Tag Archive: accountability


This week has been a little fighty fighty on the Facebook and i’m not sure why.

i strongly suspect it is linked to the Rugby World Cup that has been happening as touching on that ‘holy grail’ in a country so passionate about the sport definitely touches a nerve. As does most conversation about race.

So in the midst of three days of more ‘taking people on’ than i am typically used to, i had someone post on my wall that he was “troubled by the fact that you have an opinion about everyone and everything” and concerned about something i’d called someone and suggesting i was not being consistent in my beliefs and actions.

Which hurt me a little bit?

WHAT? Brett ‘Fish’ Anderson hurt by something someone said? Well… you know… there’s a difference between ‘Not caring what people think’ and ‘Not caring what people think’.

i think everyone likes to be liked by people. And so when there is a moment of that not happening, it bums us out. Or maybe that’s just me, but there is definitely a moment of: ‘Oh no, someone doesn’t like me’.

When a second person jumped on the first person’s comment to back him up on the fact that i do have rather a lot to say on Facebook and i could be less rude, that didn’t help. [Although we did manage to talk it out and come to a bit more of a happy ending i believe].


i’m okay though. i didn’t cry myself to sleep. She may have turned me into a newt, but… i got better! [obscure but brilliant Monty Python reference]

There are a couple of things i feel might be worth mentioning around this, especially for people who constantly challenge and question and wrestle and invite others to do the same: There will be pushback. Not all of that pushback is going to be good or accurate or helpful. But not all of it is going to be bad. Some of it might even be a little bit of both.

So what do you do? Well there is this amazing line in one of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonian church where he talks about ‘Testing the spirits. Holding on to the good and avoiding every kind of evil.’ Which is excellent advice.

Was what was said about me true? Was it totally true or was there any truth in there? If so, pay attention to it, learn and move on. [Maybe thank the person for pointing it out!]

If it’s not true at all, then let it go. i was talking to tbV about it in the car a little later and she reminded me about some things some other people had been saying to me recently which were helpful and true. They helped me to put both of these things in perspective.


One thing that was interesting was that both comments on this particular thread came from people i don’t think i’ve had any interaction with for years. Which doesn’t mean what they said was not true. But it does suggest that there is a lack of relationship and so i hold it a little more loosely than when my good buddy Bruce Collins challenged me on a stance i was taking on Facebook a few weeks ago and warned me that he thought i had crossed a line.

You see, i have invited Bruce to speak into my life. i have no doubt that he loves me and he has championed me and encouraged me and cheered when i have done well and loved me so much that when he questions something, it still hurts [who likes to be told they are wrong?] but i know it can be trusted. i won’t necessarily always agree with him either [because we’re different people although we definitely agree on more than we disagree on] but i will listen and really dig deeply into what i said and question it because i know it was spoken in love.


i imagine everyone’s process works differently. But the way it typically works for me is that if someone challenges me i will probably give immediate reaction push-back, but i will go and think about it later and it might take a day or two for me to process and realise, ‘Oh wait, actually they were right’ which means having to go back, tail between my legs and apologise to them and thank them for challenging me. But it happens.

And you don’t have to have good relationship with me to hold me accountable. i expect and invite everyone to hold me accountable for everything i say and do – i realise i live a bit of a public life and so that is completely necessary. But then there are certain people who i love and trust and have no doubt they love and trust me who i have invited to jump in when they see me out of line and bring rebuke and caution and challenge and so i am more likely to listen to them more easily and quickly than someone who is not.

Which makes a lot of sense. Because as i mentioned before, i am speaking/writing/sharing a lot about Race and Reconciliation and Christianity and Relationships and more and some of these topics get pretty heated. It would not be wise to agree with everything said to me in response to conversations had around those topics. But it is good to have some trustworthy people specifically watching my back on these to help keep me in line.

i am so grateful that my pool of people i trust to speak this kind of Truth in Love into my life is so huge. It is not easy being the person who brings the caution/challenge/rebuke as it is not easy being the person who receives it. But it is so crucially important and necessary to ensure a life that is consistent with beliefs, that will hopefully be used to be a part of significant conversation and action.

