Lemule Pulley (Denver 2012) entered the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative (DVULI) having served in youth ministry for more than 10 years. At that time, he was pouring everything into his ministry work at Colorado UpLift. With no energy left for family time and fellowship, Pulley had only fumes to offer his wife and kids at the end of his workday.
When he got the call to join the DVULI cohort Pulley says, “I embraced the opportunity [from] God and I said to Him, ‘If you have something for me you will provide and make it right.’”
Throughout the 15-month journey of the DVULI program, Pulley built profoundrelationships with the five other men in his cohort; Steven Cartwright, Antonio Lucero, Gary Mullins, Josh Sosa, and Jerry Torrez. These new relationships helped shape Pulley’s Breakthrough Plan and he made a firm commitment to accountability and fellowship.
“I stumbled across an authentic group of people that seek the Lord in their lives and in their ministries. I was not intentionally seeking to make friends, let alone build new relationships,” Pulley disclosed in his Plan. “I just wanted to come to this Initiative and learn and do my time...Unbeknownst to me, one of the things that I have been craving is fellowship with accountability.”
Now, five years after graduating from the DVULI, Pulley and the men of the Denver 2012 cohort continue to meet once a month for lunch, laughter, and accountability.
“We really valued our time together during our cohort. We were genuine with one another and we made a decision to keep the relationships with one another a priority,” says Pulley. “We all have busy lives with families, ministries, work, life challenges, and we want to be there for one another. Do we get it right all of the time...no, but we definitely consider one another brothers. The relationships are all [a work] in progress, but we are committed to one another.”
Pulley contends these three principles contribute to the success of their accountability formation:
- Commit to making time. Being friends on Facebook isn’t doing life together, nor is an occasional text or phone call an accountability relationship. The Denver 2012 cohort men make time for each other, month-after-month, and face-to-face.
- Be vulnerable. “You have to be willing to be transparent and want accountability. We wanted that truly for ourselves and we found it in our cohort,” asserts Pulley. Keep in mind, these relationships weren’t built in a day, and growth and relationships take time. Never underestimate the necessity of inviting others into our lives and to hold us accountable to grow and become the men and women God has called us to be.
- Hold each other accountable. “We encourage one another in the Lord and challenge each other to be the best husband, father, and man!” says Pulley. Some of the men in the cohort have even gone on to participate in other men’s ministry programs together, such as Crucible, a ministry that challenges men in their faith. “That's another thing that they have in common with each other,” said Pulley.
When asked about specific practices or rituals of the group, Pulley says, “The majority of us are in youth ministry or work with youth so we make ourselves available to come and share or be a resource for the others’ organization.” He also adds, “Eating and lots and lots of laughter is the only thing we practice.”
Reflecting on his experience with DVULI, Pulley says the journey was not what he thought it was going to be, “it has been better than I could have envisioned.” DVULI stresses the Five Core Values all work in tandem, and Accountability makes a solid foundation. Effective leaders regularly seek feedback and guidance from trusted sources. Yet, too often the busyness of ministry and isolation of the digital age make it difficult to maintain these critically important relationships, and urban youth workers lose the benefit of both the encouragement and correction they offer. “With DeVos being a part of my life now I am getting accountability,” Pulley says.
Feeling stuck in your own relationships? Below are three questions accountability friends ask:
- How is your relationship with God right now?
- Are there any unresolved conflicts in your circle of relationships right now?
- If Satan were to try to invalidate you, how might he do it?
McDonald, G. (2004). Rebuilding Your Broken World. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.