Top 5 Posts of 2011: #4 Enough to Look Accountable

Each year during the week between Christmas and New Years we post the Top 5 Posts of the previous year. Today through the end of the year, we will post the top five posts of 2011. We hope you enjoy this short recap of the year and can’t wait to see all that God does at RefineUs in 2012.

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On Friday, Trisha and I were on our way to Indiana to show the house we still own to some potential renters. About half way through the trip, I got a call from a good friend. The conversation was sadly all too familiar.

“A few days ago, a really good friend of mine confessed to an affair”, my friend said. “How well do you know this guy, how close are you guys”, I asked. “He is a really good friend and I have been his accountability partner. What I’ve realized is that he has told me just enough to look accountable.”

That phrase rang in my head for the next two hours. For years, that was my life. I was transparent just enough to make people believe I was authentic. I was as honest as it was comfortable. I knew how to admit weaknesses and struggles that were socially acceptable and would score me religious points.

I’ve said this before, but it is still true: Accountability without transparency is useless.

Why do we hide so easily?
Fear of rejection.
Fear of judgment.
Fear of the consequences of honesty.
Fear of losing a relationship.

No decision made in fear is ever healthy.

I think it was Andy Stanley that said, “We fear the consequences of confession because we have yet to realize the consequences of concealment.”

I spent three years in an “accountability “ relationship in which I wasn’t transparent. It is an exhausting way to live. Lying to the people that are closest to you is never life giving.

In order to not go back to sharing “just enough to look accountable” I am consistently asking myself these questions as I attempt to be transparent…maybe they will help you today:


1. Am I telling the entire truth right now?

Shading the truth is easy. Exaggerating is often unnoticeable. As I am telling any story, but especially a story about myself, I want to always ask, “Am I telling the entire truth right now? Am I leave anything out or adding anything to this story? Am I lying when the truth will do?”

2. Am I sharing details that will make me look more spiritual than I really am?

You know how this rolls…we share parts of our heart with someone and 100% of our motivation is to show them how “close to God” we are. We want them to think of us as spiritual; we want to appear put together; we want to settle any doubt they may have of our relationship with God.

3. Am I trying to protect someone with only part of the truth?

I convince myself that if I tell the truth, it is only going to hurt a particular relationship. Truth does hurt a relationship…but it hurts like the setting of a broken bone hurts. There is tremendous pain in the moment, but then the relationship is set back in place to be stronger than it was before.

4. Am I telling myself the truth?

Sometime the person I need to be the most honest with is myself. I can deceive myself easier than anyone else. If I can’t be honest with myself, then I’m incapable of being honest with others.

These are four questions I use to be transparent, what would you add or take away?

2 Responses to Top 5 Posts of 2011: #4 Enough to Look Accountable

  1. HouseOfNine

    Hi Justin and Trisha, This is a topic my husband and I are discussing as we work on a recent road block in our marriage. We each have our struggles, I struggle with trust, respect, anger and wanting to ‘fix it’… he has struggled with not being honest (from really insignificant things that ultimately don’t matter to the big stuff) and a sexual addiction (no affair). My question is how do you feel about being 100% transparent to one another? I’ve read varying opinions on this, some say that the wife should not be the person you go to while she’s healing others say that’s crucial to rebuilding trust. And from a wife’s perspective when your husband comes to you with an honest heart and transparency and it hurts how do you support him through your hurt?

  2. I appreciate the way you addressed this issue of transparency. I was married to a ministry leader (both on the mission field and when we pastored our former church) for 13 years. He struggled with addiction and I struggled with what to do as his wife. I understand the reasons why ministry leaders hide the truth. So often the ministry is their livelihood. This makes transparency very risky. I’m encouraged to hear that you are modeling an honest and open approach. May God bless you for your humility.