hi! i was wondering if you could give me some insight on accountability within the church. a brother of mine is acting irresponsibly but doesnt believe that “he should be held accountable to me.” i understand that God is the ultimate judge, and that i’m nobody’s parent, but i believe that i’m supposed to hold him accountable as a sister in Christ.
(I made you anonymous just in case)
You’re absolutely right to hold a brother in Christ accountable. Please allow me the grace to first point you to some previous posts:
However, there are no formulas or guarantees with this sort of thing. There are at least some guidelines to know —
1) Totally check your motives.
We have to examine if we want to speak in love or just prove a point. Am I telling this person off or trying to help them? Am I loving them towards Jesus or twisting them to my preferences? People will be able to tell your motives by your voice and methods, and if it doesn’t look like love, it won’t work. Love, love, grace, truth, love.
I do a 30-Second Test. If this person were to die in thirty seconds, how important would this be? I did the Test recently and found that I couldn’t let my brother die with hate in his heart, so it was worth my time to rebuke him. And because he knows that I love him, he listened. It was difficult but we got through it.
2) Accountability doesn’t happen on its own.
There is almost no accountability that doesn’t come from an already established relationship. If you hardly know this guy, then there is no trust. We have to earn the right to be heard. Just because we’re “older” or “leaders” in the church doesn’t mean jacksquat. If I try walking into a prison as a “Bible preacher” without earning their trust, I’ll get as far as a shank in my side. As much as we would love to conform people to Christ, there’s less of a chance when I come across as a nanny. Sincerely love them.
3) We can’t win them all.
Sometimes people learn the hard way. I don’t say that as permission for going prodigal: I say that as someone who was blind to my own blindness and needed to start eating with the pigs to learn.
Your friend might do whatever he wants anyway. As hard as it is, you might have to let him. When he runs dry on that season of sin — sin ends or it ends you — then he’ll be looking for help. If you were the bastion of love the entire time, he’ll go to you. If not, he won’t.