For years now I have coined a somewhat lyrical and memorable phrase detailing what it means to be a fully liberated adult. On those occasions when I have incorporated it into a sermonic discourse, it has never failed to generate a rousing response. The statement is this: “You are not a fully liberated adult until you’re actually grown, gone, on your own, and leaving your mama and daddy’s money alone!” A few may disagree, but numerous have noted how it resonates with their own views when it comes to an excellent definition for being a true adult!”

As comical and perhaps factual as this quotation may be, it reminds us of the common quest of every growing (and groaning) teenager as they begin to know privilege, opportunity, more liberty, and some degree of independence. It seems the more they taste it, the more they want of it (and there’s nothing wrong with wanting it either). I believe, however, I can honestly say for every child-rearing adult and loving parent that no child wants to leave home any quicker (or to any degree greater) than their guardians want them to soon be on their way. In the final analysis, there is one inescapable factor we cannot ignore; “these things take time.”

As I pondered this all too familiar dilemma, the Lord pressed upon me another truth—an axiom of sorts—that is indisputably true. It is this: “In one’s quest for autonomy and a want for authority, none get to live without accountability.”

We would all do well to learn this reality. No one should seek to live without the distinct privilege of allowing another (or others) to uphold you in loving and responsible accountability. It is the only guarantor of excellence, ethics, and equality for a healthy society to exist. Lord Acton was right when he wrote, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely!” This certainly holds true when it comes to the management of our lives!

When you think about it, Jabez’s simple prayer included an insightful appeal that recognized his own need for living right in community. While he requested more real estate, resources, and responsibility, he also asked the Lord to “…keep me from evil so that I may not cause pain.” (see 1 Chronicles 4:10). He wanted God to help him manage himself so that he would not create problems for others who lived with, amid, and near him. He knew in the scheme of things he could not be successful without living responsibly and accountably around other people. Joyfully, God did exactly what he asked Him to do. He can do it for you. Just ask Him!

I have never asked God to help me be a better preacher or pastor. If only He would enable me to be a better person. That is why my desperate plea daily is simply: “Lord, help me to live right!”