“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
— James 5:16 (NLT)
Go wherever you want, whenever you want! It was a one-of-a-kind wristband. My hometown Kansas City Royals were playing against the famous New York Yankees, and my friend had given me an All-Access wristband. I was fired up. And I mean all access! On the field for batting practice, in the dugout with the coaches or in the locker-room with the players—I could go wherever I wanted and be around any coach or athlete on the team. All I had to do was lift my arm to show my All-Access wristband, and security let me in. There was nothing off limits; I had permission to wander and explore.
Who has the All-Access wristband in your life? We often talk about God having all access to our lives, and yes, the Lord should have all access. When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, we are giving Him permission to wander, explore and enter any room of our heart. Nothing is off limits. However, it’s another thing to give another human being all access. Do you have at least one trusted friend who has all access in your life?
Humbling yourself by letting others into your life and allowing them to help you and hold you accountable will release the sanctifying, transforming grace of God in your life.
— Nancy Leigh DeMoss
We all need at least one trusted friend to share our heart with—someone who has the green light to the door of our life, someone with whom no subject is out of bounds or off limits. This is someone who lifts us when we stumble and holds us down when we stray. They are absolutely, totally committed to your spiritual, physical, mental and emotional success.
But accountability never works when it’s demanding. There can be no judgment or condemnation, only tough love and compassion. The real work is done by the Holy Spirit—and we are not Him! The all-access pass only works when it’s voluntary. Then things once hidden can be exposed so God can deal with the sin and heal us.
Accountability includes opening one’s life to a few carefully selected, trusted, loyal confidants who speak the truth—who have the right to examine, to question, to appraise, and to give counsel.
— Charles R. Swindoll
What should you look for in an all-access-pass friend? This trusted friend needs to be someone who will fight for you—and you’re willing to do the same for them. They’ll hold you accountable in the areas of purity, faith and integrity, and they will fight for these things in their own lives too. They don’t walk away when things get tough or when you reveal the truth about what’s really going on inside. Accountability is more than just asking tough questions. It’s staying engaged and involved in the messy areas of struggle until victory is won.
All of us are one step away from making a stupid decision. All-access-pass friends help create moral margin and keep us at a safer distance from stupid. They expand our safety zone.
There’s something in each of us that says we can stand alone; we don’t need others. After all, we’re competitors. We do things by ourselves. We’re self-disciplined. We’re independent. I once heard an athlete say, “We would have a great team except for all my teammates!” Yes, we talk team, but we value self. And when push comes to shove, we honor self over team.
Don’t fall into that trap of isolation. Don’t be stupid! Living the Christian life is a “we” thing. There is a great African proverb that states, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” To finish the race of faith, we must run together.
Isolation is a silent enemy. But don’t get solitude and silence (two powerful spiritual disciplines) mixed up with isolation. Isolation is pulling away and saying, “I can live out my faith on my own, and I don’t need anyone to help me.” There is pride in isolation. We begin to think we can live our faith through our own power. Once we distance ourselves from those who know us best, changes begin taking place in the absence of accountability. Isolation makes people believe that sin can be committed free of consequences. Isolation makes us think we are the only people wrestling with a particular sin, problem, difficulty or addiction. We begin to believe no one else will understand us, so why open up and seek help? We think that, if we keep a lid on our problems, we will contain them.
Transparency unlocks authentic accountability and fights isolation. When we have teammates who we can be open, honest, authentic and vulnerable with, we experience what James 5:16 promises: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” When we are willing to confess our sins to a trusted friend, we experience healing. God forgives us of our sins, but we experience true healing when confession moves us from the dark into the light.
Accountability is a nonnegotiable in the Christian life. For 30 years, I have had at least one friend I connect with on a regular basis—someone who asks me tough questions. Accountability has allowed me to live for Christ with greater purity and passion. Truthfully speaking, I don’t know if I could survive without the people who hold me accountable. I need to have a brother in Christ in my face, making sure I’m doing what I’ve committed to do (i.e., spending time with the Lord daily, setting aside quality and quantity time with my family, making wise financial decisions and training my body). Every aspect of my life is evaluated in 360-degree accountability. With each trusted friend in my life, I am another step away from stupid. How many steps away from stupid do you want to be?
Simply stated, the banana separated from the bunch gets peeled first. So don’t be stupid. Don’t think you can live for Christ without being connected. The Christian life is intended to be lived as a team sport. Get an all-access friend or two. Two are better than one.
Father God, I want to finish the race of faith well. I don’t want to drop out or even stumble over the finish line. My desire is to run with endurance, keeping my eyes fixed on You! I need friends in my life to help me finish strong, and I want to help them finish strong. I ask for strength to break the sin of isolation and secrecy. Help me be open and transparent with at least one other believer. I don’t want to live out my faith alone anymore. In Jesus’ name. Amen.