Accountability In Leadership Minister Webinar
This webinar considers the call to stewardship within the ministry (Titus 1:7), highlighting some common areas of struggle for those in leadership positions and the impact these struggles can have. It discusses the work of the 360 Wellness accountability effort and lays out conversations and resources which can help build a culture of healthy accountability in our lives as ministers and wives.
Welcome, thanks for joining us this evening, for our talk on Accountability in Leadership. And, it might not be a talk, it might, I don’t know what your thoughts are as you think about this talk or how you approach it. It’s definitely a talk that can be a little bit weighty as we look into it, but it’s also an opportunity, I think, that can be really encouraging, and we can be thankful for the opportunity just to have this conversation.
And so, as I said before, we’re joined by elder brothers, Brad Strahm and Steve Ringger, and I’ll let them brothers, if you would just do a brief introduction to yourselves, your years in the ministry and the eldership and, your interest in this talk, in this topic. That would be great. And then we will go ahead and get into it.
Sounds good. You want me to go first, Brad? Yes, please do. Okay. Greetings to all of you. I am, I guess the former elder at Bluffton North. I just retired yesterday. And, just to be clear, that wasn’t my method of coping with the stress of the position. It was a plan. But I was in the ministry for 33 and a half years, 13 and a half as the elder as part of that 33 and a half.
When I was put in we had three boys and they were ages 11, 9, and 6. And, I was just turned 37. And, it was a stretch. It was really a strain to get settled in to the position of being in leadership and still having a family, a day job. I’m a CPA, so I was pretty involved and I’d say the months from December through April were pretty brutal at times, but God was faithful to help me out.
There was a good verse that I often referred to, and it was Luke 10:40 and if you’re familiar with tax forms at all, that should ring a bell. And it’s about Martha being cumbered with much serving. And so that was something that was at the forefront during those difficult months. But, so my interest, in 360 Wellness, I’m gonna get into that a little bit in the history and where it came from. So, glad to be involved, glad to be a part of the program.
Thanks, Steve. Brad, why don’t you go ahead and share just a little bit from your background too. Sure. So, my wife is Michelle and we have three children, 27, 24, and 20. And, I’ve served in the ministry for about 12 years and about seven years as an elder. And, my day job is more in the engineering and scientific realm. And, really what I think interests me about this is just knowing myself and some of the things, experiences that I’ve had that I’ve had to work through. It gives me a little bit of a passion that other people can work through some of those same things or whatever those things are that they face.
Appreciate that and thankful that each of you take time tonight to join us and to walk into this topic. Just as a theme verse, maybe to think about or to begin to gather our mind around, Paul’s instruction to Titus and his role there in Crete? He mentions this when he’s speaking about a bishop, but I think you could extend it to church leadership. He says the Bishop must be blameless as the steward of God, and you have instantly this idea of stewardship being brought into the mix. And a steward is called to be accountable for their actions. It’s not their goods or their services, they are stewarding somebody else’s. And you get a sense here of Paul alluding that our life, our ministry, the things that we do, we are to be a steward of that, a faithful steward of that to God.
Now that can be, as I said earlier, I think an intimidating thing. But it also, I hope, can be a little bit of an encouraging thing. And, brothers, just if you have any thoughts on this verse or just introductory thoughts as you think about accountability and what is accountability and why should we talk about accountability, I appreciate that as you just walk into that as we get started here.
Brad, anything on top of your mind? Well, so in thinking about things that could potentially bring stress, when I read this verse, it brings a little bit of tension to understand accountability to God, to His Word, but then extending into accountability to one another, to my family. And so it brings tension with that. And, often, when we’re called into this work, it seems like we’re often given tasks or jobs to do that are outside of what we’re comfortable with. That’s where I’m at tonight. And so that brings the tension and potential stressors as well.
Yeah, I would agree with that. The verse does create some tension in the fact of calling us to that high standard of blameless and that we are stewards of God and we recognize the church. Christ died for that church, for the church in Acts 20:28. It talks about that. And, so it is a huge responsibility and too often, I look at it with maybe more fear instead of more faith. And, so just this whole effort of 360 Wellness has helped, and continues to help me work through some of those tensions and land on the faith part and have the support and encouragement that I need. It is a good work and we’re out of our comfort zone most of the time.
