How to Hold People Accountable, but Not Lose the Relationship
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“But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”- Romans 14:10
Holding people accountable for their actions is a lost art these days. People can do rude things, say offensive things, or participate in activities that are damaging and they are allowed to do it.
All too often, the reason why they are allowed to do what they want, when they want, is because people are afraid of making enemies or coming off as judgmental. Then, the people unwilling to hold others accountable, begin to grow bitter, angry, and frustrated because they feel powerless. They want to say something, but their relationships are far more important than helping someone work on transforming their behavior.
I am writing to give some ideas to help hold people accountable, but avoid losing relationships or coming off like a jerk.
1) GIVE GRACE: Grace is something we love to accept, but have a hard time giving. When people are making poor choices or doing things that have caused damage to you or another, they need to know, but they also need to know that they are being approached by someone who is flawed like they are. We need to acknowledge the fact that we can do the same hurtful things to, but because we are on the outside looking in, it’s easier for us to recognize the poor actions. Allow yourself to reflect on your faults before approaching the person in their mistakes. Then, allow for grace to overtake the conversation, which will hopefully lead to correction on both your parts since you recognize the things you need to work on as well.
2) PRACTICE HUMILITY: We will often jump to the thought of, “HOW DARE THEY! I can’t believe they would be like this. I am going to give them a piece of my mind and tell them off!” Well, the arrogance that you deserve to be the judge will ruin your relationship quicker than I can type. When you humble yourself enough to recognize that you don’t deserve to have an apology, nor do you deserve to get an answer, but you definitely deserve to have someone point out your mistakes when you make them, then it will help you come in to the conversation peacefully. Your humility will go a long way and people will respect a peaceful conversation as opposed to an attack “to put them in their place”. Grace and humility go hand in hand.
3) CARE MORE ABOUT THEM THAN YOUR RELATIONSHIP: It is possible that we are afraid to lose a relationship because we don’t want to lose a friend or connection. It is a shot to our ego or list of friends on Facebook. However, if we care about the person and their relationship with others or their Creator, then we will be willing to step in and hold them accountable. Our relationships are important, but the character and integrity of those around us who represent Christ should be more important. We want to make sure their actions do not hinder the gospel nor hinder their ability to represent the gospel. If they are a follower of Christ, accountability is of the utmost importance. If they are not, then we need to be aware of the fact that people need to grow. This might mean they need people to address their issues using the first two actions and helping them think about becoming something new.
Holding people accountable is never easy. It is risky, but in the end, you will be in a better state of mind because you took action and didn’t allow their actions to consume you. You can move on. If they choose to heed to your words, then great, you both win. If they choose to get mad, brush you off, or deny even doing anything, then you can walk away knowing you did what you were supposed to do. “Pride comes before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18) is a great piece of scripture to hold on to when people respond in such a way.
We are all broken and flawed, which means we all have aspects of our character or personality that need to be worked on. We need others in our lives to help address those issues. We need to be humble enough to accept words of repair.
We have all hurt someone in our lives, whether intentionally or unintentionally, which means we have also been hurt. We need be willing to apologize and be held accountable, just as quick as we are ready to hold others accountable. Be willing to listen, forgive, and reconcile the relationship.
May we find peace in accountability. May we find reconciliation in our broken relationships. May we be a part of helping others become restored and repaired through Christ.
Peace and blessings friends.
Question: Is accountability an action you enjoy or flee from?