“I have to level with you.”
It usually precedes something unpleasant. Something you wish you didn’t have to hear. Something uncomfortable. It’s a phrase that may cause you’re stomach to cramp while waiting to hear the grueling details. If you’ve USED the phrase, it’s usually as an entry to some sort of confession. Something you may have rehearsed for weeks. Something you don’t really know how to bring up but you feel unavoidably necessary to get on the table.
See Exhibit A: The Ball Bearing Incident
In high school one of my friends and um…. some other guy were throwing a steel ball bearing back and forth in the gym. A great pass-time that I’m sure all have enjoyed. I mean, who needs a basketball when you have a nice, perfectly round, shiny, heavy, stainless steel ball bearing? Seriously. Anyway, during this time of memory making mischief, this guy’s friend decided to throw it at the basketball backboard. In my, I mean his defense, his friend did not announce his plan to turn the ball bearing into a polished projectile prior to the deed. Regardless, as the bearing made contact with the glass backboard, it was a horribly beautiful sight. In slow motion the bearing hit and through the safety glass, flying out of the back as quickly as it had entered the front. For an instant, the backboard remained intact, but mere milliseconds later – again in slow motion – the backboard transformed from a single piece of glass into a work of art. What seemed to be millions of little pieces of glass formed, all held perfectly in place by it’s superb safety coating, as the stately orange rim remained in it’s precise location, unaffected by the whole ordeal. Ok, back to normal time. A quick look around showed no one else in the area. So we – they – did what any other person in their situation would do. Ran. Got out of Dodge. Maybe no one saw – or heard what just happened. Yeah right. Someone always sees. That someone always tells someone and that someone tells someone and so on until…..
You get paged to the principal’s office during morning announcements.
Yes, it was me, and I received the dreaded page to the office. Man, that is a long walk from homeroom to the office. What to do? I mean, I knew WHY I was being called the office. But what exactly did he know?
Oh, he was good.
He either knew everything or enough to convince me because by the end of the conversation I spilled the beans about the ball bearing through backboard ordeal. I had to come clean. I had to get it on the table. I had to confess what was true in order to get freedom in my conscience. It wasn’t easy but I did it. (on a side note, it was easier for me than my friend because he had to buy a new backboard). Afterward, a burden was lifted. The truth was out there. I was able to move forward from that point because I was made…. accountable.
Now, I have to level with YOU.
Accountability is important in our lives as Christians. Having a brother or sister in the Lord that will hold us to our commitment is an asset, not a burden. We may be dealing with addiction or just every day stuff like finding time for prayer and bible study. We may be experiencing hurt from a situation or harboring unforgiveness from past events. Whatever the reason, having a person that you are able to confide in and that will challenge you when necessary is priceless. It really is a gift from God. God can use this person to sharpen you, to help you mature, and to weed out the things that are stunting your progress. They may even see things that we do not – and sometimes things we wish they didn’t. Don’t view it as negative, though. The bible says in Proverbs 27:17 that “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” In the short term it may be painful but in the long run, it is beneficial.
But be prepared because, at some point, they may even use the term:
Listen, I’ve gotta level with you…..
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)
Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:18 NIV)
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13 NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV)