People who get too big for their britches shouldn’t be surprised when they get caught with their pants down.
An expert is defined as a person with comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of a skill in a particular area. So I’m pleased to say I have no expertise in the area of sexual harassment. But I’m not foolish enough to pretend I couldn’t be caught in its web. And you shouldn’t be either. But how do you protect yourself from becoming a person who exploits your power or position? Simple.
Before you say, “It’s more complicated than that, Tim,” let me just tell you—it’s really not. Let’s break it down. If we refuse to be accountable to others, we start believing in our own superiority. Then we begin behaving as if we’re above reproach. In time, we adopt an inflated sense of entitlement which leads to a decreased value of others. Eventually, we give ourselves license to mistreat people without fear of consequences or consideration for others.
When we’re unwilling to be accountable to others for our lives, we’re proving exactly why God said, “It’s not good for the man to be alone.” He knew the possible pitfalls we’d face without accountability that comes through community.
In my pastoral role for nearly 30 years, I’ve heard all kinds of excuses about how hard it is to find an accountability partner. And I’ve made those same excuses. But they’re cop-outs because accountability is uncomfortable—for everyone—not just leaders. Helping people reach their potential starts by taking a risk to lead by example.
Accountability keeps us in check. Holds our feet to the fire. And prevents random sparks from becoming raging infernos that destroy innocent lives—including our own. Here are some suggestions adapted from Joshua Reich to help you find an accountability partner:
- Someone you trust. If you can’t trust your accountability partner, you are off to a bad start. You won’t be honest and the relationship won’t bring about the goals it sets forth. You have to trust the person, completely.
- Someone who loves you. Your accountability partner must love you as a person and want what is best for you. This doesn’t mean telling you what you want to hear. But it does mean wanting to see you succeed and become the person God created you to be. Loving you means saying hard things to you sometimes.
- Someone with nothing to prove. My accountability partners (I have more than one) have all had the knees knocked out from under them a time or two. When your accountability partner has nothing prove, they can focus on you without a hidden agenda (I find someone older than me is the best prospect for this role).
- Someone you are not married to. Your sole accountability partner should not be your spouse. Period. You should be open and honest with your spouse—no secrets—but someone else should hold you accountable.
If you have other suggestions, please comment below. Feel free to also share your best practices or biggest problems with accountability in the past. Let’s learn together because alone makes dumb decisions.
Don’t get caught with your pants down. Practice accountability. And end sexual harassment.
(1 SET FOR YOU. AND 1 SET FOR YOUTH.)