All of us have moments in our lives where we were changed. These moments mold us, adjust our outlook on life, and change life’s purpose in an instance. One of those moments for me was the birth of my children. I thought I understood the female anatomy until I experienced my child’s grand entrance into the world. I know it much better now! Each birthing experience was different but there was one constant in each instance: the kids came out without clothes on! Yes, they were both naked and completely exposed.
Both my children seemed to be very comfortable being naked. It was almost as if they are more comfortable without clothes on than with some outfit from the rack. Even 6 years later my son will come running out of the shower without any clothes on right past the neighbors who are over for dinner. I have to convince him that it is better for him to be clothed when we have company over. It is like they were created to be naked.
In the Garden of Eden there is this amazing moment, short lived but beautiful while it lasted, that Adam and Eve were relaxing in the Garden completely naked. I have tried to convince my wife that this is still a good idea with little to no success! God created them without clothes and their naked years were the best of their lives. Why? God created each of us to be naked. What I mean is that when God created Adam and Eve the scriptures says they were naked and yet without shame. The scripture is not only referring to the fact that they were without clothes but more so that they were completely exposed to one another. Nothing was off limits and their lives were an open book to one another. Before sin entered the world relationships were open, transparent, and vulnerable.
Today many of our relationships are closed, secretive, cautious, and unhealthy. We are extremely careful with what we share with others resulting in a shallow life that shares only when it is safe. The problem is all those unsafe topics are ruining our lives.
What is really going on in your thoughts? What temptations are pushing you over the edge to failure? Are you fantasizing about another woman besides your wife? Have you acted on your lustful desires? Are you seeking out encounters and conversations with women who are not your spouse?
These are tough questions however they are not the real issue. We are asking these questions a lot. Every week we are meeting with other men and other pastors and we are asking the 4 most vital questions in life. We have identified what others need to ask us and have admitted our need to be real and transparent. Then what is the problem? We lie. We smile and then we lie. As pastors when it comes to accountability we lie. It is safer that way. After all I am responsible for a community of people, I am leading them, I am encouraging them in their journey with Jesus—I have a lot to lose and so I lie.
But you and I were created naked for a reason. Our lives thrive and grow in an environment of exposure, transparency, and authenticity. When you live a naked life you open yourself up to being hurt and betrayed, but you also open up the door to unprecedented growth.
Are you naked or covered up? I believe as pastors it is time to take off the long jeans and turtle-neck and begin to let a few trusted people into our lives. We often tell people that they will never overcome an addiction to pornography on their own and that they must identify an accountability partner. This is a person that they will not lie to and will be willing to be rebuked and loved by in the midst of struggle.
What kind of accountability works?
- Accountability only works in the context of relationship
If you don’t have a significant history of relationship with the person you are in accountability with then the percentage of success drops dramatically. Without a deep relationship there is a lack of trust and intimacy. As a pastor there might only be one person in your life that fits into this category. You may be in accountability groups for the benefit of others, but as a pastor you must choose your accountability partners based on relationship.
- Accountability only works with full exposure
A true accountability partner never simply takes your word as truth alone. True accountability occurs when there is full discloser through expose. Your accountability partner must be allowed to look into the areas of your life that few people see. If you are struggling with finances and foolish spending then they better have access to your bank statements. If you are struggling with pornography on the internet then they better have access to your internet history, x3watch report, and internet filter. An accountability partner must be given permission to get into your stuff. Without full exposure the door of deception is always part ways open.
I received a call one afternoon from a man who needed help because his world of porn had been revealed to his wife. His issue was deep and his addiction had brought him to download child pornography. As we talked I asked him about accountability and wondered if anyone was helping him through this struggle. He told me that he met with a group of men every Friday morning for the last 5 years. In this group he was asked weekly about pornography and lust. I asked him if he ever told them about his struggle. He said, “no, never once. Each Friday I simply lied about this area of my life.” What? Are you kidding me? This is not accountability this is a waste of time. This is the church the way evil would have it. This is impotent and weak labeled accountability.
I beg of you pastors to gain true accountability in the context of relationship with full exposure. You were created to live naked, exposed, transparent, and authentic in relationship with others. You are not superman or some other super hero. You are a man who desperately needs the support and love God offers-both through his Son and others. You were created naked for a reason.