What has your experience with accountability been? Giving it or receiving it? Who are the people who you have invited to speak Truth in Love when it counts? 

[For some other thoughts on Friendship, click here]

Ephesians 4.15 says, ‘Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.’

Ah, i get it now! When i read ‘Share without pretending’ i had no idea what this was going to be about, but the verse link cleared it up. We are talking about speaking the truth in Love.

And i would add in Proverbs 27.6 for sure – ‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.’

Many people feel like Love is telling someone what they want to hear so that they feel good. Especially when it is the answer to question like ‘Do these jeans make me look fat?’ or ‘What do you think of my new hairstyle?’ [altho, to be honest, sometimes answering those questions ‘right’ are a matter of survival] but even with those, if you go for the self-preservation option, you might feel good about yourself for giving a favourable opinion, but if you are sending your special person out into the crowds looking ridiculous or with everyone else thinking, ‘my, she looks fat’, then it may not have been the most Loving response to give.

But those are very superficial examples. What about things that run deeper like behaviour or character issues?

I don’t know many people who enjoy conflict. Even when you are speaking the Truth in Love, in the moment you can leave feeling crappy and unloved. Later when the person has considered it, they may come back and thank you, but often it is a thankless role. But do it anyway!

Look at that verse, ‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.’ – later on, in Paul’s letter to Timothy, you read this: ‘For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.’ [2 Timothy 4.3]

An enemy is someone who gives you a big thumbs up “Yes!” when they know full well that the answer they should be giving is a “No!” Someone who celebrates when you get drunk and hit on some girl, even though you have a girlfriend who is not with you. Someone who looks the other way with you when you tell them about the shady business deal you are contemplating. Kiss. Kiss. Kiss.

i have one friend [and only one, so don’t you try it] who used to be able to come up to me when i would hang out with him at a coffee shop and say, “Bud, you’re looking fat!” and i would dig it. well, not a lot, cos i know it would mean a lot of work of being careful what i ate and upping the exercise and so on, but we had such a strong relationship that he felt the freedom to be able to wound me [in Love] and i would receive it as an act of friendship. i would probably receive that word well from a lot of other people, but they would HAVE to be a lot more careful with their wording.

when a good friend says something or does something to wound you, you should be able to step back from the wounding and focus on the fact that you know the heart and character of this person and are secure in their Love and friendship and so why did they do that thing? i need to really hear what they were saying and honestly evaluate whether it is true or not. [because sometimes friends will get it wrong, i certainly have a lot… but if the wounding is done in Love and with the best of intentions and heart it becomes something that will quickly be healed]

this is about TRUST and ACCOUNTABILITY and INVITING PEOPLE TO SPEAK INTO YOUR LIFE and STRONG RELATIONSHIP. and it is such a powerful thing. when you know that you have friends who will risk themselves to speak Truth to you in Love [because they see your bigger picture character and life as more important than the immediate response you might have to it] then you have a powerful thing.

as i seek to be someone who speaks Truth to my friends in Love, i need to constantly be asking myself, ‘Am i willing to receive the same kind of treatment from others?’ and ‘Who are the people who i have invited to hold me accountable with their Love-filled woundings?’

What has been your experience in this area?

to look at enjoying without complaint, go here.

so i meant to post this short one this morning on the back of ‘unaccounted for’ which a lot of people have read and some of you have commented on.

and it was this thort that i had the other day as i was walking down the street post rugby world cup ‘tragedy’ – that when we talk about the biblical concept of iron sharpening iron, it is not a pleasant, comfortable process although it does lead to positive, growth-enducing results

the way iron sharpens iron is by hitting it. hard enough to bend it. to mold it. to shape it into a new and better thing.

or as i just tweeted on the twitter, “When iron sharpens iron it doesn’t happen by means of a group hug.”

i imagine everyone, or at least most people, want to be better people – we want to be sharpened – we want to love better, to live better, to be more effective at this life thing… but most of us want to skip the ‘this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me’ bit and jump straight to the result…

we want the great teeth but without the pain of the dentist’s needle.

and i guess the main problem with that is that it doesn’t work that way. well not a lot of the time anyways.

iron sharpening iron requires some hitting and some shaping and some heatening of the context of the iron and i believe accountability [of word, action and facebook status for starters] is a huge part of that process.

but the reality is this – that accountability is not taken [well not successfully, not usually, i have the bumps and bruises and unfriendings to prove it] it is given. i invite you to speak into my life, to caution when i appear to be heading down the wrong road, to intervene when i seem to have lost it completely. and the kind of people i invite to hold me strongly accountable [because as a Christ follower i see myself directly accountable to everyone, both Christ-followers and those who don’t have right to speak into my life because i am claiming to at least pursue a certain standard – but then there are significant people i extend a bonus invitation to actively hold me there] are those who i know will do it in love. which is key to how effective that accountability is.

‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 27.6

so if you’re really seeking to be a better person, to live more effectively, to have a greater significance in the world, then you need to invite the sharpening that only iron can bring… being reminded that it won’t always be fun, or feel nice… and sometimes it may even be painful and involve your pride being battered and your reputation being dented, but it is so worth it.

so won’t you please hand me the iron…

so yesterday we lost a rugby match. like a game. i hear there’ll be another one in a few weeks time. in four years time there will even be this kind of one. we won it before. a different team will win it this time. the world will continue to turn.

within twenty minutes of us losing the game i was completely bummed. not because we lost the game, but because naturally facebook statusville became the dumping ground for peoples emotions. which is fine. i was bummed we lost and posted a status of ‘aw’ or something [i am a bigger cricket fan than rugby so maybe that blunts it a little] and a more hardcore ‘robbed’ or something on twitter. but then i thort about it for a quick moment and had a perspective ‘it’s a game’ moment and so changed it to something more happy or pleasant or something.

and then i started seeing the updates. which started with people being bummed. and progressed to people being really bummed. then the south african’ness kicked in and people started being bummed with the ref. [cos clearly with 80% possession it was really only his fault that we lost the game] and then i started reading statements about how the ref should be high fived in the face with a brick and how someone else if confronted with Hitler and the ref and two bullets would shoot the ref twice or something [there’s some great perspective for you] and i just heard the ultimate extreme of ‘What do South Africans and the USA have in common? They both faced tragedies of 9-11’ [being the score we lost by as opposed to the date some planes were directed into buildings killing thousands of people]. Wow. Really?

back in the day i would have probably jumped on to a whole bunch of statuses [stati?] and taken people on and challenged and so on [but my wife rightly says i do that too much and so i am trying to be better at doing it more selectively] and so i tried to rather focus my energies on creating positive statuses [stati?] on my own page to channel a different kind of energy [altho i did make a ‘bummed’ twitter tweet at it which was not appreciated by someone]. tbV posted a challenge status and people started taking her on [as they do] and so i tried really hard to not get involved in that one.

am i saying don’t be bummed by the fact that we lost the rugby world cup match? not at all. be bummed. but try and keep it in perspective.

but the real point of this blog goes beyond that. it is the reaction to Val’s statement and the kind of reaction that arrives strongly any time you try and call someone publically on some public stance they make on facebook. i have had people unfriend me because of it. “how dare you challenge me publically on a public statement i am making?”

