DREAM HOME – MOVING INTO YOUR ULTIMATE DWELLING PLACE
August 25, 1996
Have you ever thumbed through The Yellow Pages and noticed all of the repair services that are available? It is amazing. There are companies that will fix everything from drains to dishwashers, from aquariums to garage door openers, from fences to you name it. I thought that I would just read a sampling of ads for repair services and see what they say about themselves. Listen. One company writes, “Fast, dependable service. Why wait? Sixty minute service available, seven days a week.” Does that fire you up, or what? Another says, “Twenty-four hour emergency service available. Our service is built on integrity and grown on reliability.” I’ll give the numbers out after the service, if you would like them. This one says, “We give service, not excuses.” The last one. “We fix it right the first time.”
Let’s face it. It is very comforting to know that 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a repair man is available to fix almost anything that goes wrong in our dwelling place. Take, for example, the air conditioner that broke in our home two weeks ago. You see the air stopped blowing in the Young household and that is not a pretty picture in the middle of August. My lovely wife, Lisa, picked up the phone and called a repair service and talked to a man by the name of Willis. In two hours, this reliable, dependable repairman was at our home working on our air conditioner. After he had been working for awhile, Lisa and I called to Willis and asked how things were looking. Willis’ reply was the kind of reply that sends cold chills up and down the spine of homeowners, even in summer. He said, “It doesn’t look very good.” And sure enough when he gave me the bill I readily agreed with him. Willis explained that our motor had burned up. He said we had a choice. We could get the motor repaired, which he could do or we could make it through the rest of the hot, humid dog days of summer with no air conditioning. Of course, we had him fix the air conditioner. He fixed it well.
When I think back on that episode, I am so happy and so thrilled that a guy like Willis was available. Lisa and I know zero about air conditioners. All we were able to tell him was that something was wrong. However, he was a reliable, trusted repairman who pinpointed our problem and fixed it.
Listen very carefully. The Bible says that God desires all of us to have reliable, trusted relational repairmen and women available in our lives to pinpoint problems and fix them. This concept has a sturdy Biblical foundation and is summarized in on all encompassing term, accountability. Accountability. What is accountability? Accountability is answering the hard questions. Accountability is opening up the floor plan of your life to a few close confidants who will move along side of you and encourage you and challenge you and build you up and question you. Accountability is one of the most misused and misinterpreted and misunderstood words in our vocabulary. Accountability is not criticism. It is not cutting someone to shreds.
I know a lot of people who are in the extremist group that I refer to as accountability terrorists. You might know them. They think the whole world should be accountable to them and in a very clandestine fashion they sneak around your life and mine and detonate bombs of negativism. They blow holes in people’s hearts and you have to call in the paramedics to pick up the pieces. That is not accountability. Accountability terrorists have the gift of criticism. They hurt more than they help. That is not what the Bible talks about. That is not what God desires for your life and mine regarding accountability.
Most of us have a list of trusted, reliable repairmen to assist us with repairs around our apartments, condominiums or homes. God is just saying that He wants us to do the same thing in our relational world. Talk to a President or a CEO or a coach who make direct decisions and they will tell you the value of using Board Members, teams or their staff. These folks do not tell the leader how to do the job, they collect data and they help evaluate his or her thinking and then they give the leader the opportunity to make the final decision. A wise leader is not going to think about making a decision in a Lone Ranger type fashion. Frankly, I cannot thank the Board and the teams of the Fellowship of Las Colinas enough for giving me advice and input on the decisions that we make as a church. If I didn’t use these individuals as sounding boards to give me counsel and guidance, I would have messed up what God wanted to do for this church a long, long time ago.
Chuck Swindoll in his classic book, LIVING ABOVE THE LEVEL OF MEDIOCRITY, says that those individuals who are accountable usually have certain qualities operative in their lives. He says that they are vulnerable people. They are willing to be corrected. He says that they are available. They can be interrupted. They are not concerned about hiding this activity or trying to cover up that. He says that they are teachable. They have an openness, a willingness to learn. He says that the final quality is, they are honorable. They are men and women of integrity who speak the truth in love. After reading that list, no wonder most of us are scared of accountability. Our fragile egos can’t stand it. Prima Donna types run from it. They say, “No one is going to open up the door of my life and look into my heart and really see my motivations. No way. No way.” Again, let me rush to say, accountability does not give the public carte blanc access into your life and mine. I am talking about a few trusted, loyal confidants who love you. You see, accountability must flow out of the context of love. It is not some legalistic, pessimistic, nail-biting, teeth-grinding experience. It is love-fueled and love-based.
Some of you are saying that it sounds fine and cool but you are a Type A personality, a point man, a point woman, a leader and don’t need to do this. I want to do a quick fly-over of the Old Testament and New Testament and give you some Biblical examples of strong willed Type A personalities who were accountable, who had relational repairmen and women operative in their lives. Look at the Old Testament, for example. Lot was accountable to Abraham. When Lot backed away from this relationship, he sunk into the mire of Sodom. Joseph was accountable to Potipher, even though he was tempted and enticed day in and day out by Miss Palestine 500 BC, Potipher’s wife. David was accountable to the prophet Nathan. Nehemiah, who studied about a month ago regarding leadership, was accountable to King Artaxerxes. In the New Testament, Jesus came to the earth accountable to the Father. He chose the twelve disciples. They were accountable to Him. When He passed the torch of ministry to the disciples, they were accountable to each other. John Mark was accountable to Paul and Barnabas. And the list goes on and on. So think about it. Consider this. If it benefited individuals in the Bible, surely it can benefit your life and mine. Accountability.
