This is the third post in the Iron-Clad Accountability series, where we are exploring why we need a ministry accountability partner, how to find one, how to make our accountability check-in productive and what to do when accountability gets rough. Find the other posts in the series here.
As we’ve already learned, accountability relationships can take many forms …. two-way vs. one-way, peer vs. mentor. But the heart of the accountability relationship is, well …, the relationship. Whether you’ve chosen an old friend to hold you accountable, or hired a coach you barely know, developing honest and trusting communication with your partner is the key for productive accountability check-in sessions.
I’ve found these steps to be helpful with my coaching clients. You can adapt them to fit the conditions of your own accountability relationships.
Agree to a set time and frequency
One benefit of accountability is establishing some structure in your planning and work processes. So it’s important that you establish a set time and frequency to meet with your accountability partner. Just “letting if float” to whenever it is convenient opens the door to procrastination when things are tough.
Make your check-in a priority and make it stick.
Prepare in advance for your accountability check-in
Before your check-in, think through the topics you want to discuss. This habit of self-reflection and evaluation will help you separate the things you can handle on your own from the ones you need to talk through with your accountability partner.
Agree on the structure of the check-in
This is especially important if you have a two-way relationship where you are providing accountability for each other. Head off conflict by agreeing how much time will be spent focusing on each person.
Depending on how often and how long you meet, consider alternating meetings where one person gives a brief update then you focus on the other for the rest of the meeting. A deeper dive every other week may be more valuable than just covering the surface every week.
Take notes and make commitments
Accountability check-in sessions can be a healthy place to vent about your frustrations, but get the venting out of your system and ask the important question: What are you going to do about it? We won’t make progress until we quit venting and start changing.
Accountability separates the wishers in life from the action-takers that care enough about their future to account for their daily actions. –John Di Lemme
Keeping notes of the topics discussed will keep the conversation from wandering too far off topic. Start by reviewing actions from the last session. Then have an open discussion about how things are going. These questions may trigger some thoughts for you and your accountability partner:
- How has God blessed you this week?
- What were your obstacles?
- What new opportunities have presented themselves?
- What new struggles have arisen?
- Did you accomplish what you planned to?
- What resources do you need to be successful?
- What have we not discussed that we should?
Before the end of the session, agree on actionable next steps and set a date for your next session.
Make it personal
Even if you have hired a business or ministry coach as your accountability partner, your sessions will be more productive if you are getting to know each other personally. Accountability is not about finding fault or pointing out all the places you’ve fallen short. It’s about joining hands and working together towards your calling and goals.