I really appreciate that lens that you shared there, Steve. This idea that we can go into this and we can be fearful or we can have faith and it’s not as easy, I think, as just flipping a switch from one to the other. But it is a good heart check to how do we approach that? Just in the book before this? I think it is, Paul says to Timothy, he’s not giving us the spirit of fear, but of love and the power of a sound mind. Speaking to that idea of the equipping that he can give us within that, but the reality of the situations we find ourselves in. And then if you brothers could just speak to that a little bit more, Steve, maybe we’ll start with you. What are some of the, as you’ve thought about this topic, and if you spent some time in a small group of elders and elders’ wives and around this idea of wellness within the elder body, both the ministry as a whole. What are some of the stressors that you see keep bubbling to the top, or just things that maybe you’ve experienced personally in your ministry and eldership that kinda comes to the forefront.
Before I even get into that, I’m gonna borrow a phrase I picked up from Brother Lynn Fiechter. And that’s looking at an opportunity, a fear. I can look at it from a fear filled obligation or a faith fueled opportunity. And, it’s a total different perspective. And if I can get to that faith fueled opportunity, it goes so much better. Stressors, ones that I’ve experienced. A big one is a lot of times it’s expectations of people. And not necessarily God’s expectations, but people’s expectations of what I’m supposed to be about. A lot of times they’re probably self-inflicted where I have certain expectations that I think I have to live up to and God hasn’t even called me to that. That can really create a lot of stress.
Having multiple hats, husband, father, CPA or day job, and in the ministry, all those things, and trying to balance them out. And especially, when one or two get overloaded or there’s new things thrown in. You’re already overloaded and a funeral pops up or there’s some counseling session you need to do, that can create a lot of stress. So that can be difficult for me. Dealing with “hopeless” situations. I put that in quotes. Nothing’s without hope, but situations that just never seem to come out on top. They always end up sideways. And maybe it’s the individuals themselves or whatever the situation is, and just dealing with them and with the expectation that we are to help and that can create a lot of stress. So those are just a few things, but the fallouts, the bad part when you have that stress and then there’s some detriments to that. I’ll let maybe either Brother Brad or I can speak to those too.
Brad, why don’t you go ahead. Any other stressors first, then let’s come back to that, Steve, and talk about some of the impact these stressors can have. But Brad, what have you seen in your experience of some of the stressors that play out in this life?
Yeah, so I think that I recognize every one of those that brother Steve mentioned. But, there’s some other things that are probably somewhat associated. I’m a normal human being and I like to be liked. I want to be respected. And when it doesn’t feel like that’s happening, that brings a lot of stress. In my day job, I’m a consultant, so I’m wired to have the answers and I expect that of myself. And, I a lot of times think other people expect that of me. And so often I don’t have maybe any answers. I just have a lot of more questions than already presented. So that can really bring a lot of tension as well. And I think it’s just understanding my own limitations in relationship to the bigness of the work, the bigness of the calling, the bigness of all of those things can really be a source of a lot of tension.
I really appreciate that. Let me shift slides here to the next slide here real quick and just call out some of these stressors and then some impacts. And let’s talk about these impacts here as we get into this. But you see some of these stressors that, as we shared beforehand, the webinar and talked this through together. These are some things that came to the forefront and you can see we’re affirmed by their brothers. You’ve got this idea of this 24 7 mindset where we never really have a break. There’s not a true Sabbath rest. This public pressure to perform and conform, to be liked. I think Brother Brad, you spoke to that. The conflict that can evolve as we work with others. And this decision fatigue. I don’t know about you, sometimes you can go through one of those days or that period of time when you’re just tired. And when you look back and just think about the number of decisions that you have to make or have had to make, and to your point, Brad, he’s supposed to have all the right answers instantly whenever someone reaches out. That’s a real thing. And it’s a real thing that can lead to a fatigue factor. And then on the right hand side, we have some impacts that we’ve thought about. Brothers speak to this, Steve, these impacts or other impacts, where have you seen the fallout from these stressors upon elders, ministers, wives, other church leaders.
Before I jump into that, I’m gonna just speak briefly on that decision fatigue. We do make a lot of decisions and they impact people. It’s one thing at my day job, I’m dealing with numbers and I can always amend a return, that type of thing. But when you’re dealing with people and some of the hurts that can happen, you can’t just amend hurt feelings. And so that adds even a lot more stress. But, as far as one of the things that happens to me when I really get overloaded and stressed out is my compassion just goes right out the door. Sometimes I can just clam up and not care. And that’s not healthy. I suppose it’s like that disconnect or where you just disengage.
