By Karl Kurz
I have five grown children, two sons and three daughters (two of my daughters via marriage to my sons!). They often remind me of old sayings and adages that I used as they grew up in Texas. They will immediately tell you that my three favorite words for almost any situation they faced were, “Suck it up”, and if you start the phrase: “Never…,” they will respond with, “Never, never quit.” I am blessed that in spite of my errors as a father, their heavenly Father has gathered them unto Him as children of the King. My boys will also tell the four principles that I have charged them as part of the path to being biblical men of God: to reject passivity, to accept responsibility, to lead courageously, and to expect the greater reward. I could write a lot about each of these charges, but today my heart is on an issue that goes hand-in-hand with responsibility…and that is accountability.
Success in the Marketplace
Success in the marketplace is a direct byproduct of one being accountable for their ideas, their department, their sales, their results, and their performance. Accountability is the giving account of one’s behavior, and the right behavior is required by the marketplace for many of us to achieve success and a sustainable profitable business. The marketplace will hold us accountable for the day-to-day performance of our employees, division, or company. The marketplace will marginalize and eventually purge organizations and individuals that have poor accountability systems or measures. However, the portions of our lives not held to the accountability standards of the marketplace can often be left in states of disarray and underperformance. These parts of our lives can be, and are often the areas that we would claim to be our highest priorities – areas like our spiritual walk, our families, and our Christian witness.
Very early in my career, the marketplace made me very aware of my accountability in my secular responsibilities, and I relished the challenge and reward of exceeding in that arena. However, I often struggled to behave in a manner worthy of my spiritual calling as a follower of Jesus and the spiritual leader of my family. My spiritual discipline was weaker than I desired. I wanted to grow in my spiritual discipline but found lessor priorities (read “marketplace”) too often taking the greater priority in my life. I was pursuing God and striving to be a biblical man of God; however, because of the lack of tangible accountability in these areas, I allowed lesser priorities to overshadow the things I most valued, namely Jesus Christ and my Christian responsibilities.
Then in 1999, an industry associate called and asked if I would be his spiritual accountability partner. Not even knowing what it entailed, but willing to give it a try, I consented. We started meeting once every week at 5am for coffee and for almost fourteen years now, have been meeting almost weekly for coffee (though we now have slid the time to 6am). Our meetings have been structured with direct questions regarding our prayer life, the reading and study of God’s Word, defeating temptation, receiving correction and encouragement, the frequency of evangelism, loving our wives as Christ loved the church, and being the spiritual leader of our families. As children of the King, we are called to live in a manner worthy of our calling (Eph 4:1). It took several months to build the trust and relationship to openly share our struggles, temptations, failings, and weaknesses, but we found over time that areas of weakness were addressed with strong admonition, prayer, and encouragement. We celebrated success together, counseled each other in decisions, and constantly reminded each other to keep the main thing the main thing. In times of duress and struggles, we often found the Holy Spirit leading us to send a message of encouragement or admonishment at just the right times. By finally creating structured accountability over the most important areas of my life, I was able to live a much more victorious life as a biblical man of God, and I saw tangible improvements in my walk with Christ.
As Iron Sharpens Iron
Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted; but an enemy multiplies kisses.” I have seen the truth of this proverb in my accountability relationship. My accountability partner has my best interest at heart and will tell me the things I do not want to hear, because he is interested in my spiritual welfare. Others may flatter me, avoid coming to me with difficult items that I need to deal with in my life, or try to tear me down with sharp words, but a godly accountability partner can be trusted.
Another important verse in the same chapter is Proverbs 27:17, which says, “Iron sharpens iron, as one man sharpens another.” The sharpening of a knife entails removing part of the steel. The process is accomplished by grating the blade with something harder than the steel of the knife. If the knife is very dull, then a rougher material should be used to begin the sharpening process. If the knife is fairly sharp, then a smoother, gentler honing is used to finish the final edge of a knife. My accountability relationship is like the honing process of a knife. When my edge has become very dull, then usually some large adjustments need to be made, but if I am able to “keep my edge” in a spiritual sense, often only a soft honing is needed.
Find a Godly Accountability Partner
Finding a good accountability partner takes commitment and prioritization. I could come up with a great list of reasons not to meet my accountability partner at 5 am in the morning, but after 14 years of weekly meetings, I cannot think of one time that I made an excuse not to meet (now do I know of at least 4-5 times that I didn’t set the alarm and overslept!). A good accountability partner needs to be a peer that will not be impressed with your marketplace career or worldly status. He needs to be someone you respect and can build solid trust with. He needs to be someone that is willing to refine you and encourage you towards godliness. I cannot over-emphasize the value of a good accountability partner. So brothers, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the day approaching (Heb 10:25).”
Men, the day is approaching. “Suck it up”…get an accountability partner, and when you do…”Never, never, never quit.”
Karl Kurz has over thirty years of energy industry experience with past positions including Managing Director with CCMP Capital Advisors and Chief Operating Officer of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. Karl holds a Bachelor of Science in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1983. He is also a graduate of Harvard’s Advanced Management Program in 2008. He has served on the Board of Directors of Chaparral Energy LLC, and Newark Energy LLC, the Natural Gas Supply Association, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Independent Petroleum Association of America. He also served on the board of Western Gas Partners (WES) and currently serves on the board of SemGroup (SEMG) Corporation, Global Geophysical Corporation (GGS), Siluria Technologies, Lighthouse Oil & Gas LP, and Rod and Tubing Services, LLC. Karl also serves on the Board of Dallas Theological Seminary. He is an elder of Bethel Bible Fellowship in Katy, Texas.
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