Justin and his wife Trisha know all too well the dangers of settling for an ordinary marriage. Their own failure to recognize the warning signs almost resulted in the end of their marriage, their family, and their ministry.
Justin and Trisha are bloggers, authors, speakers and founders of RefineUs Ministries. Sharing their story of pain, loss and redemption, RefineUs is igniting a movement to build healthy marriages and families.
They are the co-authors of their first book, Beyond Ordinary: When a Good Marriage Just Isn’t Good Enough, published by Tyndale House Publishers.
I believe that through this post you will be challenged and encouraged to strive of an extraordinary marriage.
When Trisha and I first got married and entered ministry in 1995, I prided myself on being a person that was accountable. I was accountable in my choices: I wouldn’t counsel with a woman behind a closed office door; I wouldn’t give a teenage girl a ride home from church without another person in the car. I wouldn’t do lunch with a female without my wife or another male staff member. At all costs I wanted to be accountable.
When we started Genesis Church in 2002, I knew that accountability would be of utmost importance. I sought out a guy in our core group and asked him if we could meet each Wednesday morning to “hold each other accountable.” As a church planter, I had a church planting coach. He and I would meet every Thursday morning and he would ask me questions about my relationship with God. He would ask me questions about my marriage, my struggles, my weaknesses. He wanted to hold me accountable. Eventually I had a group of Elders I met with once a month who were the spiritual leaders of our church, and I was accountable to them.
So with all of these boundaries and all of these safe guards and all of these great leaders and friends holding me accountable how could I ever be unfaithful to God and my wife? That’s not possible right? But I was unfaithful, despite all of my accountability.
ACCOUNTABILITY CAN BE USELESS
Accountability is only as valuable as the transparency you and I offer in the context of that accountability. I was just transparent 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.
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.
Andy Stanley said, “We fear the consequences of confession because we have yet to realize the consequences of concealment.”
I think that’s why James says in 5:16, “ Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
We don’t talk about the “healing” type of confession in the Church very often. In fact, we have built a religious system that tries to find healing through hiding our sins, not confessing them. The sins we do confess are safe sins: bitterness, jealousy, materialism, selfishness.
For years, I forfeited the healing that God longed to bring to my heart not because I didn’t confess my sins to Him; but because I refused to confess them to anyone else.
Temptation loses its power when we confess.
Sin loses its ability to keep us fractured when we confess.
Addictions lose the control they have in our lives when we confess.
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 leaving 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 about our relationship with God.
3. 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.
God knew that we would need two things to live in freedom in this life: the burden-bearing love of one another and the power of God through prayer. Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other…so that you may be healed.
Will living this way be easy? No. Will it be worth it? More than you could ever imagine.