In 40 years of ministry, I have been blessed by an accountability relationship for the past 34+ years with Paul Anthes. Paul is a devoted disciple of Jesus who lives out his calling in the marketplace with every bit of the intentionality and intensity as I live out my calling in vocational ministry.

We have met every other week to review the goals each of us have set for ourselves. These goals are in a broad range of life areas — spiritual, relational, physical, intellectual, professional, financial — because we believe God has called us to a holistic and integrated life of both being and doing. We always pray for each other during our meetings.

This accountability is in the spirit of Hebrews 10 — we find it encouraging to meet together, to spur one another on to love and good works. The cumulative effect of an inspected life, the compound interest of being “faithful in little” has been an increased batting average (to use a baseball analogy) of keeping commitments we have identified as essential to honoring God with the whole of our lives.

In the words of Ecclesiastes 4:9 – 12, I have discovered “two are better than one.” I’m not sure I’d have lasted 40 years in full-time ministry, let alone find myself energized in this season of ministry, had it not been for this relationship. In my first few years of ministry without this accountability, my need to please others and prove myself to others created a workaholic life. These futile attempts to overcome my insecurity threatened the longevity and vitality of my family and ministry. Other than my marriage to Jan, nothing has done more to develop me as a disciple of Jesus.

An initially unintended outcome that developed along the way was our Ezra/Nehemiah relationship. Ezra was in vocational ministry (a priest) and Nehemiah was a marketplace leader (cupbearer to the king), and together they accomplished something neither could have accomplished without the other — the rebuilding of Jerusalem and a revival of spiritual commitment at the center of the communal life of Israel. Together, Paul and I have partnered in outreach and discipleship events and relationships that have been multiplied by our contribution together. Like Ezra and Nehemiah, it led the way to us experiencing “the joy of the Lord as our strength.”

I’m celebrating the blessing of an inspected life in the context of a spiritual or vertical friendship — a commitment not only to each other, but to help one another to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” Along the way, we’ve experienced the “things that will be added” as a result of a kingdom-first life.