Most don't naturally run towards accountability, they run away. Think about it, why would anyone want people looking at the deepest areas of life? When you have honest vulnerability you often lose control when you let someone else into the struggle. They may question what you don't want questioned. There can be friction. I believe that's why it's called "iron sharpening iron".
After the last blog someone questioned whether or not accountability was Biblical. I'm not sure the word is in the Bible but the concept is definitely all throughout the scripture. For example, confessing your sins one to another is very Biblical. The Romans 12 description of the body and how we all belong to each other, gives us sense in which not only do we have permission to poke around in each others lives, we have a responsibility to.
Again, because of the seduction of my flesh I'm not sure how I would do without having space in my life for others to honestly help me in my struggle and failure.
Here are few lessons I've learned along the way in regards to my accountability relationships. I hope this will challenge and motivate you to find people with which you can be totally transparent.
Make sure you're ready to be vulnerable.
My experience has been that most are not ready to let people into their lives. We may say we're ready and we may let people in part way but for these relationships to have greatest impact we have to be totally vulnerable. That means no secrets. Are you ready?
To be really honest sometimes I'm ready and sometimes I'm not. Sometimes I'm totally honest and vulnerable, sometimes I share just enough to get off the hook. If you're afraid to share struggle with others ask God to give you the courage you need. He'll give you what you need but you will continually need his help in this area.
This can be a long process. When I first moved to Dallas I began to pray that God would raise up a couple of guys with whom I could be vulnerable. For the first time in my life I'm hanging with a couple of guys who are a little younger than I am. (At least I look younger than them) When thinking through who I would invite to be in my group here's some questions I asked.
1. When I share sin with this person will they be shocked and think less of me?
2. Is this person self aware enough to realize they have struggles in their own life?
3. Is this a person I enjoy hanging out with?
4. Are they somehow involved in my daily life?
5. Is this a person who will listen and be teachable?
6. Will this person love me enough to ask the hard questions?
7. Are they too busy to spend time?
Again, this can take a while. Some of you are not naturally in places where vulnerability is valued. In fact the opposite is true. Unfortunately you may have to work to find a couple of guys or women. Pray, look and don't give up. You may be amazed what God may do.
Don't limit accountability relationships to a meeting
Accountability isn't a meeting it's a relationship. Sure, it's important to have a time when you sit down and have intentional conversation, but it's kind of weird and nonorganic when all you have is a meeting. Here's how my group works. We try to meet weekly and each of us shares how things are going in our walk with Jesus, our marriages and anything else happening in our lives. But we also talk to each other on the phone at least every couple of days. If Bryan is in a place of struggle he texts us and asks us to pray and check on him later. If I'm traveling and may have a more intense time of temptation my guys know what's going on and pray for me and check on me. Accountability relationship is a lifestyle not a meeting. Sure the meeting is important but it's just small part of the relationship.
Make accountability more than sharing failure
Confession is an important part of the relationship but what if we shared with our friends before a failure. I go through times in my life when I know I'm going to have a more intense time of struggle. For example, if I'm up in front of people in a teaching situation I may be more susceptible to arrogance and pride. My partners know that and may pray specifically for my humility. Learn your own struggle patterns and share with people who are in the game with you when you feel you might be in for a time of greater struggle.
So, are you an island or do you have people in your life who know the good the bad and the ugly? May we be men and women who not only talk Jesus but live it out. I desperately want my words to reflect what's going on in my heart. I long for what happens in public to be consistent with what happens in private.