The last couple of posts in this series have dealt with the influences around us and how to “change the channel”. But there is more that can be done to help us in making the changes in our lives that the Lord calls upon us to make in our lives. Especially tough sins may require someone to be accountable to, an accountability partner (AP).
Now, of course, we’re always accountable to God, He sees everything we do, knows everything we think, hears everything we say, and will hold us to account for all of it on Judgment Day. The problem is that we human beings don’t see Him with our eyes of flesh; we don’t literally see His disappointment or literally hear His rebuke. And this is why it can be useful to ask a trusted brother or sister to hold us accountable regarding those difficult things in our lives that we want to change.
The New Testament gives us a foundation for such helpers in our lives. Galatians 6:1, 2 tells us, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” One of the reasons we gather together weekly is for such encouragement: (Hebrews 10:24, 25) “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Likewise, 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says to, “…encourage one another and build each other up…”
There are several things that could be said about how to go about doing something like this, but here are a few rules to work with…
- Find a trusted and reliable brother or sister to be your AP. Once chosen, take the him or her fully into your confidence. Share what you want to change, what your temptations are, what your challenges are, where your likely to fail, and some of the reasons that you want to change (there ought to be more than one—the most important being the Lord, of course).
- The second step is one that is easy to do, but hard to live with: Give permission to your AP to ask tons of tough, uncomfortable questions. Generally speaking, one of the biggest obstacles to changing the tough sins in our lives is that most of us are pretty at generous excusing ourselves for our bad behavior, words, attitudes, or thoughts. Part of having an AP is keep us honest with ourselves, expose our excuses as unacceptable, and call sin a sin. That is made possible, only if the AP has your permission to ask you hard personal questions. And when the hard questions come, confess freely. Nothing is gained by keeping things back.
- Meet regularly without fail. You and your AP will have to determine when to meet and how often; but when those plans have been made, you must commit yourself to faithfully to make your appointment. Sometimes when a person has failed, the instinct to hide (just like Adam and Eve) kicks in—in the form of discovering that you had another not-to-be-missed appointment, or conveniently forgetting the AP appointment, or something else. There are things to be learned from failure, that you and your AP can and should talk about.
- Set up a number of small goals and celebrate wins. As you and your AP set things up, it can be really useful to set up goals—tiny goals—for yourself. Why tiny goals? First, tiny goals are more doable than big ones. Second, just because they are tiny doesn’t mean that progress isn’t being made; lots of tiny successes start adding up to larger and larger successes. And as you find success in the tiny goals, celebrate! Another reason to have an AP is to have someone to celebrate your success with.
If overcoming some sins in your life is proving more difficult that you thought, an accountability partner just might help. And let’s talk about our spiritual “Accountability Partner” next time.