I have been appalled at what people perceive to be ‘accountability’ today. If we look at government and big corporations, it is unfortunately clear that they have no regard for the term. Even within the church and Christian circles where you would maybe expect more, I was hoping that it would have held greater authority than it currently does.
All of us have areas in our lives that we are not proud of – issues and temptations that require the support and perspective of others to overcome. If we truly want to live to the fullest, we are going to have to celebrate and utilize the tool of accountability. In my personal journey, I have encountered several misrepresentations of accountability that hurt, more than helped, my life and potential.
At the risk of being judgmental and negative, I feel it is important to list what accountability is not:
An authoritative obligation
The dynamic of authentic accountability is a strange one. You cannot solely be seen as ‘friends’ – although friendship can be developed out of accountability – but you can also not be ‘superior’ and ‘submitter’. The worst form of accountability I ever had was when someone tried to punish me for failing. Accountability is not a disciplinary hearing that happens once a week. The only thing that does is drive the person who needs to be held accountability away. If they would rather pretend things were fine than tell the truth, then you have failed as an accountability partner.
The text message
The principle of only texting is not enough when it comes to helping people in their struggles. Why – because you cannot be on-call 24/7 and won’t be able to respond immediately to everyone’s low moments. If accountability is simply a text message, it is easily overlooked and fragile in interpretation at best. There needs to be a deeper connection that goes beyond your phone screen. Obviously there are many moments in which you will message one another and check in. But face-to-face and phone calls are very key in an accountability relationship. The margin for deception is also much greater over text. Once again, I found it way too easy to simply avoid the core of my issues in moments of weakness and make people feel ‘good about themselves’ as accountability partners, rather than admit to something that is weighing on me over text message.
Focussing on the negative
If you are only accountable for one specific area of your life, it is very hard to actually find victory. As much as some would wish, no ones’ life is completely compartmentalized. There is always a knock-on effect when it comes to addiction and temptation. If you are only being kept accountable for the negative things in your life, you will end up resenting your accountability relationship. Both you and your accountability partner will find it exhausting to speak. You cannot select different people to be accountable for different areas of your life. It’s a shallow way to live and you’ll end up deceiving all of them and hiding behind your options.
A systems review
This is an interesting one – but I have had many conversations that have simply been a review of what happened with the phrase, “so what will you do different next time?” Now – this is an important element of accountability – but it cannot be the only thing you talk about. The physical situations you find yourself in are somewhat to blame, but there is a whole lot more emotional (and I believe spiritual) elements at play that cannot be ignored.
Now that I have highlighted a few things that are not true accountability it’s time to describe the kind of relationship that I have found to be true accountability.
True accountability is…
… self-initiated – every time. You cannot rely on someone else to be more interested and invested in your life than you are. I’m sorry but you are going to have to believe in yourself enough to be brutally honest, man or woman-up and be vulnerable with someone trustworthy and wise. That means you are the one contacting them. You are the one setting the level of vulnerability. That means you asking for wisdom. It means you letting them know what is going on via text if you haven’t been able to meet up in a while.
… holistic. It is a complete 360 degree commitment to being better. Instead of only saying what is wrong – you need to open up more. It is important to realize that it is not simply your present actions that have resulted in you struggling with pornography, alcohol, relationships or money. It has so much to do with your past – the lies you have given power, the horrible situations you have found yourself in and deep pain. You have to be willing to go to the route of your dysfunction with someone to truly find victory.
… truth-driven. This is one of the greatest keys – confessing your deeds, thoughts or emotions to someone on a consistent basis keeps your life in the light. Darkness is where we lose our power. As someone being accountable it is important to be committed to telling the truth. As someone holding others accountable it is important to be reminding those people about the truth – that they are loved, accepted no matter what and called to bigger things.
… judgement free and encouraging. True accountability means having a relationship where freedom is the prevailing atmosphere. The motivating interest is the improvement and success of a life destined for greatness.
It is the greatest honor to be able to walk journeys with some really brave and courageous men. I am overwhelmed by how much God loves and believes in them – and I am unapologetically (to the point of ruthlessness) committed to seeing them free from issues that are tampering with their identities.
God created us to be free and strong. He loves us despite our sins. He hates the sin only because it trips us up and kills our souls. The key to my victory over a crippling pornography addiction that ate away my self-confidence and completely killed my identity was knowing God. He counsels us first – and brings others around us that cheer us on towards victory. If you would like to know the God who made and loves you no matter what – click on the link below.