So that’s one. I can become defensive. I can become angry and argumentative. But I think the lion part of me comes out whenever I get backed in a corner. And again, that’s not healthy. I remember being at the office, I can laugh now, but I couldn’t laugh then. But, when I get really stressed, I get pretty intense. And, I must have offended a few of the ladies in the way I approached them. And anyway, long story short, I ended up having to apologize. I did it voluntarily, but apologized to the whole staff and really an embarrassing time, but a good learning time. But, so those things can happen to me. There’s more, but I’ll let brother Brad share a little of his. Wouldn’t want to rob him of all of them.
Yeah, I think just so many of the things that are on this list here get encapsulated in a feeling of a need for escape, to try to get away from the stress that we’re feeling. So that could be in forms of just trying to disconnect. And, I tend to turn inward and try to hide that way. There’s a word on here that maybe isn’t that familiar to all of us. Of presenteeism. And I think it’s a word that comes from the workplace and it’s related to people coming to work while they’re ill. And they’re present, but they’re really not functioning. And I think in this work, it could be a physical illness, but it’s much more an emotional illness or maybe not illness isn’t the right thing. Unhealthiness that can, we’re there and going through the motions, but not really effective and fully engaged. I know that my wife feels the bottom one on there often from me when I tend to turn inward and I’m learning to tell her why, so that she knows that it’s not her, sooner rather than later. So yeah, it’s all of those things that I think come into this means of escape. And, sometimes those can come in very unhealthy means of escape that lead to bad habits or sin as well. And, ultimately to moral failure. And, often I think those feel like a way of escape when they’re really a trap of Satan.
And I think that’s true, Brother Brad. And, you can medicate by escaping into things that are not appropriate. And it happens, unfortunately it does. And, so we have to really guard that. And sometimes it can be escaped into something that’s maybe not sinful in itself, but just disengaging from your family or your children when you should really be about spending time with them. So that whole escape thing can really be devastating.
It really becomes a little bit hard, I’m guessing, and brothers, I mean, this has been my experience, it becomes hard to keep the priorities right. And, you can become almost a little bit of either a slave to the job, so to speak, or a slave to the ministries at the expense of your family. Or you can wanna just remove yourself from the ministry completely to that presenteeism state or to that state where you’re trying to react. That pendulum swings back and forth, I think, is what I’m trying to say there. How have you learned to keep the right balance of priorities, whether it’s your personal devotions strong, your family connection strong and still a healthy relationship with work, but just with the ministry, but just keep that level of priorities there. Have you learned any tricks in your experiences that have been helpful in that area?
For me, I think one of the things that I’ve learned is to give myself permission to say no or to say, not this week. Now I can abuse that as well, but I think that is something that we need to understand. And I think this is something that ACCFS taught me, that every time we say yes to something, we’re probably saying no to something else. And so even when we think we’re always saying yes, we’re still saying no to something. So if I say yes to whatever real or perceived emergency there seems to be in church, I’m gonna have to say no to my wife and to my family when I say yes to that. So I think trying to think about it that way has been helpful to me.
I appreciate that. Brad. Matt, have you had any thoughts as you listen to this and just think through some of these impacts, these stressors, and just this introductory thought here? Yeah, I’d like to just try to place my finger on the uniqueness of tonight’s webinar as it sits in a suite of resiliency. We’ve talked and spoken to resiliency in lots of different venues and places and even webinars. But as I look at the list here, I think what you brothers are talking about and what you will be talking about is not just these stressors producing in us an ineffectiveness or an exhaustion or a wearing of oneself out. That belongs in the resiliency conversation.
But this list here on the impacts are detrimental. People are being hurt by these. It is hurting our wives and our children. It is hurting and so, I don’t know Arlan, I’d be glad for your further filling that out. But I really believe tonight’s conversation has a special measure in the resiliency conversation that we’re really talking about how we can get sideways as leaders and ministers, not only to the detriment of our own selves, but to the detriment and hurt of others. Our congregation, and not at a lack of example in the wider Christian community right now where men have been at places in leadership without any accountability and great hurt and fallout has happened. And so I really think this topic has got a lot of merit and support.
And I really appreciate that, Matt, and that leads a little bit, I think you’ve got the third and fourth bullet points here under impacts, you’ve got both extremes. You’ve got either you get to a situation where you abuse your power and get to a point where you’re causing damage in that way, or you get to the point where you escape or avoid the leadership opportunity you have and you cause damage that way. And I think that the point you’re alluding to, which is an important point, is that in the roles that we have, the opportunities we have, which is why the Scripture speaks so strongly to that idea of blamelessness, is there’s always an impact. There’s always others who are impacted. It’s not just ourselves, it’s not just us. There’s a consequence there too. But whether it’s family or marriages or the church as a whole and the congregants and those that we interact with, there’s different levels of impact that take place there too. And I think that’s a really important piece to keep in mind. And I think that segues here to this next slide I want to go to.
