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Will Someone Help Me Do the Right Thing?

Offering a helping hand

"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21)

Hudson was only three years old, but he was already beginning to grasp the concept of accountability. Somewhere in his little heart, Hudson understood the truth that he needed someone to help him do the right thing. He knew he was weak. He wanted to make the right choice, but sometimes he just couldn't. And in those moments of weakness, he needed someone to take the decision out of his hands. Hudson chose his then six-year-old brother Justus to be that someone in his life.

Justus and Hudson loved the television show Paw Patrol, a preschool action series about seven heroic puppies, Chase, Marshall, Rocky, Zuma, Rubble, Skye, and Everest, led by a tech-savvy boy named Ryder. The Paw Patrol works together on rescue missions to protect the city of Adventure Bay. The show models the importance of teamwork and friendship and teaches the importance of being a good citizen. It is also just plain fun to watch. Cutest. Show. Ever.

Soon after the Paw Patrol show began airing, the Paw Patrol stuffed animals began appearing on toy store shelves - and flying off those shelves about as quickly as they appeared. Whenever I spotted one of the seven stuffed puppies, I snatched them up for Justus and Hudson. I tried to wait until the next holiday or birthday to give each boy one of the puppies, but I couldn't help myself. I can still hear Hudson's scream of delight when he found Chase in his car seat. Justus put both hands in the air and shouted, "Yes!" and scrambled up on his bed to grab Marshall off of his pillow. We were celebrating the fact that it was Tuesday. Why not?

Both boys slept with their Paw Patrol puppies, took them on trips, and included them in many of their daily adventures. I think it is safe to say the puppies were important to Justus and Hudson. When Hudson got Rubble, he was just beyond delighted! He took that stuffed animal everywhere he went. Our daughter warned him that it was his responsibility to take care of Rubble and not lose him. And he was definitely not allowed to throw Rubble out of the car window. Hudson didn't have a great track record in this area. He loves fresh air and begs his mom and dad to put the windows down "just a little bit" when they are driving. It often ends in disaster. Hudson has thrown both his mom's phone and his dad's phone out of the car window, along with several Hot Wheel cars, a couple of action hero figures, one of his shoes. You get the picture.

My daughter Danna said they were running errands one day. The windows were down, and the radio was blaring. Both boys were in their car seats holding a Paw Patrol puppy. She was watching them in the rearview mirror. Hudson seemed very thoughtful as he stared at Rubble. All of a sudden, he handed the precious puppy to Justus and said, "Here, Justus. You hold Rubble so I won't throw him out of the window." Translation: Hudson was asking Justus to keep him from making a terrible mistake. He was asking Justus to hold him accountable. Accountability offers freedom. Accountability is often seen as a confining, straight-jacket relationship 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. 

Accountability and Submission

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. Submission is protection and an intentional willingness to consider first the desires and wishes of someone before our own. God places others in our lives to see things we cannot see, encourage and build up, correct, love, and protect. We still 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. 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. 

We Need Connections

Romans 12:5b "…and each member belongs to all the others." Accountability requires connections. 

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. 

We Cannot Save Ourselves

When I married into the Southerland family, I didn't realize 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 swimsuit, donned her sunglasses, 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. 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. Let's put it into practice.

Find a Safety Net

Read Proverbs 27:6 "Faithful are wounds of a friend." What does this verse mean to you? How does this verse relate to accountability?

Roses are beautiful flowers. People who know me are aware of the fact that I can kill any plant known to humankind. I once had a neighbor who grew roses in every shade of pink, yellow and red, but she never handled the roses without wearing thick gloves because of the thorns. I asked her why she continued to grow roses even though they constantly inflicted wounds even while she was wearing gloves. I will never forget her answer and the profound truth it held. "The beauty of the rose is worth the occasional wound it gives. I have learned to handle them with respect and in such a way that my wounds are few." The same truth can be applied to every relationship in our lives. 

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?

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. 

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/kieferpix

Mary Southerland is also the Co-founder of Girlfriends in God, a conference and devotion ministry for women. Mary’s books include, Hope in the Midst of Depression, Sandpaper People, Escaping the Stress Trap, Experiencing God’s Power in Your Ministry, Fit for Life, and 10-Day Trust Adventure, You Make Me So Angry, How to Study the Bible, Fit for Life, Joy for the Journey, and Life Is So Daily. Mary relishes her ministry as a wife, a mother to their two children, Jered and Danna, and Mimi to her six grandchildren – Jaydan, Lelia, Justus, Hudson, Mo, and Nori.


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