Welcome to our Tuesday discussion. Today we will try to answer some of your tough questions. We know that if one person voices their question and concerns, there are many more who have the same questions, but just don’t ask. We thought this blog is the perfect place to answer them for everyone.
Do Christian accountability partners and friends truly help people overcome strongholds or temptations? Does accountability encourage change in people?
These are great questions! And so timely…with our message on Sunday and Pastor Scott mentioning this very thing. I must warn you…my answer to this is two fold and it is long, but I want to answer it fully. I also must tell you this is my (Mary Craig) opinion only, and I am not holding back either! I do pray that you will find accountability and get to experience it like the circle I have around me. There is nothing like it!
Part I…this is for a first time person finding accountability and getting their feet wet!
Like many, you may find yourself going around the same mountain again and again. This might be in the form of a compulsion to eat. In other situations, it might be a lack of discipline in a particular area, such as exercising or using your time wisely. If you’re finding yourself struggling with a goal, an accountability partner might be necessary in encouraging you to overcome what’s holding you back. A Christian accountability partner is there to encourage you, to be honest with you, and to talk to you through difficult times.
True Christian accountability requires honesty and openness and True Accountability is not For the Fainthearted! It’s not merely about meeting together to chat and catch up, but requires an understanding of nonverbal communication and an ability to ask straight questions. If you truly want to succeed, it’s important to find someone who is willing to ask the tough stuff. Some example questions are:
What was your biggest temptation this week? Did you overcome it, and if so, how?
How has your personal devotion time gone this week?
Have you prayed about this area?
When do you struggle the most?
What victories did you have this week?
Before you begin seeking out an accountability partner, spend time in prayer. See what direction God is taking you on your journey toward a better life. Be open and honest with yourself, and consider whether you are willing to be open and honest with another person. An accountability partner is there to help you make real change and growth, so be certain you’re ready for that step and commitment.
I must admit I am not the accountability partner that I would like to be. In fact, I am thinking that there has to be more to it. Maybe there’s a break down, maybe there are flaws, and maybe I am not really wired for this. Don’t get me wrong, I want to live a life of integrity and full of grace, but I don’t think Christian accountability is the answer, it always seems to start off great and be a good idea, but I desire more. Maybe you are at the same point, so read further.
Here is where I think there is a breaking down…
It seems I am more interested in justice than grace. I want to fix the problem. Responding this way leaves no room for grace. And each time I fail, what I need most is grace, not a lecture. A real second chance—and so do my partners! You see, I am wired…we are all wired actually, for self-protection and survival. When I am hurt, rejected, or sinning, I try to hide it, conceal it or just plain fake it. I don’t want to get hurt, so I am not really telling everything to my partners. This is where the accountability breaks down for me.
2) Bad environments:
Lets get real…if I was having an affair, I would not confess it at a local restaurant! Yet, that is exactly the kind of place I typically meet with my partners. I have tried to meet weekly, and it ends up being like a group of friends getting together, so the conversations tends to always lead in that direction…putting a cap on what to talk about.
My best conversations about my brokenness and struggles have come in non-typical environments. Places where I can be at ease and not threatened in any way. Have you ever know leaders to simply go away for a week and meet with a coach, counselor or mentor and have this time be very effective? I have seen it! To be honest, I would much rather have a week of meaningful and brutal honesty than to have 52 weeks of lid-capped talked at the local restaurant. Wouldn’t you? I need to find an environment that invites this type of honest talk and my partners and I will feel safe to do so.
3) The results:
Well, the results truly speak for themselves. If this accountability were big business, it would be in bailing-out. The breakdown of marriages, our finances, egos, sexual misconduct and the bending of every rule we can come across are just the tip of the failure ice-burg!
4) The Game:
If I wanted to I could spend the rest of my life convincing my partners how wonderful I am and just how much I have it together…but I don’t want to do that, nor can I if I am truthful. The problem with the accountability system as it is, I could do just that. I have the “Game” all figured out. It’s really not hard to do, is it? That’s a big problem!
Let’s re-think how to “do” accountability.
1) Radical Grace Is The Foundation:
Radical grace is the core for any healthy relationship. You cannot have true transparency or confession without it. I am going to encourage my partners and anyone else to make verbal commitments to each other and clearly state that they will stand by one another through the best AND the worst.
Most people live with the fear of rejection and allow this fear to dictate how honest they will be with others.
With radical grace, we are constantly demonstrating that this relationship is a safe place. Through our response to one another’s failures, our own deep confession, and reminding each other that we are in this for the long haul, we implement radical grace.
I am going to focus on the “yes,” not the “no.” Too often typical Christian accountability revolves around long lists of what NOT to do. We spend way too much time discussing and managing the sin. Often we lock onto the most minor unhealthy behaviors and think that’s going to prepare us for success in life. Unfortunately we operate on the faulty assumption that working on the symptoms will address the core problem. Bad idea!!!
Grace spurs us on to the “yes.” It revolves around the crazy good things that we should be engaging in. It pushes us to live a life of positive risks, creativity, adventure, and significance. We rally around each other in this and focus our relationships around this theme.
I truly believe a large amount of moral blowouts flow from boredom and dissatisfaction. We become depressed and unsatisfied with our life, career, and marriage and then we enter into dangerous territory.
Why? Because we are not focusing on the “Yes!”
I know that in my own life I become vulnerable when I have lost a sense of mission and purpose. Having grace in our life is important in reminding us of our calling.
When people fail or become involved in some scandal, too often we immediately consider the ramifications on the organization or company. I’ve talked to many Christians who are very concerned about when a pastor falls of how this impacts the cause of Christ.
Unfortunately, we place more concern on the damage to the brand of Christianity or the church instead of the fallen individual. I’ve seen horrific and hurtful things happen to people in the name of protecting the organization instead of the fallen person.
Quite frankly, that sucks!!!
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Christianity’s brand is failures and wrecked lives. Churches are places with messy people who do stupid things. I’ve certainly made my contribution to this effort with my mistakes.
Remembering grace, the importance is placed on the individual. It is about people, especially those who are most broken. The organization, church or company should take a back seat.
4) Multi Group Approach
Christian accountability often is accomplished in small groups that are too general or with just one person that puts too much responsibility on one individual.
Grace embraces having multiple layers of transparency and connection.
Then, you are going to need about 3-4 people who you have a deeper connection with and discuss harder things. There’s more structure with this group. This is what you need to consider being your core group.
But even beyond the core, you need one friend that has full access. Take complete responsibility for each others integrity, purity, and sustainability. I refer to this person as my “first call.” When the crap (excuse me here) hits the fan, I call her first.
Each layer moves into a greater level of commitment and grace and each layer have an important role.
This doesn’t happen over night either. Be patient, remain in prayer and keep a look out for friends around you that you can add to these parts in your accountability life.
I pray this answers your questions and help many ladies out! Get cracking, you have work to get started on!