So brothers, I’m gonna share this and then Steve, you go first and correct me, but somewhere along the line, the elder body, in the recent past here saw that there was a need for a healthy, proactive way of bringing accountability and support around church leadership to really bring some awareness to this and to also offer that support that’s needed because of the importance and the calling and the impact it can have. So, Steve, why don’t you speak, this is 360 Wellness. Speak a little bit to where this came from and your role within it and that piece. And then Brad, I’ll ask you to into a little bit of the vision of where it’s going.
Just jumping in from my perspective, I’m sure there’s been discussions throughout the years, but my recollection as I went back and looked at some of the minutes and looked at some of the notes that I had. Back in 2014, we had some questions at the elder body and some concerns about financial accountability, how we’re handling finances, and so we set up some financial accountability standards and best practices for our churches and treasurers and things like that. And I think that cracked the door to open the way for, oh, we really need to do this for our spiritual facets too. And, so that started a bit of a conversation there and we’ve had some incidences in our churches that were leaders, didn’t do well. And with a little more accountability, a little more assistance, it probably would’ve went better. Back in June of 2014, we had an Indiana Regional Elder Meeting, and it was my turn to do the devotions and I did one on Mark 6:31.
And, that’s where Jesus calls them to come apart and rest and that type of thing. And it really stirred a lot of discussion. And, I came away from that really seeing that this was something that was really near and dear to our hearts, that there was really a need for it. And that culminated eventually into a forum topic in January of 2019. And we intentionally looked at elder accountability, looked at some of the downfall without accountability. We looked at some of the history that we had. We just really spent some time to flesh that out and see what we can do about it. And that’s spilled over into the March 2019 special day and conference. And from that we ended up with an ad hoc committee which was originally entitled the Elder Accountability Committee, which didn’t really say a lot, and so we started with that and then it continued to grow as we saw the need and saw the benefits.
Got a great group that’s involved. Brother Brad’s chair, Brother Ted Witzig Jr. is on that, Brother Ted Steffen, myself, and Sister Jane Wiegand. Sister Michelle Strahm would be Brother Brad’s wife and Sister Peggy Jackson at this time. And who am I missing, Brother Brad? I think that’s everybody. Okay. Anyway, that’s the group and we’ve worked together. We did get it rebranded to 360 Wellness, to be a little better descriptor of what we’re about, and I think Brother Brad’s gonna talk a little about the vision, but really more wanting to be more proactive than reactive. And try to have some kind of structure, be a little intentional about what can we do to help identify when we have issues, what are some of the steps we can take to try alleviate those issues, and really encourage wellness and resiliency. I’ll let Brother Brad speak a little bit on the vision, but that’s the genesis and how it evolved and it’s still morphing some, and we’re open for suggestions and direction on how best to do it.
Appreciate that. Brad, why don’t you go in and just, I see the mindset there. It says here on the language, the pursuit of growth is viewed as a best way to put up a firewall against Satan’s attacks. What does that mean? Or as the group talks that through, what’s the hope here and the vision here?
Yeah, so really we, everything that we try to do is resting on this idea of stewardship and that nothing that we have is ours. We’re taking care of God’s things and that includes our wives and families. It includes the church, it includes everything that we deal with. And, just being very open and acknowledging that the demands are real. And often they’re in tention with one another. And, to try to look not just at the things that are the task-oriented things, the how to pull off a baptism or a wedding or all of those kinds of things, but instead focus on our wellness, whether that’s primarily emotional wellness, but also can extend into physical wellness, but then especially relational wellness with those around us.
And our goals are to try to be intentional about this. Not we’ll do it haphazardly, but to do it on a regular basis. There’ll be something involved in our elder meetings every year. And we’re encouraged. Through this we’ve developed an elder wives’ committee, that’s the three sisters that Steve mentioned who will also help those sisters work through those kinds of things as well. So, I think if I could sum up the vision, and this is not an official vision statement, but it’s my own words. It’s to take all of us from where we are to someplace better. And sometimes we can, well, I know I can start thinking about wellness and accountability and I get some thoughts that come into my mind that feel out of reach, or that feel too big for me to accomplish right now.