I want to talk to you about the rationale and the role of repairmen and women in your life. Don’t turn me off. Have an open mind because God wants all of us to take it to the next level. He wants us to tweak the dial. He wants us to turn the volume up on our spiritual development. Without accountability, spiritual development will never happen the way God wants it to occur.
Relational repairmen help me to keep my house in good working order. Think about it.
A close friend of mine that I knew in Houston, TX was from the mountains of western North Carolina. His name was Jimmy Fender. Jimmy was the best repairman I have ever seen in my life. He was like a Picasso with a Phillips’ head screwdriver. The guy was unbelievable. He would say things like this while eating lunch or dinner at our home. “Ed, I don’t mean to butt in but you got a problem right over there. See it. You got a serious problem, you and Lisa.” He asked me if we had a Phillips’ head and I, in turn, asked Lisa. And the guy would fix this problem after that problem. He would say, “Whoever put this system in didn’t know what they were doing. That job is bad.” I will never forget Jimmy Fender. I love Jimmy. He was a friend who was close enough to help us maintain our home out of the kindness of his heart.
I think it is time for you and for me to call in some Jimmy Fenders in the relational realm of life. A home presents a constant maintenance battle. You don’t just sit back and say everything is running great and will be fine for the next 10 or 15 years. No problem, autopilot. It doesn’t work that way. The Bible says in Proverbs 27:19, “A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.” A mirror reflects only what is skin deep. But what Ed is like, what Roy is really like, what Lisa is really like is shown by the kind of friends he or she chooses. In other words, we have to take the initiative to choose our friends. If you have a problem with a drain in your residence, you don’t just sit there and say, “I hope the repairman finds me. I will just sit here. Surely, he will come knocking at my door one day and say he heard I had a drain problem.” How ludicrous is that? We would run to the phone, and call for help. So we have to take initiative. We have to take those relational risks because it will help us with maintenance plan.
Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” The work walks denotes a continuous action. Again, we want repairmen and women who built up a history of working on our dwelling place. Can you call the wrong repair company? You better believe it. I can tell you some horror stories and so can you.
I have the opportunity to speak to a lot of young people. Every time I talk to young people I always hit on one theme. Make sure you connect with Christian people. Make sure you seek them out. Make sure who your friends are, who you date, who you hang with, who you do things with socially. This is true for the 17 year old, the 27 year old, also for the 37, 47, 57, 67 year old. You talk to my friends, I talk to your friends. I don’t even have to know you. I can tell the kind of person you are by the friends you choose. Many wonder why their life is so fouled up and they feel so broken inside. They might look at their closest friends. Could they be companions of fools?
Proverbs 15:31-33 says, “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke….” We have got to listen for it. Remember Willis? Lisa and I were listening. “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.” Have you ever ignored discipline. You kind of have that independent streak going. Don’t let the maverick in you reign supreme. Don’t make those Lone Ranger decisions. You will be in major league trouble. It concludes, “The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.”
Now if you have a highlighter or a pencil, circle a couple of words under this first section because these are the kind of features that God wants in your life and mine. Look back at Proverbs 13:20. Circle the word wise. Now in verse 31 of Proverbs 15, circle the world life-giving. In verse 32, circle the word understanding. And in verse 33, circle the word humility. Check this out. These are the features that God wants us to have when we use reliable, trusted relational repairmen and women. We will be wise. We will be life-giving. We will be understanding and we will have and reflect humility. The rationale behind relational repairmen or women.
Now let’s shift gears and talk about the role of relational repairmen or women. What is their role? Relational repair people allow me to see the repairs that need to be made in my dwelling place. They give me a panoramic view of the floor plan. You see, one set of eyes can’t really do it. Do you realize if you go into a house or an office building for three weeks and you see some things that are broken and you don’t deal with the broken stuff, after that time period, you kind of forget that they are there. Usually someone will come in from the outside and say, “That’s broken. That doesn’t look good. That is ugly. That doesn’t really fit the color scheme.” That is the picture here. The role of relational repairmen and women would include saying, “This relationship in your life is unhealthy. This character quality is something you may need to work on.”
Proverbs 27:17. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” The relational repairmen and women use tools to sharpen you. One of the tools is the word of God. Another one is prayer. Another one is relationships. Let’s complete the following sentences. As iron sharpens iron, so one homemaker sharpens another. As iron sharpens iron, so one doctor sharpens another. As iron sharpens iron, so one salesman sharpens another. As iron sharpens iron, so one dentist sharpens another – no pun intended.
