Fearless Questions

Following our Questions to Freedom

Security Cameras and Companions

We are sitting around the living room. 

Five men of different ages…brought together by a common friend who had high hopes of us becoming a band of brothers in the Christian life. 

I only knew two of the guys well.  One I was acquainted with…one a complete stranger.

Our well meaning friend, fresh off a powerful experience at a national men’s conference spent a few minutes introducing us to each other and describing the characteristics he hoped we’d commit to living out with each other.

It was a call to classic masculinity.  Words like strength, challenge, and endurance were used. 

It was all rather interesting…exciting almost. 


And here’s the catch…

Until we heard how we would accomplish these masculine challenges…these calls to holy living we were aspiring to.


And I threw up a little bit in my mouth.

Because suddenly I knew what this was heading towards…just like when the nice salesmen finally gets around to the pitch…this would be the same as most all men’s small groups have been about…accountability and an effort at behavior modification.

And mostly it’s just about pornography.

Any excitement and momentum that had built during my friend’s well intended call to nobility sank away between the couch cushions.

It was this reminder of sorts that we all believed we were bad…And dirty.

Our only hope was to tie ourselves together in brotherhood to prevent us from acting out of our depravity.


Yeah…me either.

So often people talk about Christian accountability like we are giving permission to our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith to act as high-level security cameras in our life.   

“Here’s the access code ya’ll…I’m inviting you to bust me at any time.”


“I’m asking you guys to help me behave.”

These are the sort of things you say when you hope that giving others authority in your life will keep you in line.

But make no mistake…it’s rooted in the idea that given freedom, you’ll screw it all up…dirty pictures and all.

What’s that feel like to you?  The idea of someone being a security camera in your life.

image cred: Matthew Henry

Endearing?  Encouraging?

Or do you feel like sneaking out when the camera looks the other way?

I love what my friend Wayne says in his book Finding Church:  “If you think you are responsible for making others conform to God’s standards, where do you stop when they resist?”

One of the dearest friends I’ve had in my life once asked me to “Beat the shit out of him” if I ever found out he was looking at porn again.

Believe it or not, there is an experience or sense of honor that comes when someone is willing to share their weakness and frustrations to this level of openness…but what does this idea represent?  And what is your motivation for good behavior after all?  Is this God’s primary way of motivating human beings?  

Here’s more from Wayne:

“We create most of our human systems, be they organizational or philosophical, in hopes of protecting people from that chaos of human experience.  But no system has been able to do that, so we endlessly tweak it (my words: like accountability partners) in hopes of finding just the right balance.  Have you noticed that God demonstrates no such passion to manage the chaos?  His authority moves in the midst of chaos to unfold his kingdom and invite people into the new creation.”

So if a security camera isn’t effective long-term…what works?  Isn’t accountability a thing?

Certainly there are places in life where legal and measurable accountability is right and useful.  Your workplace…government…sports teams…the military…and the list goes on.

But to bring this type of crime-prevention attitude to the care of our souls…?

Can I suggest an additional option?

I’m looking for Companions in this life.

image cred: jaime serrano

Because the outcomes that so many people are looking for in relational accountability is actually rooted in intimacy. 

And intimacy can’t be manufactured.

Relational intimacy comes from being truly known by others.

Most men’s groups focus on managing and eradicating the dark parts of a man’s heart and life.

But what men are really longing for is to be fully known for the light inside of them. 

For someone to see the man that they know they already ARE, but not yet fully. 

To have someone speak into that…to be called towards it.

When a man feels respected…and known by another man…they share life together as often as possible…regardless if they consider themselves spiritual or not.   In these circumstances (usually not organized small groups) men freely ask how each other are doing…and the actual feelings of their lives come out. 

They share the battles of the heart that they are wrestling with.  The disappointments of others.  The frustration of unrealistic expectations.  The emptiness of their own efforts at numbing hard places in their life. 

It’s in THESE moments…in that place of emotional safety that a man will share his hurts and struggles with another man.  It’s when that other man is ASKED for his thoughts or advice that the time is right for input.

It’s about reminding each other what is most true. 

Not about showing them the security footage of the broken behavior rooted in a lie they are believing, but rather inviting them towards bigger truth that offers them freedom and fullness of life. 

People don’t need told they are bad.

We need reminded that we are made for Amazing…Abundant…LIFE.

If you believe that God designed a world where love, kindness, honesty, courage, humility and empathy are truly the way to the best life, then trust that inviting people to live fully will take them to those same places. 

Turn off your security cameras and come alongside as a companion to others while you live-out the amazing life that God created you for.

About Jeff Blackburn

Jeff Blackburn is a Spiritual Coach and passionate Truth-Seeker. An alumnus of Oxford University, Jeff is someone who advocates for Freedom and Fullness of Life for All. He believes Jesus offers good news for people everywhere today…not just eternity. Jeff is the Executive Director of Fearless Questions, Inc. and has spent the past 20 years working with people searching for God.

6 Replies

  1. Ned Segnarts

    Thank you, Jeff – you have beautifully articulated the ill-fated dynamics set in motion by the motion-activated security cameras we call “accountability.” My heart much more responds (yea, even leaps for joy) at your invitation to come alongside and live the life of Jesus together!

    1. Jeff Blackburn

      Thanks Ned…coming alongside each other on the journey does feel a little more encouraging 🙂

      1. Coming along sideside, transparency, Encouraging, Thank you for this Insightful angle.. Food for thought… Got to chew on.. Happy New Year 2017

        1. Jeff Blackburn

          Thank you for reading Linda! I’m glad you found it encouraging 🙂

  2. Jeff, I really enjoy how you wrap up the year with an epic post. The security cameras are always watching and the difference is that they aren’t nasty peering devices that we turn on as we allow others to see who we really are, and help us to be better. I wish I had a group of women like your men’s group. Happy New Year!

    1. Jeff Blackburn

      Happy New Year Nicole!