And so I think that’s the idea of pursuing this in a wellness sort of mindset rather than a corrective mindset. Understanding that does need to happen sometimes. But pursuing it with that wellness mindset that we can build that support structure is where we want to go. And, we tend to talk about it in terms of elders, but it has been our intention from the beginning that we do find ways to roll this out and to push these same concepts out to other ordained leadership, ordained deacons, and then ministers and their wives as well. And so that’s, I think, one of the big opportunities we have to introduce that at least here tonight.
I really appreciate that, brothers. I wanna let you guys build upon that, but what I’m hearing is this, it’s an idea of conversation. Let’s talk about this. Let’s not pretend it’s not out there. Pretend it’s not. It’s just grin and bear it. But let’s at least have conversations and let’s build dialogue around it and give vocabulary to it and permission to have some of these conversations. And that’s really one of the hopes of this webinar tonight. And, from an ACCFS perspective is, can we bring light, and help support something that the elder body’s engaged with. Cuz we see that value in those conversations happening and that awareness of that piece happening there.
I think really creating a place of safety that allows us to be vulnerable, to be open with one another, to allow others to speak into our lives and give them opportunity to do that. Not just wait until something’s so out of whack that it becomes a corrective sort of thing.
There’s three areas that you focus in on. And, just speak into these a little bit here. You’ve got three different spheres of your life, so to speak. You’ve got the personal stewardship, which focuses into more of our own personal life and devotional life. And then you’ve got marriage and family, and then you’ve got your leadership responsibilities. Where did these three categories come from? Why three or what’s the hope here with navigating through these?
I think these three categories came out of discussions that we had in our 360 wellness work group. And, really we went and looked at the stressors and the failures, the places of real tension in ministry. Not just in our minister group, but these are things that apply, it seems, to all people who are called the pastors or people that serve in that sort of role in all Christian churches. And they seem to fall out into these three categories. And it was a way that we could help to organize things to just try to bring focus to each one of those and a way to organize other things that we do into these three categories. And we found that these, it’s felt at least among the elders and their wives, that these are three very relevant areas that make a lot of sense to continue to focus on.
And I think they’re in a good order. One, two, and three. They’re all three important. But you know, if you don’t have that personal stewardship, that personal health. Everything else is gonna suffer. And so, we’re looking at all three, each of the assessments and we’ll probably talk a little bit about those assessments, look at all three of these categories, and then we have five different questions under each of those categories. And, our intention is to have several of these assessments with those same three categories, with a little bit of different flavor on the questions to maybe catch a broader perspective. So, and we’re trying to tie, I agree with brother Brad and what he shared, and we tried to tie back to the leadership principles as well. We have, with the elder body, any ordained leadership, we have leadership principles, and one of which is we are brothers among brethren and we serve as servant leaders. And so we’re trying to tie back into some of these leader principles and let them play out into that application into our lives.
I just think that if you think about each three of these areas, if Satan can bring destruction in any one of those, he wins. And he’s out to destroy us individually, together. That’s what he wants to do. And, if we don’t have a good relationship with God on our own, he will destroy us. And if he can destroy the family, which is a model that God uses to describe his relationship with the church, with his people, then he can destroy that. And certainly if he can destroy leadership or their relationship with the church, again, he can destroy that vision of Christ’s relationship with the church. And, ultimately, there are a lot of people that get hurt. And in the end, also God’s name, his reputation is severely damaged.
And I think it’s important to emphasize we’re trying to be proactive, not reactive. So we don’t wanna be in an emergency room. We’d rather be in exercise room where you’re building your strength and you’re building your core and staying healthy. And then at times, we need the emergency room. I suppose that’s when ACCFS comes in. But we work in collaboration with ACCFS, 360 Wellness does, and it’s really been a great relationship. I think a real healthy relationship.
So I’ve really caught two things here. I wanna just build out here so you’ve got this idea of a framework. So these three things really provide a framework of how to think about various aspects of our life in which we could consider accountability. And there’s even some assessments that you’ve worked up, which let’s get to that in just a second and walk through those as a tool. But then the other thing is, you have almost these two levels of triage or these two levels of a need for help that you’ve mentioned and referenced here. So if someone is struggling and they feel like their life is off the rails or just in a really hard spot, what would be your recommendation for them? I’m gonna ask you that here in just a second. But other than that, there’s also this proactive piece so that we are building the accountability into our life and into our daily spheres to stay away from them. So, how do we implement both of those? Or how do you brothers recommend or just consider. So if someone’s life is just in a really hard spot, speak into that just a little bit. And then we’ll go into the proactive side next.