Proverbs 24:26. “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” I love to kiss my wife. Lisa is coming in from Houston and she will be at our 11 o’clock service. We went to Houston for a wedding thing this weekend. I have not kissed her for about 24 hours. I cannot wait to see her and I will kiss her right out there in the lobby. I love to kiss my wife. I desire kisses from her. If I am accountable, if I am truly being the man that God wants me to be, I will desire honest answers. But I can’t get answers unless I first of all question those people who are close to me. In other words, I have got to say, “How am I doing in this area? What are some good things? What are some bad things?” Then when I engage them by asking questions, they give me answers out of love, not out of criticism. When I hear this stuff and process it, then I am able to make changes. Christianity is not a solo sport. It is a team effort.
Proverbs 27:6-7 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” It hurts to be bruised by a friend but he or she can be trusted. See the word friend? Again I say, limit accountability to those who love you for who you are not what you are. “But an enemy multiplies kisses.” I am always skeptical about people who come up to me and say I am great at this, great at that. You need to be skeptical about people like that too. It is great to hear compliments. But, hey.
Speaking of repair work, I want to tell you a very embarrassing story about my life. Do not laugh too loudly or shake your head in disgust. This is what happened six years ago. I had this lawn mower. I was mowing the lawn. A friend of mine who knew a lot about repair work, a lot about lawn mowers walked by my house. He said, “Ed, when was the last time you changed the oil in that lawn mower?” I said, “Lee, I’ve had this lawn mower about three years. About three years ago.” He said, “Ed, you are going to burn the engine up if you don’t change the oil. Do you know how to change the oil?” I assured him I did. I went to K-Mart and bought some oil. I tried to find some kind of valve and couldn’t. To myself I said, “I guess you change the lawn mower oil by turning the lawn mower upside down.” So I opened up the top of the oil reservoir and turned the lawn mower upside down. The oil began to dribble out. Well it wasn’t happening very rapidly so I went in and called up my friend Lee and told him I was trying to change the oil and needed help. Here is Lee walking down the street and he sees me with the lawn mower upside down, shaking it. When he sees this, he begins laughing so hard, he literally falls on the ground.
Here is the principle. If we try to fix everything ourselves, it will turn our lives upside down. Now there are some things we can fix by ourselves. You know, we can change light bulbs, we can mow the lawn. We can even change the oil in the lawn mower but there are some big time things that we can’t fix alone. We cannot become Mr. or Mrs. or Miss Fix-It. We have got to let the experts come in, the trusted, reliable relational repairmen and women to pinpoint problems and fix them.
I know what some of you are saying right now. Boy, there sure is some good stuff in Proverbs on accountability. My best friend needs to hear that. I might buy a tape this week. Or some are saying, my husband needs to hear this. Just for a couple of moments, forget about your neighbor’s house and think about your house. Think about your life. Think about your relationship with God because I want to ask you three in your face questions about accountability. When I ask these questions I am going to ask them to myself and I want you to ask them to yourself. Don’t blurt out the answer. Answer silently.
One. Do you have someone in your life who is not a family member to whom you are personally and regularly accountable? Does this person have access to your life? Does this person have your private phone number? Does this person pretty much know you whereabouts? Some of you are saying, no, I don’t have anybody like that in my life. Now, I want you to take the relational repairman or woman challenge. I want you to pray for God to bring in a relational repair person to you. Chances are, this man or this woman is right here at the Fellowship of Las Colinas. If you will pray for them, choose them, take the initiative, God will knit your spirits together and out of this friendship and relationship will grow an accountability experience. Make sure this person has a dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ. Don’t let this person be someone who just says he or she is a Christian, pasteurized, homogenized, baptized. No, no, no. I mean somebody who is really growing, really developing in the Christian life. Also make sure this person is a member of the same sex. Make sure this person can keep a secret.
You see, if you choose the wrong person, you can end up like the Biblical bodybuilder, Samson. Remember him? God said, “Samson, hang out with My people.” Samson, arguably was one of the most talented me to ever walk the planet next to Jesus Christ. He was handsome, articulate, smart, strong. But Samson hung out with the wrong people. Study his life in the book of Judges, hung out with the wrong people. Because he was with the wrong people, he ended up going to the wrong places. Then he ended up breaking God’s principles for his life. Wrong people, wrong places, wrong principles. Samson blew it because he didn’t have relational repair people in his life to help him. He said that he knew it all.
Two. Do you know the dangers of no accountability? Do you know the blind spots? Do you know what can happen to your house if it goes neglected? Do you know what could happen if this unhealthy habit is never checked or discussed? Do you know the dangers, the dangers of no accountability?
Three. When was the last time you sat down with your relational repair group, just a couple of people, and gave an account for those personal areas of your life? I am talking about a financial account of where you are. Do you have someone you can talk to before you make a sizable purchase? I do. Do you have someone you can talk with regarding your giving record at this church, or another church? How about your relationships? Do you share the struggles you are going through with your children or maybe your spouse or perhaps at work? How about the spiritual questions? You see, when this is operative, there is going to be growth.
So, isn’t it about time you take out God’s yellow pages and pray and ask God to bring a man or a woman into your life who will be your accountability buddy. When you do, they will be persons who can challenge you to take it to the next level concerning your dream home.