I heard someone recently refer to the prophet Nathan as the "ultimate accountability partner." I've been thinking a lot about accountability lately. I agree that in Nathan (see 2 Samuel 12) we have a powerful dimension on accountabilty... one who can pull the wool off eyes that are obscured and darkened by sin.
In the first half of 2 Samuel Chapter 12, God uses Nathan to lay a compelling foundation for an imminent rebuke of King David's sins (adultery and conspiratorial murder). Framing the situation in a simple parable, Nathan leads David to a place of righteous indignation over the cold and heartless actions of "someone else."
Then David's anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die."
(2 Samuel 12: 5)
Then the wool comes flying off:
Nathan then said to David, "You are the man!..."
So David has been brought by "accountability partner" Nathan to a place of gut-and-soul-level enlightenment regarding the true nature of his own transgressions. In verse 7, the punctuation tells us something important. Nathan is exclaiming to David that he is guilty! He's not presumably concerned at this moment about whether or not he's going to hurt David's feelings or lose his inroad with the King. His job is to help David see his sins as God sees them. The King's misdeeds were brought into the bright and unclouded light of day and it is through Nathan that the Lord made this illumination possible.
Accountability Partner Responsibility #1: "After"
Be real and frank about the tough stuff.
There's another role for an accountability partner. As I read through this Scriptural account, I had to wonder what would have happened if Nathan had been brought into the "planning stages" of David's sin. Because before David slept with Bathsheba and before he conspired to have her husband taken out, he had a thought... an idea... a notion... something like a lightbulb (metaphorically speaking) went off. Before the sin played out, it was conceived as a thought. What if Nathan and David were accountable to one another... by phone or e-mail or text message or an hour weekly at Starbuck's... and David had shared his inner wrestlings with Nathan before the thought became action?
Could it have prevented an adulterous affair, murder and the resulting punishment from these disheartening acts of rebellion against God? Obviously, we don't know that answer to that question. But it does lead me to wonder how many accountability relationships today have averted potential disaster.
Accountability Partner Responsibility #2: "Before"
Point to the ditch before the car veers and crashes.
I urged my Monday morning small group to think about finding accountability partners. This would be someone other than your spouse whom you can trust to keep your personal matters confidential... someone whose job it is to keep you straight on your walk... who will have the courage to give (as you have the grace to receive) honest, candid feedback.
My accountability partner of three years is "the sister of my soul" and we achieved this level of truly familial intimacy by agreeing to be real with one another and by helping each other navigate the treacherous terrain of life openly and honestly.
Question: Do you have an accountability partner? If not, please make it a priority to find one!
(Pic by jonnyphoto; see http://flickr.com/photos/jonlewisphotography/453513809/ for restructions)
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