Personal accountability is a lot like a car's parking sensor system: when used with good judgment, it can warn us about impending danger and keep us from probable damage.
My 2008 Nissan Titan Crew Cab pickup truck (black, running boards, long bed, complete with Jack Bauer sticker) . . . sorry . . . I love my truck . . . has an option called “parking sensors.” Now, in case you don’t know what those are, they are small, uh . . . sensors across the back bumper that “read” the environment when you’re in reverse and warn you when you are getting close to an object. The goal, of course, is to keep you from damaging your truck by backing into something and also to protect others from being hit by you, especially small children. Now this isn't like the garbage truck where everyone hears the deafening warning beep. This is a beep heard only by the driver in the cab.
When I put my truck in reverse, the sensors activate. If I get several feet from something, they start to beep. The closer I get to anything, the faster the beep gets, letting me know by the speed of the beep how close I am. If I finally hear a long beep with no break, I know I am about make impact. Brake time. Stop movement.
When I back up to a loading dock, I use the sensors to gauge when to stop by the speed of the beep. The beep starts off like a “Hey, watch out.” Then it changes to “Whoa, slow down!” to finally the super fast beep that seems to say, “You idiot, hit the brakes!!!”
If I’m intentionally backing up to something, I can choose to reach down to the sensor switch and actually turn it off. When I start the truck again, the sensors go back on.
Here’s the down side. I've gotten so accustomed to my parking sensors that when I’m in my wife’s Altima I have to be extra careful because I now depend on the sensors to warn me; subsequently, I'm not as cautious a driver. And so much so that last year while backing my son’s pick-up out of the driveway, I actually backed right into a neighbor’s car. I knew it was back there, but his 1994 Chevy Cheyenne didn't beep and warn me! . . . $800 fixed that mistake.
Accountability is a lot like parking sensors. You can activate it in life, put it in place, and allow it to work. You can also reach over and cut it off for a moment when it’s too loud or inconvenient. You can also just trust that someone else will call you or catch you before you lose judgment and do damage, then blame your accountability for not watching out for you.
Parking sensors are an awesome invention—when used properly with good judgment and careful driving. But they won’t always stop accidents or damage or even keep someone from getting killed.
Accountability is an awesome gift—when used with good judgment and careful living. But it can’t always stop sin or damage, or even stop someone’s life from being devastated.
In just six weeks I have been involved in two situations in which men have turned off their sensors and kept on going until their lives and the lives of those they loved were devastated. I get so tired of hearing this same saga. Different names, different locations, different details...but same story.
On my truck, parking sensors are an option but my brakes are not. Lots of cars don’t have sensors but they all have brakes. Do you need to stop something? Do you need to activate some sensors in your life?
“Let’s not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump. —Jesus in Matthew 5:29-30 / The Message