Go ahead, Brother Brad. Well, so there you need to reach out and find some help and I think that a resource that we appreciate, I appreciate so tremendously is ACCFS to do that. And, I’ve done that to reach out to gain tools that I can use to manage my life back to a more healthy place. It wouldn’t have to be that if there’s another person in your life that can lead you that way. I think that is really good. But it’s like Steve said, if we are in a physical health emergency, we’ll go to the emergency room and we’ll get help with that. And, there’s no shame in that. It’s the reality of a real life to do that. So that’s my advice.
I appreciate that, Brad. And, that is the heart and one of the core missions of ACCFS to provide that help if there’s hurting. And I know it’s been shared and it’s a truth that if you’re a minister, an elder or a wife or someone who is in the midst of that, that is a high priority for us. It goes to the highest of our priority lists. And reach out and let’s have a conversation and walk through things together and begin that dialogue. But let’s look at this proactive side. How do we proactively implement this? What are some of the visions of 360 Wellness as to how do we help our ministers and their wives and their elders and wives and church leadership?
How do we help in a proactive way think about these areas and grow? And, you mentioned some assessments, what are these assessments you talk about, you shared one, let me pull it up while you’re talking, Steve, you go into it.
I was just gonna speak a little bit to just the image of leadership. We sometimes think we have to have it all together. We are perfect, we’re not and we struggle. We have our struggles and there’s times we need help and we should be open enough to ask for that help and not just to hide it and bury it and put on a facade. And, if we can work past that into where we really can be open and transparent in a reasonable way. And with the right kind of confidence and the right kind of people, we really need to have that ability to be able to do that.
But it, the assessment, basically, there’s those three sections, and I’ll speak to it a little bit. If what we’re trying to do is have some kind of a tool that helps us with the conversation, it gives us something that we can sit down and pray over. It’s got a continuum on each one of those questions. For instance, under personal stewardship, how would you describe your personal connection to Christ? Very close, disconnected and you wanna be honest with yourself and pray through it, and then put an X in the continuum where you think you’re gonna be.
And, so you start with yourself and then you bring in your wife. I could bring in Myra, my wife, and we’ve done that and reality test where my little X is. I might be clear to the right, and she says, no, I think you’re more to the left. And anyway, but it gives us a chance to sit down and converse with some of these topics that are pretty sensitive at times and have that conversation so you can do it with yourself and the Lord as you pray. Do it with your wife, or if the wife might be doing it with her husband. And, then a mentor, if you have one or someone that you have confidence in. And so it’s an opportunity to explore some of these areas that we don’t often talk about and try to have some way to measure where we’re at. Also it can be really helpful later down the road to see how you’re, or if you’re like, Brother Brad said, it’s not like we have to be perfection, but let’s be moving the right direction. We can see if there’s any progress or digression. Also, it’ll help identify maybe some of the hotspots. Where are the circuits really warming up where we have some issues that we really need to address? Those kind of things. So it’s not perfect, but it’s a practical tool, I think, that will be helpful.
It can be a conversation starter. Right. It’s a tool that can be a conversation starter or an awareness piece to be walked through. Exactly. There’s a couple of questions. Looks like here they’re more geared towards elders, just the nature of those questions. But the bulk of these, would you say brothers, they have really applied towards ministry as a whole and the aspects of ministry that any minister would face.
And I would agree with Brother Brad’s assessment, that this really was meant to be not just for elders or ordained deacons, but to be cascaded down into the ministry and any leadership, Sunday School, whatever, anybody that’s in a position of influence in the ministry.
We were working on this webinar just a couple weeks ago, and this assessment got shared with me right before a road trip for family out to Iowa. And so it became a discussion item on our road trip to Iowa between my wife and I in a healthy way. It was a good thing. It was a good check for us to walk through and look at some of these questions together and where I put myself and where she puts myself or herself or our marriage relationship, depending on the question. Which I’m guessing is that’s the very intent of this exercise. So that is just for the reference of those who are online, that is gonna be linked to the website in the same article where this is at and it’s also gonna be shared on the email.
We send an email out after this event and we’ll link it there and is available as a PDF you can print off look at and use it. So that would be one way, brothers, to begin to build discussion in a healthy way around accountability in this area. There’s a couple other things here that we’ve just come up in our conversations, this idea, and you’ve mentioned it even tonight, this idea about mentoring or intentional relationships of some type and this proactive accountability. Speak into those if you could, just, how can these also be a way to provide support in a preventative way in some of these areas? Brother, Steve, go ahead. Yeah, I forget who’s turn to go first. So just jump right in.
