I’ve heard a lot of people (mostly zealous younger men) say that they needed to “call out” some person in their life whose behavior was falling short of a standard. The standard may have been previously agreed upon, or just a standard of moral acceptability, as interpreted from the bible by this impassioned friend. You know the kind:
• Everything is black and white.
• They feel a need to protect some seemingly fragile moral code.
• The bible is textual ammo against sin instead of a way of love.
• They say it’s for the guilty party’s own good, but person in question feels smaller after the interactions.
• There’s usually a double-standard: The other’s “sin” is worse or different than whatever imperfections exist in their own life.
Standards for living are important, but it’s why we have them and how we offer them that distinguishes the helpful from the hurtful.
When I say accountability means calling up, not calling out, I’m hoping to redeem the word, “accountability.” Coaches, managers, trainers, and even trusted friends can hold us to agreed upon standards. But calling UP is better than call out. Calling up is speaking life to a person. Empowering them, inspiring them, and holding up a mirror…
“You’re better than this. You don’t need to limit your experience of life. You don’t need to settle for this lesser thing. You have the strength to overcome this challenge. You can lean on me. God is with. There’s more in you…!”
That’s calling up.
Calling out sounds more critical, more judgmental. Calling out is about pointing out the fault or the failure. It reduces a person to their behavior—specifically, their worst behaviors—often causing psychological, emotional, and spiritual damage as identity becomes associated with “the worst of me” instead of “the best in me.”
Critics will object to “coddling” in our everyone-gets-a-trophy culture raised by helicopter parents. But this this different. This is just honest psychology and emotional/spiritual health. And it’s biblical. This is called speaking the truth in love.
Call up, not out.