When a Gift Honors and Humbles

 

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I hadn’t seen this friend for some time and I was looking forward to our lunch together. It seems that both of our calendars stay full, but our relationship is one of those that doesn’t include shopping trips together or surface conversation so periodically we make time to be together.

 

As we sat across from each other looking over the menu choices, the conversation quickly moved from the broad descriptions of what has been going on in each of our lives to a list of several things she wanted to process or get my read on.

 

I smiled as I thought of how many of our times together have been just like this. She honors our time together and is clear about how she desires to steward it. Now don’t misunderstand. We don’t spend all our lunch visits on deep theological subjects or get stuck swimming in old news, but the conversation is always purposeful.

 

Each of my relationships is precious to me and each is unique. The truth is: I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

My friend is a leader in ministry and as a result of my similar ministry involvements, she feels safe to express things she might not otherwise share. I’m a safe place for her. Sixteen years her senior also puts me in that place of being an older woman in her life.

 

There are many things that are different about each of us. Our backgrounds and hobbies do not totally align. Our church and ministry experiences have also been different. She is single and I am married with children and grandchildren. Even so, the Lord has blessed our link with each other around the hard choices and evolving ministries we have each been a part of.

 

I especially respect her fear of the Lord and her desire to watch over the flock given to her as a stewardship from Him. She has seen too many harmed by the misuse of power, authority, and trust within ministries. She has seen too many ministries crumble or erode over time despite starting with a solid foundation marked by humility and reliance on the Lord’s leading.

 

Our conversation had included sharing about such a ministry on this day and her concern that she not fall prey to what she sees happening in so many places. We had spent time talking about what safeguards might help prevent such things.

 

We both agreed that accountability was key and that leaders needed to have at least one safe relationship with which they could be totally authentically real.

 

It would also need to be strong enough for the person to be able to share hard truths with the leader if she or he saw the leader appeared to be off course, caught up in seeking to control those entrusted to them or use them to build up his or her ego.

 

During a pause in the discussion, my friend looked up and asked me if I could be that person for her and be willing to risk saying hard things she might not always like to hear. In many ways our relationship has been much like that for a while, but this felt different because it was asking me for a specific clear commitment. The request honored me, but also humbled me.

 

It was a rare gift of trust and responsibility and one that required a considered response.

 

Beyond that, it carried with it the unspoken understanding it would require me to be aligned with the Lord so that I would speak less out of my own preference or opinion and more from a biblical perspective as well as I could comprehend it in my own finiteness. As I accepted her request, I felt the weight of it and an awareness of my own fallibility.

 

The sad thing is that it is rare as members of the body in this modern age to risk being vulnerable and risk saying potentially hard things in order to be pulled back from our weaknesses, the chinks in our armor, our temptations to hide behind the cleaned up exteriors of our lives while ignoring the condition of our heart and spirit.

 

I have a personal trainer who holds me accountable for my physical well-being. I know I need her to do that because I know myself well enough to know I don’t do well on my own. If I want to steward my body, I know I need such accountability.

 

On more than one occasion, the Lord has shown me that I need someone to hold me accountable for the condition of my heart, my spirit, my attitudes, and behavior.

 

Of course the Holy Spirit seeks always to do that, but I doubt I am the only one who may not always listen as carefully as I should or turns off the receiver if it is not pleasing to hear.

 

Jesus sent out his disciples two-by-two. He clearly had knowledge of the value and importance of that. I think he was pointing to the gift and protection of accountability.

 

Accountability. It’s a rare and needed gift for each of us, for all of us.

 

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “When a Gift Honors and Humbles

  1. You’ve touched on so many important points here! In my own life, I have found accountability to be so important. It’s not easy, though, to find someone you can trust and with whom you can be vulnerable. At the same time, it’s not easy being the one asking the tough questions and holding someone else accountable. We need more teaching and encouragement on this in the church!
    I totally agree with you that this is especially important for those in leadership positions.

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    1. Thanks, Shannon. You’re right! Accountability are not for the faint of heart on either side. I also agree about the need for more teaching and encouragement in this area by our churches. Sadly, too many churches do not have leaders who practice this so it can be hard to teach and model it. Thanks for stopping by! Blessings and love, Pam

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  2. So true, what a humbling honor that is. I’m sure the feeling is mutual too. The person on the receiving end, is likely humbled and honored as well. Love this sweet topic, Pam. Thanks for sharing. ((blessings))

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  3. I had lunch today with two of my dear friends. We are all around the same age, so we don’t have the mentor/mentoree thing going on, but we do hold each other accountable and always get to the meat of the matter pretty quick when we are together. I’m so grateful for friendships in the body of Christ! Thanks for sharing this.

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  4. Accountability–something that’s so hard to ask for! I applaud your friend for seeking accountability and you for taking the request so seriously. It is indeed a an honor and a gift. She is fortunate to have you for a friend!

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  5. Hi Pam …

    Your post reminded me how much I miss those kind of spiritual in-depth friends since my move from NY to MA. There were just a few of them, but oh how valuable those conversations and relationships and lunchtime soul talks were.

    But I am grateful to have connected with some kindred spirits online … and you, my dear, are one of them. Did you see that I featured you here …
    http://www.lindastoll.net/2016/01/make-new-friends-and-giveaway-preview.html

    ;-}

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Linda! Thanks so much for honoring me in your great post on relationships! Priceless! Somehow the email of your post got buried in others and I just read this and wished I could come have coffee with you today! Let’s connect by email for more extended conversation if you’d like.❤️. Thanks as well for your sharing about my post today. Your faithful presence and encouragement never fails to bless me! Hope you had a great anniversary with your sweetheart! Love and hugs, Pam

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