Not every elder has a mentor, some do, some don’t. I’d hope that we all have someone that we can openly speak to that will openly ask us some tough questions. In the past I’ve worked with brother Lynn Fiechter. We had a little deal where we once a week would communicate with each other and we had four aspects that we checked. And we had a scale of one to 10. And, I think it was ACTS: attitude, Christ-centered, technology, appropriate use of technology. And s would be more personal strength, or eating right, sleeping right, and getting your rest, that kind of thing. And we shared back and forth just to hold us accountable. And it really was helpful for me during the week if I wanna just sit down and read a book and just when I really should have been building my Bible study for something or whatever, I would think about that a little bit.
Or if I was tempted to do something and look at something I shouldn’t, that was, I knew I was gonna have to mention that to my brother Lynn. And, so it really helped and it wasn’t really invasive or didn’t really take a lot of time, but it was just a little bit of something to help me line up better and you can do it with your spouse, whatever. But I think it’s helpful to have someone else speaking in and asking some questions.
So that would really speak into this first part, right? This mentoring, this intentional relationship. And you can imagine, the idea is you have someone that you are willing and able to share intimately with and it can be an older, with a younger, I think sometimes we think about that as mentoring. But it doesn’t have to be either. I think it could be peer to peer, so it could be within a minister group, or it could be older ministers mentoring younger ministers or newer ministers in the ministry and helping to build that relationship, that conversation about it. This would then speak into this proactive accountability aspect. Brad, I’m guessing, right? I mean, it’d be a way to get those conversations out front as opposed to hopefully having to have a reactive conversation.
Certainly, yeah. And to me, they’re so intertwined that I probably can’t really separate them so much from one another, but I think that probably the biggest, something that I have become pretty passionate about on this either mentoring or accountability, is to talk about it in a way that makes it accessible. I think both of those words, accountability and mentoring can be very loaded words and our minds sometimes think of something that might be very idealized, that feels like is out of reach to us, wherever we are. And so I guess my encouragement is to do something, start to reach out to someone in both of these areas. And again, it’s to take from wherever we are to someplace better, more healthy, more accountable, is really my big encouragement to everyone that might be listening in.
Really appreciate that. Matt, any thoughts as you’ve been listening and just thinking about it, and any observations, questions?
Yeah. I really appreciate brothers. And I want to just highlight what I believe this is evidence for, is that it is the heart of our leadership to have a culture whereby accountability is sustained. People are going to be accountable if the culture allows for that. We might have a lot of things in place, but if the culture’s not there for a person to share openly with another person, be vulnerable, it’s not gonna happen. But from the examples, Brother Steve, that you gave, and Brad, your comment here, it sounds to me there is a desire for a culture to be in place among ministers and elders of the Apostolic Christian Church that vulnerability in sharing is a norm.
And I didn’t ask a question. I guess that’s a yes, no, I’ll just say I think that’s an accurate assessment, Matt, I would agree. And, so my next follow up question would be, as we go to our own local team, do you perceive a conversation that needs to be had at that level? And what would that look like? Because, this is new and this is maybe a new culture and or new. So anyway, I’d love any thoughts that you would have on what it looks like to take this from your level and bring it down into minister teams.
Yeah. And, I really appreciate that, Matt. You know what I’m hearing, just to further feather that out, so there’s a desire and a hope and an encouragement to be proactive with wellness. And now they’re providing language assessments and discussion points and those kind of things around what that could look like. So how do we encourage implementation? What are some things that can be done to encourage the implementation side?
Well, one thing we’re doing is keeping the conversation alive. We’re, bringing it up at each, for sure the Mid-Winter Conference. There’s an intentional presentation or something that’s brought up to continue to bring it in front of us. And, hopefully we, as the elder body as ordained leadership, can model this and actually live it and then share it with our own minister teams and model it there. And, give permission for people to ask me tough questions or each other. One question, I think one that somebody asked is how do you build that in a minister team when you’re all mostly peers? And, I think giving permission for each other to ask those questions would be helpful, but modeling it is big. And for us as leaders to be transparent and vulnerable and open as well, I think that helps. But it’s gonna be a teaching process. It’s gonna be intentional process. We don’t want it to be a paper that you fill out, you throw in a file and you don’t only look at it again, or it just becomes another task to do. And, really no benefit. So it’s a start and we’re learning as we go but we really do want that kind of a culture. We need that kind of a culture.
