This is the last 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-ins productive and what to do when accountability gets rough. Find the other posts in the series here.
We know that God has created us for community. One of most-quoted verses about community comes from the book of Hebrews.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
This verse encourages us to not give up on each other in the rough times, but to continuing encouraging and supporting each other. These ideas hold true in our accountability relationships as well as our other relationships within our church body.
And just as God gave us some rules for holy living in Colossians 3 to help us live in community and harmony, we need to establish some rules in our accountability relationships to keep it positive and productive.
RULES FOR HEALTHY ACCOUNTABILITY
1. No Comparing
The Comparison Trap can become a problem in a two-way peer accountability relationship when one person starts to experience more success than the other. It can lead to jealously and cracks in the relationship. Instead of comparing yourself to someone else, ask instead “What can I learn from her?” That simple question can restore the balance in the relationship.
2. Identify barriers rather than finding fault
That verse in Hebrews doesn’t say “needle each other to death.” It says “spur one another on.” Picking apart all the things someone may have done wrong and heaping guilt on them rarely encourages them to do better. But gentle prodding and figuring out what actions and attitudes may be preventing success will be more effective.
3. Meet consistently, no matter what
Have you ever made excuses not to go to the doctor when you know he’s going to fuss at you about your weight or some other thing you haven’t been doing right? Accountability meetings can be the same way. We may be tempted to cancel the meeting if we know we haven’t done the things we committed to do.
But we are encouraged to not give up on meeting together. Even when it’s hard. Even when the news is not good. In fact, that is when we need our accountability partners the most. We need them spur us on, to encourage us, to help us figure out how to get past our barriers.
4. Avoid being defensive
A good accountability partner will push and prod you. They won’t accept your easy answers, but help you dig deep to bring out the very best in you. So avoid resisting their questions. Answer honestly and without being defensive. Remember the purpose of the relationship is not to find fault or to embarrass or shame you, but to help you move forward. And you can’t do that without getting to the core issues that are creating barriers.
5. Be honest if it’s not working
Sometimes, even when we give it our best effort, the accountability relationship just doesn’t work out. One person quits for what may be legimate reasons. Or the two partners are just not gelling together. That’s okay. Give each other permission to say “This isn’t working for me.” And then either figure out how to fix it, or move on to find a new partner.
But no matter what, don’t give up on accountability. Keep trying until you find the right partner that clicks with you. Your dreams are too big and your calling is too important to be left to your own waxing and waning efforts and feelings. A great accountability partner will fill in the gaps of your motivation …. “all the more as you see the Day approaching.”