My “Core Group.”

I grew up around organizational boards and accountability groups. When we moved to Lebanon in 1992 we had a board. But I knew that our legal non-profit board wouldn’t be enough – we’d need more. So I formed an email list in 1994 and called it “My Accountability Team.” I added basically added any and every one I respected. I think it was about 20 people.

I’d send them an email about once a month and let them know what I was doing or thinking of doing and would ask for input. About a third would reply with something like “Great, praying for you.” A third wouldn’t reply at all. And a third would give some sort of input. From the pool of the 6 or 7 that would give input, I could basically find any answer I wanted. “Go for it.” Or…”Don’t do it.” Or…whatever. It was all there in the Smorgasbord of “accountability.”

In fact, I think I learned during that period of my life, that there are two keys to real accountability:

I have to want it. Really and honestly want it.
It has to be small enough and specific enough that I can’t simply look for the “answers” I want.

Towards the latter years of our lives in Beirut – starting in about 2002 – we formed what we’ve called our “Core Group.” It’s been three couples. They all know us well. We’ve been friends for years. They’ve been to Lebanon and around the Middle East with us. They know our kids. Our marriage. Our finances. They are not my legal board (I still have one of those as well), but they are a group of life-long committed friends who we trust and love.

But one of them stands out – Rick Malouf. He is the one I talk to every week. Usually several times a week.

We travel together. He’s taught me about the power of friendship. He’s prayed for me when I needed hope. Gave me direction when I lacked clarity. Helped with big decisions and small. I think we call it “being a friend.” That’s Rick. A friend. Maybe the most powerful kind of mentor there is.

Here’s to our “Core Group.” And here’s to my buddy, Rick! You are amazing!