And I think just to make sure that we’re very clear is we want minister teams to use these assessments in some way. Of the three different ways that were described. And we hope to continue to come up with these, hopefully on a little more regular basis every year or so. And it won’t be that the next one will replace the last one. It’ll be another tool in the toolbox, so to speak, that can be used. And our hope is to keep this in front of everyone as much as we can.
We’re getting close to the end. And so we haven’t been very good with giving time for questions, but if you have a question that you’d like to ask, feel free to chat it in right now in the next minute or two we’ll try to get to it. But while we wait to see if that happens, brothers, there’s another question that came in earlier when people registered was just this idea of how could we hinder this? Or what are some behaviors or things that could be done that would hinder accountability from growing within a minister group or within church leadership? Any thoughts on that? We’ve talked about ways to begin to do it. What about on the other side? What should we not do?
Be very confidential? Trust the information that’s shared. Keep it confidential. And I think my experiences as one of the biggest either a conversation killer or that takes a conversation off the rails is when we become much too black and white in our thinking. And so be willing to be vulnerable, that maybe you don’t know for sure. I find that I become much more black and white. I tend to become much more black and white in my statements in the way I communicate. Probably the more unsure I really am about it. And I think that not everything has a black and white answer and especially through all of this and through my responsibilities, I say that people are complicated and I’m probably the most complicated one of all. And, I think just being willing to accept that truth as we communicate with each other. Try to understand what’s driving maybe very strong opinions in someone else that’s hard to do. But seek to understand will also be very helpful.
Even if there’s some resistance, someone not wanting to be accountable, maybe explore what’s driving that resistance. Are there some fears or something behind those? And, I agree it’s with Brother Brad. Sometimes we can be too black and white and I think, do this, try to create an atmosphere of grace, not law. And I think that should help with greater openness and safety in that.
We had one quick question come in here. Steve, you mentioned ACTS, the acronym ACTS. Could you go through those four pieces just real quick? What the A, C, T, and S stand for? Yeah. The first was attitude. How am I doing with my wife, with joy? That kind of thing is, am I really, Fruit of the Spirit kind of thing. The second was C was Christ-centered. Is how am I doing with my devotions? Am I praying? Am I reading, am I spending time building that relationship with Christ? T was used to technology. It could be something as graphic as am I into pornography or I’m into things that I shouldn’t or am I using technology wastefully, spending way too much time on social media or just burning a bunch of time and energy on something that’s just really meaningless. And then the S was more your personal health. Am I getting my rest? Am I eating right? Am I exercising? That type of thing. So it was just four things and we did a one to 10. If I did a 10, which I never did, or not too often, and so you can come up with your own little scale, but that was just something that we used, your numbers guy doing the scale there.
I appreciate that. I have numbers. Well, brothers, we’re at the bottom of the hour. Any last thoughts or questions or observations you wanna share out here before I bring this to a close? Really appreciate your discussion and dialogue so far. I don’t think so. We would welcome input, figure out a way to get that to us, I guess. But, we would welcome that.
Really, Jesus did die for the church and he really loves his church and we’re called to shepherd and lead it and nurture the people and so I’m thankful for the opportunity to share this and we hope it really does just take off and get a lot of traction and become the culture of who we are. Cuz there’s so much damage. You can think of the Mars Hill, the Ravi Zacharias, some of those ministries have devastated because of abuses and we don’t want to be there.
Really appreciate that. And just thank you both for being willing to take time and be part of this and walk through this. It’s an important topic. It’s a key topic as we think about being faithful in our stewardship. And whether that means reaching out, if there’s help needed and just need to begin that conversation and really walk into that. Or whether it’s having that ongoing proactive, conversation and leaning into that and being willing to be vulnerable and open on a regular basis. It’s powerful and it’s important. And, I hope those listening you caught the great hope that I heard tonight. This idea, the desire for a culture where there’s loving, supportive accountability built into it.
And so let’s lean into that by Christ’s grace and his power. Let’s be willing to lean into that and continue to press on together for the good of the gospel and the cause of the church. We’re thankful for each one of you that joined us. Thankful Brother Brad and Brother Steve for being with us. And, this will end our webinar. We did just release next year’s slate of webinars. So that’s gonna be out there and on our website, under events, you can see upcoming webinars and see the minister webinars and topical webinars we have for next year. Really thankful for the opportunity to have these conversations together.