the current reality of it is that facebook statuses [stati?] and twitter feeds have become a place where people feel the freedom to dump emotionally without any form of accountability… so cowards feel the freedom or bravado to ‘say’ things they would never say to people and no-one is held accountable or generally appears to want to be… all people want is to be able to say what they want to say and screw anyone else [that sounds pretty harsh but i honestly believe that’s where we currently find ourselves]

and it is not healthy or good – as good friends to each other we should have accountability especially to speak into the lives of those we are really close to and need to really challenge each other on how we speak and live and status update… and it needs to be mutual. and we need to take it seriously. ESPECIALLY if we identify ourselves as Jesus followers.

think before you speak [i know, i know, i far too often struggle with mouth-moves-faster-than-my-brain’alism] and realise that when you facebook status update or tweet you are in fact speaking. people are listening. people are reading. people are watching.

where is the iron sharpening iron?

continuing with the HOW FAR IS TOO FAR question…

finished the first part by saying this:

So THE QUESTION you frame will sound a lot more like this – HOW CAN I LOVE AND RESPECT THIS PERSON i am in a relationship with to the extent that if the dating relationship ever ends, he/she does not walk away with A WHOLE LOT OF BAGGAGE [physically, emotionally…] and HOW MUCH CAN I SAVE OF MYSELF AND KEEP SPECIAL for the person who i am going to end up marrying?

and HERE ARE SOME PRINCIPLES that should help you deal with this in a POSITIVE AND HEALTHY way:

[1] DECIDE ON THE BOUNDARIES BEFORE YOU NEED TO – if you are sitting in a darkened room with your girlfriend on the couch at 11pm on a Saturday evening and there is no one else at home, then the moment things start progressing physically is not the best time to start thinking about what your boundaries are – it’s NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. So come up with a plan and discuss it with your person BEFORE you get into the situation, so that WHEN THE SITUATION OCCURS the boundaries are already in place and it will be easier to slow things down or stop them completely.

[2] ERR ON THE SIDE OF SAFE – as i mentioned before if you are playing right on the edge of the cliff then you are only ONE BAD MOVE AWAY from falling over. So when it comes to what physical stuff you and your person are happy with, rather err on the side of less. As a married man, i can promise you that i NEVER LOOK BACK at past relationships i had AND WISH I HAD GONE FURTHER with any of the girls. Rather when meeting and dating and eventually marrying Val, i wish that i had done less. I was her first boyfriend and so i know i was not able to offer her the same purity that she offered me. So DO LESS! Take more time to get to know each other and enjoy each other as people, and less time in darkened rooms making out. [There is lots of time for that later, Mmm…]

[3] HAVE GOOD ACCOUNTABILITY – Proverbs 27.6 says “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” And what this means is if you have someone in your life who you know loves you and cares about you, then even their words of caution or rebuke can be trusted (because it will be done in love) whereas people who just say “Yes!” to everything you do or want to do, are really acting as enemies to you. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SOME GODLY PEOPLE who will not be afraid to SPEAK TRUTH in your life. For guys, have a guy and for girls, have a girl who you can speak to about your relationship stuff, about the struggles and temptations [especially in this area of physical stuff] and who will check in on you and be praying for you and loving you back to health if you ever do mess up.

This is one of the areas that takes down Jesus-following people MORE THAN MOST OTHERS. Largely because of THE GUILT AND CONDEMNATION that comes to visit when you get it wrong. We know that in Jesus there is no condemnation – there is GRACE AND FORGIVENESS and a second chance. But WHY EVEN GO THAT ROUTE? MAKE GREAT CHOICES FROM THE BEGINNING and you won’t even have to go down that road.


HOW CAN I LOVE AND RESPECT THIS PERSON i am in a relationship with to the extent that if the dating relationship ever ends, he/she does not walk away with A WHOLE LOT OF BAGGAGE [physically, emotionally…] and HOW MUCH CAN I SAVE OF MYSELF AND KEEP SPECIAL for the person who i am going to end up marrying?

