Were any of y’all THAT kid? The kid that grew up going to summer camp and talked about it way too much for way too many years? Confession: I’m still that kid. It’s because summer camp changed my life in so many ways! If I could choose the one lesson that has affected my life the most from that time, it would be accountability.
What do you think of when you hear that word? Before my summers at camp I thought accountability was just meeting with someone once a week, confessing your sins and trying harder the next week. I thought accountability was telling a friend you were or weren’t going to do something and then telling them you were guilty when you didn’t stick to that. I do think that’s an aspect of accountability, but I think there is so much more than that. In fact, I think we have settled for a watered-down version of accountability.
After focusing on accountability for all these years, I would describe true accountability less as a weekly meeting and more so as a way of life.
Before we get into this too far, let’s talk about a few things that accountability is NOT:
- Accountability is not to make you feel better or look like a better Christian. You don’t get to just “have an accountability partner” and check the box of doing the Christian thing. The point isn’t to simply confess your sins and walk away proud of yourself for doing so.
- Accountability is not only for mature Christians. For some reason, accountability is a spiritual discipline that our society has put at the end of the list. After you read your Bible, after you serve at the church, after you join a home group, then you’re ready for an accountability partner. Of course, you should do all of those things, but you don’t need to do every single one of those before you lean into accountability. Jump into accountability early on in your Christian walk.
Now we can talk about what accountability IS.
- Accountability is a way to be reminded of your convictions daily. When I know I will have to recount my actions to another human later in the week, I am much more aware of the Spirit’s leading in the moment.
Here’s what that has looked like in my life: For years now I have met with my “accountability partner” once a week and gone over the same 10 questions. Because my friend and I have been doing this so consistently and for so long, not only do we have our 10 questions memorized, but not a day goes by that one of those questions doesn’t pop into my head and remind me to apply them. It has changed my mindset throughout the day and raised my awareness of the Spirit.
- Accountability is also a safe place where you can be completely open. When you talk to your accountability partner it is your responsibility to hide nothing because that is how true life-change will begin to happen. The tenth question my partner and I ask each other is “Did you leave anything hidden?” If we want to grow, we must be honest.
- At the same time, accountability is a friendship that is empowered to speak truth into your life. Your partner is not just a sounding board who’s there to say sorry and that they understand your temptations. If you stop there, that is a cop-out. Instead, they should gently bring so much truth that you know you will walk away looking more like the Lord and less like your flesh.
Now, why don’t we engage in accountability? Why haven’t more of us made it a bigger priority? There are so many reasons, but here are some of the most common:
- We are embarrassed. We think if we will be truly open with someone then we will be “found out.” We won’t be able to keep this reputation we’ve built for ourselves if we’re honest.
- We are scared. When you confess your sins out loud, suddenly you see yourself for who you really are. We are scared to face our sin and we’d rather avoid it than let God work it out of our lives.
- We don’t know where to start. Maybe you want to be held accountable but don’t know who to have as a partner or what questions to ask each other. Don’t let this be a reason you don’t try.
The reason I still talk about summer camp is because working there was like a little piece of heaven on earth. It was an opportunity to live out true community. You see, accountability is God’s design for friendship and community. Outside of my marriage, I cannot think of a more God-honoring, Bible-reflecting friendship than my relationship with my accountability partner. The potential embarrassment, the confusion and the effort it takes to start is all more than worth it. I invite you to join me in seeing God at work through having an accountability partner.
New Ruth devotional out now!
This 10-part devotional, written by Minister to Men Ken Miller, will take you deeper into the book of Ruth. It’s a story of God at work in the lives of everyday people — Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. We hope it encourages and helps you see that God is at work in the details of your life too.
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