retreating with the sinners

several years ago now, a few guys and i started meeting once a year for something like accountability. i say “something like” because i’ve found, over the years, that there’s a very limited sense to anyone’s ability to hold someone else accountable. maybe it would be more accurate to call this group a “support group”, or a “kick each others’ butts group”.

we fashioned ourselves, originally, around an older group of men we were aware of who met in a similar fashion. they called themselves the notorious sinners (yaconelli was in this group). so, we called ourselves the ‘young notorious sinners’. these days, we usually just refer to it as ‘yns’, since the youngest guy in the group is well into his 30s.

our format depends completely on each person’s willingness to get honest about what their year has been like, what areas of life they’re struggling with, and what areas they’d like input on. each guy shares for an hour or so, and that is followed by a time of questioning, and finally by recommendations. we’re pretty ruthless with each other, but it’s all done in a context of complete safety and encouragement.

we usually have 8 guys, but 3 couldn’t make it this year, which really sucks. but the 5 here – we’re in a funky rented home in desert hot springs, california, out by palm springs – are a unique, wonderful and mixed lot. one is a film-maker from toronto, one a internet start-up guy from atlanta, one a musician and episcopal priest from cleveland, one a marketing guy from san diego, and, well, me. all 5 of us have been in the group for a number of years, so there’s history and a deep understanding of each person’s themes and struggles. and, while we stay somewhat in touch through the year, there’s something very cool about meeting once a year, and reviewing where we’ve been and where we’re going.

so i’m here ‘til friday, and expect lots of laughter, some shared pain, a few tears, and a healthy helping of insight.

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