have been wasted because there was no accountability. I praise God every day for a husband and friends who are willing to be a safety net in my life by holding me accountable. If you don’t have an accountability partner, don’t wait another minute. Ask God to send you a friend who loves you enough to protect you by holding you accountable. 

Need help?Check out my Online Bible Study. We are learning how to tame the tongue.

Need a friend?Connect with Mary on Facebookor through email. She loves hearing what God is doing in your life!

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Matthews, NC 28106

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Originally published Thursday, 19 April 2012.