Friday, August 11, 2006

Personal Accountability

I have been dealing a lot lately with some issues that have come up amongst my friends. As a problem solver and empathetic/sympathetic/pathetic (haha) listener I get the “joy” of being a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes that is more than welcome, sometimes it is not. I want my friends and other people I love to be happy and I do like to help people but sometimes when it becomes obvious that my “help” is not going to solve a problem I get a bit frustrated.

So, all of these requests for help got me to thinking about accountability and what that word actually means. I think I first started hearing and understanding it as an important part of my life in Christian communities in college. We had “accountability groups”. These were groups of friends who would get together and talk about struggles and hold one another accountable for actions during a time in life when it is easy to get lost. It generally became a good time to get together and giggle but there were times of understanding and support as well. I came to depend on those chats.

At a meeting on Monday of the self appointed leadership of the Bible study I am now in the word accountability came up multiple times. At first I really agreed – what this group needs is accountability to one another, but then I started thinking about the conversations I have had the past months and I got to thinking that, no – it isn’t accountability to others that is missing – it is actually accountability to ourselves.

I believe that a strong and supportive Christian community is crucial to anyone’s walk but I think that perhaps we have grown to count too much on it. In this society there is the tendency to blame anyone but ourselves; it’s the government, or our parents or my neighbor; we do anything but point the finger at ourselves. I believe what needs to be done more often is take a deep look at ourselves to see what we are doing to create the problems around us and what we can do to change that. If I am feeling as though I am not connected what can I do to feel the connection again? If I am feeling as though the leadership around me is changing and I am no longer part of it what can I do to step up and become a large part of the leadership again or is that even something I want to do? Who is it that I have issues with? Have I talked to that person about it? Is there a solution to what makes me feel uncomfortable or unloved in a situation? Is it a particular person or is it me? Am I the one allowing myself to feel as though I am slipping through the cracks? If I took the time and effort to spend time and connect with people would that change? Have I spent so much time dwelling on what is bothering me that I have neglected the other important part of a relationship (which I often remind people IS a two way street) and withdrawn? Is that an appropriate response? If it isn’t what can I do to change my response? What action steps can I make to change something within myself or within my own actions to make things better?

So, as I do when processing these things I asked myself, what I could do to improve situations around me – what steps can I take to solve my own problems or what is my part in creating some of the problems I am hearing about? Well, part of that is to remind my friends who come to me, about the fact that I love them, because I do, each one of them, more than they probably know, and to admit to them that I have failed in the past months. I have added to some of the problems I am sure. For one thing, I like to drink alcohol. I am not going to hide that. At times I have actually had TOO much to drink – I know, scandalous – don’t tell mom and dad. These times are much fewer and father between (I can probably count them on one hand or a hand and a half for my entire life) than the times when I drink in moderation but there are times. So for those of you who have been made uncomfortable by the fact that I like to have a few beers while camping or at a bbq or anywhere else that I might like a drink or two, I apologize for that. I have done what I can since this realization to keep an eye on it.

Let’s see, what else. Oh yeah, there are some people in my life that I love but maybe don’t necessarily like. There are also A LOT of people in my life. So sometimes I don’t invite everyone to everything or spend as much time with those people as I might with someone else. So I am being more aware of this and attempting to talk to those people even when maybe I would rather spend time with someone else.

I know I have some more soul searching to do in the next few weeks before the leadership team meets again but for now that is all I have. I guess it is a step in the right direction.

So my challenge to those of you who are members of YAG and even those who are not is just to say look inside of yourself when looking at things around you that are bothering you and ask yourself first and foremost what is my role in creating this problem because just like a relationship I strongly believe it takes two to create problems. Stop blaming everyone else and hold yourself accountable. God gave us consciences for a reason. We are intended to know right from wrong and to act on it. I challenge you to find two areas as I have where you can take some real and personal steps toward fixing a problem in your life. (Good luck and let me know how it goes.) But then once you do that, go to the person who might also play a role in it, whether it be me or your parents or your coworker or your pastor or some other peson in your life and talk to them about the situation. But remember you can’t see the speck in your neighbor’s eye nearly as well without taking the plank out of your own first.


Nathan Novak said...

Good points KT. Just remember, though, that it's tough to please everybody all the time. At a certain level you have to be comfortable with yourself and your choices, and if those choices make others uncomfortable then that's not necessarily your fault, or problem, or something that needs to be addressed.

If everyone did everything in a manner that made everyone else 100% comfortable, then that's a world I personally would find exceptionally boring.

In summary - pass the bucket. Time for another beer. :-)

Anonymous said...

Can't say I totally agree with that comment by nathan novak. If I'm doing something (like drinking because that's what has been talked about) and it's causing someone else to stumble, then I need to put my own desires aside and put theirs above my own. Or like Kristin said I'm adding to their troubles. My hat is off to you Kristin. Life needs more selfless people. Most think, "Its all about me. As long as I'm comfortable and happy with what I'm doing. That's all that matters." I think a world with more people thinking of others instead of themselves would be a much better place.

Erica said...

Ok, I have to weigh in on this one. Its true that you should try to be sensitive to others, but it is also impossible to please everyone. I say try your best and try to stop worrying about it. Which is definitely easier said than done, especially with YAG. I got physically sick worrying about everyone in YAG and how people's feelings were apparently being hurt. Its hard to know how to remedy their hurt feelings if they aren't sharing with you truly why their feelings are hurt (even after you ask) we are left to guess. Or go to the issues meeting on Monday... Hopefully this meeting will help clear the air for people so that we can move on to being a supportive community instead of a dysfunctional one.