[to continue to part III click here]

why is this stuff important? i don’t think this is about arisefest and my blog – not anymore, that was just a catalyst to a lot of in depth thinking about a crucial topic which i feel is hugely lacking in the church…

[was i right in wot i wrote about arisefest? i’m not sure, perhaps not – the one principle that was intentional though was mentioning names of some of the bands i was super amped with (so that those who were not there could still hear some praise of some of the individuals and groups who got it right – there were many more) and not mentioning names of bands/individuals who i thort maybe got it wrong (so that those who were not there didn’t get a gossip feed on something that didn’t concern them) – however, for those who were at the fest it was obvious as to two of the individuals i was referring to and that is consistent with my thorts on the public behaviour vibe (i do think it would have been a lot more fair on the mc guy to speak more in depth with him as opposed to the quick rebuke i gave to him in person – i have been trying to track him down to do so, but as of yet no-one has given me his name) and dealing with it…]

the principle i do want to look at is accountability – most people really don’t dig confrontation (maybe all people, altho i have met some do who seem to rather like it) in any shape or form and so just don’t do it at all – and so when our friends are caught up in sin (which is always going to be destructive – to them and probably those around them, at some time or other) we look the other way, because dealing with it will be awkward.

and it will. but it is necessary. and if the friends and family of people started taking more responsibility and ownership in the area of accountability/Truth-in-Love speaking/correction then it would not be left to third parties to feel the need/pressure to take it on themselves. and if it comes from friends/family then it is way more likely to be received well and effective because there is relationship there already…

proverbs 27.6 “wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” – that is an incredible verse and an amazing principle – if someone who is a good friend to me calls me on something/challenges in love/gently rebukes then it will still be a wound (no-one likes to know or hear they are wrong ever, it is the pride in us) BUT if it is from a friend then i know it can be trusted because i know they love me and want my good – an enemy on the other hand will look the other way and allow me to continue with behaviour or habits that will ultimately hurt me much more deeply or else even applaud me in the wrongdoing – they may think they are being my friend because they are not making me feel bad now, but ultimately their actions prove them to be an enemy because as the sin/habit increases so it will later take me down…

the Love of the “does anyone condemn you, no? well neither do I?” must be balanced by the Truth of the “go and sin no more”

if we can get this right, we will transform the church… and then the world…

and that seems to perhaps be the principle [your thorts are greatly appreciated] – that if you sin in public, you need to be cautioned/rebuked/challenged/held accountable in public – and my reasoning is this… the people observing the non-Christ-following behaviour need to be made aware that that is not Christ-following behaviour otherwise they might think it is okay and go and do the same…

so when peter is chilling with the gentiles and then the certain group of jews show up and suddenly peter pulls aside and pretends not to hang with the gentiles, paul could have pulled peter aside and gently rebuked him, but then the people observing the behaviour would not have realised that it was wrong and would perhaps still have been discipled into doing the same kind of behaviour because peter had modelled it.

Jesus eventually takes on the Pharisees and Sadducees publically because He wants to send a strong message to them, but also to the people who are following them or watching their behaviour and thinking that is what it means to be a follower of Yahweh – and so He is sending a message to the people as much as He is to the religious leaders.

this coupled with the teaching in the new testament on the greater responsibility that leaders/teachers have to teach and live well, because not only are they responsible for their own lives, but also for the lives of those people who are watching them lead and listening to them teach…

so that is kind of where my thorts are at on this – i think it is a risky or potentially dangerous thinking to have, because it can quite easily be abused or done wrong – and i believe the key here is Truth in Love (altho again if we look at how Jesus speaks to the religious leaders it’s hard to see where Truth in Love ends and Righteous Anger begins)

the one other example someone quoted to me was Jesus and the woman caught in sin in John 8 but again the whole situation there was pretty public (altho the public aspect of it was kind of thrust upon Jesus as part of the trap) and coupled with Jesus’ “does anyone condemn you? no, then neither do I” is His parting line of “Go, and sin no more!” – the Love and the Responsibility go hand in hand and Jesus doesn’t undermine one to present the other…

continue to the last part here

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