Dr. Mark Bailey, former president of Dallas Theological Seminary, spoke of the need for accountability in the Christian life. "It's like making a stew..." he began to illustrate. “Each of us has our own recipe. We add a little here. We add a little there. We season the stew to our liking. We get ahead of ourselves and think our stew is good. The problem is we haven’t exposed it to the opinions of others.” He closed his illustration by claiming you have to have someone close enough to smell and taste your stew—even more so, someone who won’t lie about it!
Life, like cooking, has never been an exact science. We mix in decisions, regrets, missed opportunities, laughs, tears and everything in-between, hoping that the result turns out to be halfway desirable. Yet it often takes an unbiased third party who speaks the truth in love to recognize that our life may have gotten a little off track.
My husband describes me as an emotional cook. I pour my heart and soul into what I’m creating, and I cling to every slurp, burp, and desire for seconds as approval of a job well done. Unluckily, my husband’s palate does not always pair well with my cooking style and that’s when things get messy. We have happily made it through the wear and tear of marital taste testing but not without a few battle scars.
It's difficult to hear that my secret sauce is not a home run; however, it is important to hear. Otherwise, how would I know what I need to correct? These conversations between my husband and me have not always been easy. They sting. A lot. We shy away from this level of accountability within the body of Christ because, let’s face it, it stings. To call and confront someone's shortcomings is not easy for the taste tester or the chef.
The level of vulnerability required to allow someone to be honest with you is intimidating. However, God has set forth a pattern in His Word that requires us to engage in uncomfortable transparency.
2 Timothy 2:23-26 tells us that we are to offer gentle correction that steers us towards the truth.
Hebrews 10:24 demonstrates that we should walk close enough to one another that we can spur one another on to good works.
1 Corinthians 5 tells us to judge the immoral brother among you. Not for his ill will, but so that he can be reconciled.
Colossians 3:13 tells us to bear with one another and forgive one another.
In each of these exhortations, there is a level of intimacy required that allows for sacred vulnerability to occur. This is the complexity of the community of believers. We are meant to provide each other with encouragement AND we are called to be each other’s taste testers. We forge on despite the difficulties that come from letting others see our imperfections—the unkept bits of our life that alter our stew. When we take this countercultural step of letting people in, we find that vulnerability is worth the work of walking in brotherly love.