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How One Accountability Friendship Came About

Posted on March 23, 2010

(My blog readers, God has heard your prayers for me in an amazing way, but why should I be surprised!  A golf ball size tumor was successfully removed from my brain just last week, and here I am already writing again after just experiencing multiple life-threatening brain seizures.  Our Lord is truly a God of miracles who rescues those who love and serve him.  Please know how so very grateful that I am for your sacrifices of prayer. Lord, now i ask that you bring more special favor and peace to my brothers who read my blogs)

My recent blog Tight Buds Can Prevent Suicides was about how every man needs to be in soulful bonds with one or two other men.  But how can such a brotherhood be formed even when a man deeply recognizes his need for a true accountability friend(s) in order to help him live out the powerful, transformed life that God intends for him?

There is no question that God wants you to have deep-spirited friendships, but how it comes about for you will be a little different than for other guys.  As just one illustration, Clay Campbell, one of my Men Who Win partners, and his accountability friend-confidant, Kevin Penick, tell how God brought the two of them together. 

In the own words of Clay and Kevin:

(CLAY): I understood the importance of accountability friendships,  but I was just reluctant to do it; because I had a lot of acquaintances but sadly,  no close friends. I wasn't so sure I'd want to just open up and tell somebody everything.
 I started to pray about it. I did. When Sunday morning rolled around, I went up to my pastor and said that I was seeking an accountability partner.  He said he did know of someone that could be good for me to ask.  The pastor said he would pray about it and get back to me.
 In a few days my pastor said to me, "Why don't you call a guy named Kevin Penick."  I only knew Kevin casually, but I called him.  Kevin and I met. I explained what an accountability friend was. I showed him a list of some questions for each man to ask the other. Kevin said he'd pray about it.   A couple days later, I got an email, and Kevin said OK.
 We started meeting weekly; praying, talking, horseback riding, working on my computer that was giving me fits.  We went to out with our spouses out to eat, and saw a funny play,  we read books that we both felt  were good for us to read, and we went out to eat breakfast a lot.  In fact, we just did this morning, and we prayed and ate and talked and talked.
I told Kevin I was so very glad that we had cultivated our close friendship, and he said he felt mutually the same. It's been four or five years now; and we talk regularly about our health, our marriages, our money and the lack of it at times, and what to do with it when we have plenty.  We talk about spiritual things, church, our kids, our attitudes, our work and about the really lousy job some of our politicians are doing.
I mainly consider Kevin a close friend that I can tell anything, and I know he can tell me anything, and we have a trust factor there. I went through some bad times there mentally when one of my children was off track.   We both have had heart attacks. We both had children that gotten married; we both have had arguments with our children and with our wives. We share it all. We both help each other get through some tough times, pray for each other, and we laugh and praise God a lot.  God obviously keeps answering all those prayers we're both praying.

(KEVIN):  My wife and I moved some in some overlapping social circles with the Campbells, and I had seen him around church, but that was about it. We didn't really seem to have very much in common. But several times Clay had expressed his desire to start a men's ministry or men's accountability program at church but had not managed to stir up any interest.
 Years earlier, I had met Gary Chester Morse and was familiar with his ideas about men holding each other accountable. I had even been to a men's retreat where we partnered up and asked each other a list of intimate questions with the goal of learning to "get real" and "drop the mask" with a brother. I'm pretty open, but I'm not a very "touchy-feely" kind of guy, and I've never been very interested in this "accountability partner" stuff.  So, when Clay approached me about being his "accountability partner", I was a little reluctant. I didn't see that we had very much in common, and I didn't especially want someone meddling in my personal business.  Like I said, I not into that touchy-feely stuff.
On the other hand, I've long believed that I have the spiritual gift of discernment and I could tell (at least in this matter) that Clay's heart was pure and that his desire was sincere.  So when he approached me about it, I couldn't bring myself to turn him down. I just hoped that it was one of those things that would run its course and fizzle out.
Thanks to Clay's persistence, this accountability thing has worked. We still get together, and there's not much that we don't know about each other - good and bad. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses. We've shared joys and sorrows and lots of frustrations and failures. And we've prayed for each other - a lot. Outside of our love for the Lord, some shared values, and our friendship, we still don't have a lot in common. We have different interests, our families are different, our backgrounds are different, we listen to different music, and even some of our theology is different! But with all that, we love each other, appreciate each other, and are able to help and encourage one another.
 It has been a privilege and a joy to have Clay as a friend and "partner".  (And just to make sure we "keep it real", we still drag out that list of questions once in a while for a little "no stone unturned" assessment. Rule one - no lies. Rule two - no judging.)

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