by Sarah Onderdonk
There is no better mirror than a friend’s eye.
J. Wallace Day
Lion-hearted pastor Chuck Swindoll once referred to the prophet Nathan as the "ultimate accountability partner." In Nathan, (ref. 2 Samuel 12) it seems we have a streak-free window on the truth-baring aspect of real albeit “tough” love.
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."
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die!" (2 Samuel 12: 5)
Then the wool comes flying off:
Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man!…" (2 Samuel 12: 7)
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 utterly roils. 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 an idea… a notion… a feeling… a flash… a spark. Before sin played out, it was conceived as a thought. What if Nathan and David were accountable to one another… by cell phone or e-mail or text message or an hour every Saturday morning at Starbuck's… and David had shared his inner wrestling 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 would urge you to think about finding an accountability partner. 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.
Question: Do you have an accountability partner? Someone with whom you can be unplugged and real? Someone who has the courage and maturity to help you see yourself as you really are? Someone who understands that loving you means helping you grow in holiness and a deepening intimacy with Christ?
1. J. Wallace Day quote: Brainy Quote: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/j_wallace_day.html
2. Charles R. Swindoll quote: Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) Chapel Series
3. Scripture from NIV Topical Study Bible, Zondervan 1989