While I was in Bible college, I had a full time job working for ADT. I didn’t do anything cool like installing or fixing alarms. I worked in two of their call centers. The second one was better in that I was no longer taking phone calls. I worked in a different department. But the first one provided me the opportunity to service customers who were angry at me for problems I did not cause. Which brings up a side note: don’t mistreat customer service workers for problems you experience. They almost never have anything to do with it.
No matter how rude customers got, I couldn’t be rude back to them. It wasn’t worth it. Quality Assurance could be randomly recording my interaction. Best case, I would lose my monthly bonus if I was caught being rude; worst case, I could be fired. It depended on the severity. Quality Assurance was mostly random and secret, so you never knew when they would be listening. If you cared about your job and your bonus (and I cared about both), you had to always be on your game.
After a while, I became friends with a few of the Quality Assurance people. I had interviewed for an open position in that department and met several of them, and then we continued talking. This game me an “in.” All of a sudden, I started getting the heads up when QA was going to be recording me. One of my friends would walk by and say something to the effect of, “We started recording your team today. We haven’t recorded you yet, but we will in the next hour.” And you know what? That was the most polite, professional hour of taking phone calls I had the entire day. I knew I was being observed, so I followed every rule in the handbook. And I would get 100% on my QA results.
I knew I would be held accountable for my phone calls between those moments and the next hour or so. Knowing I was being held accountable led to a more careful approach, resulting in a higher performance. Accountability works in this way. If I allow you to hold me accountable to not doing something, and I know you’re going to ask me about it, I’m much more likely to not do that thing. And I’m more likely to do something if I know someone is counting on me to do it or is expecting me to get it done. We ought to be in relationships where we are holding each other accountable to living worthy of Christ. We should be running quality assurance on ourselves and each other as Christians.
Sadly, we’ve moved from accountability and iron sharpening iron to an, “only God can judge me” mentality, which incidentally is absolutely without Biblical merit. It’s one of those cop out lies that is born out of cherry-picking reading without studying the Word. But that’s a topic for another day. In James 5:16, it says to confess your faults one to another. Now, that doesn’t mean to confess for the forgiveness of sins. We go to God for that. But we go to each other for accountability and encouragement. When was the last time you went to someone and said, “hey, I’m really struggling with this. I need to quit. Can you hold me accountable to that?” Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” It will include friction. Sparks may fly. Things may heat up. But James is saying, “go to each other. Confess your sins. Hold each other accountable.”