Last night Pastor Greenbean met with his accountability partners at a local burger joint. I have two men who partner with me in this and we meet somewhat regularly. Now, I can’t tell you what we talk about because that is confidential—confidentiality is necessary for honest dialogue among people—but I can share with you the basic aspects of accountability that make it necessary for me, and I believe for everyone who takes following Christ seriously.
- Spiritual growth check-up: The most baseline that an accountability partner or group does is provide a check-up for spiritual growth. I am asked questions like, “What are you reading in the Bible?” and “Who are you praying for?” For my group the questions are a little more pointed and the men ask me questions like, “What in your life has changed because you’ve read he Bible?” I know that it sounds so simple but just having people I know and trust ask me these questions keeps me honest and helps keep me spiritually vibrant.
- Speak truth into your life: To my knowledge there is no living human being who is perfect. Christ already broke the mold on that one. Everyone knows that, but we all live our lives as if we were perfect—at least we don’t want anyone to tell us where we err or what our shortcomings are. But in accountability people are given permission to speak truth into our lives—those things we need to hear and face up to in order to become better Christ-followers. I know that my accountability partners love me and my defensive shielding comes off so that I can hear the truth they speak.
- Someone to confess to: The Bible speaks often of confession, and preachers talk about it a lot too. A passage that has always bothered me is James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.” I’m okay with confessing to God, but it is the one another part that troubles me. I’m just Baptist enough to generally believe my sins are no one else’s business. But I need to confess to others; I know it. In my accountability group I am able to confess my sins without fear of judgment. It is nice how much healing emerges from that simple, obedient act.
Perhaps the most important thing about my accountability group is that we pray for each other. Over time I’ve found that I am emotionally invested in their spiritual needs and I pray for them not because of a list but because my heart is aligned with theirs. I believe they pray for me in the same way. There is also the benefit of availability. If ever I struggle; I know I can call one of these men, or they me; and we would help each other. That is the beauty of accountability.