This is the second 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
Several years ago, my husband and I were out with a Realtor looking at houses. After showing us several, the sweet lady looked at me and said, “You guys are looking for two completely different houses, aren’t you?” Yep.
Looking for an accountability partner can be the same way. Your hard-driving, go-getter side is looking for a drill sargeant who will make you drop and give ’em twenty if you are late on a single task. Your overwhelmed, too-much-to-do side just wants a friend who will sweetly ask about once a month if you’ve written a blog post lately.
Either one of those choices is completely legitimate, depending on your situation and your goals. So before you start trying to find an accountability partner, it might help to decide what you really want.
Start by reviewing why you need a ministry accountability partner and then asking yourself these questions:
- Do I just want someone to keep me on task?
- Do I need a sounding board to bounce ideas off?
- Am I willing to provide accountability for my partner in a two-way relationship?
- Do I need a face-to-face connection?
- Is it important to have (or develop) a personal relationship or is all business okay?
- Do I need help deciding what to do before someone can make sure I have done it?
- Is this something I am willing to invest money in?
All of these will play into your search for the right piece of iron to sharpen your dull edges.
Now that you have a clear picture of what you are looking for, there are several places you may find your ideal accountability partner, and each have their pros and cons.
Pros: Your close friends, especially close local friends, likely have the most access to you. They see how you operate between check-ins and can help you make a more honest assessment of how committed you’ve been to your ministry goals. Frequent contact means frequent opportunities for your accountability friend to give you a little push in the right direction.
Cons: Unless your friend is also involved in building a ministry, she may not understand the importance of some tasks on your list. She may also be more likely to let you slide when she sees first hand what is going on in your life. A friend is more likely to say “yes” when you ask her to be your accountability partner, but if there is no personal connection between your goals and your friend, she is less likely to follow through as strong partner.
Where to Find One: Look in your circle of friends for that Type A, organized girl who seems to be making progress on her own goals.
A Peer in a two-way accountability relationship
Pros: When you are slogging your way through the tough days of establishing your ministry, there is nothing more comforting than having someone to slog along with you. A peer who is after the same thing you are understands the hard places and the significance of your small victories. She can offer helpful advice based on her own experience and you can learn together. There may also be a bit of healthy competition between the partners as they push each other towards their very best.
Another option along these lines is a small mastermind group. Four or five people in similar or different ministries can offer accountability and shared experience with everyone in the group.
Cons: Things can get dicey when one partner has more success than the other. The comparison monster rears its ugly head and creates conflict and hurt feelings. If your partner is at the same stage as you, she may not have any better answers to your tough questions than you do.
Where to Find One: Facebook groups are a great place to find this type of accountability partner. If the group rules permit it, just post in the group and you will likely get several responses. You may also look at conferences and other educational events that have networking opportunities.
A Mentor in a one-way accountability relationship
Pros: This is all about you. The entire purpose of this relationship is helping you be more effective. And while that may sound a little selfish, sometimes you are so stuck that you don’t feel like you have anything to offer anyone else. A good mentor is willing to invest in you, share her experience and brainstorm ideas with you because she believes in what God has called you to do.
Cons: This relationship is totally dependent on the commitment of the mentor to help someone else. While many people are willing to mentor for a short time, a mentor who is also in the heat of reaching her own ministry goals may not have the time to commit long term.
Where to Find One: Look for someone who may be only one or two steps ahead of you. Go through your inbox and see who you are subscribed to.
A Business or Ministry Coach
Pros: Someone who does accountability coaching as a business should be very dependable to check-in with you. You’ll benefit from not only her personal experience, but also what she learns from her other clients. She’ll help you work through your goals and the steps to get there in a meaningful, logical way. A good coach will be encouraging and understanding, but won’t let you off the hook too easily. Instead of just looking at what you did and didn’t do, she’ll also help you figure out why and develop strategies for removing future roadblocks.
Cons: A professional coach can be expensive. Depending on the experience of the coach, you can expect to pay hundreds of dollars a month or even thousands for a multiple-month experience. It may take 2 – 3 months before you and your coach develop a history and a rhythm that drives results in your ministry, so don’t quit on it too soon.
Where to Find One: Someone who has been successful in a similar area may make a great coach, but that level of specific expertise is not always necessary. Each coach will have a different style and if true accountability is what you are looking for (as opposed to training), style may be more important than substance. Someone you trust, who believes in you and your dream, who will walk along side you through the hard places and the successes may be more helpful than one piling more information and to-dos on your plate. Many of your favorite bloggers offer coaching services. Check their websites for a Services or “Work With Me” page or watch their newsletter for offers.