As iron sharpens iron, so people can improve each other. (Proverbs 27:17)
Some friends may ruin you, but a real friend will be more loyal than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)
What is accountability and what are the guidelines for a relationship of accountability?
Common ground. Accountability requires common ground. We can’t hold each other accountable for things we don’t agree upon. It doesn’t mean we have to exactly agree about everything, but if I’m going to hold you accountable, I at least have to meet you where you are, stand on common ground, and understand to what it is you’re asking me to hold you accountable. Common ground is a timing thing, too. We might agree on something but not be willing to make the joint commitment to stand together in a specific season. It might just mean that we’re working on different issues. God has us in different places throughout the seasons of our lives. We don’t live in a linear fashion that can be overlaid across anyone’s lives. What you deal with today might be something I’m faced with in ten years and vice versa.
Respect. Accountability requires mutual respect. We can’t force someone into accountability. Bossiness isn’t the same as accountability. As much as we want something for someone else, without their willingness, our attempts to “hold them accountable” will just come off as insensitive correction. What we intend for support ends up looking and feeling like control.
Communication. Accountability requires ongoing communication. It can’t be effective in silence, because it’s the encouragement and challenges along the way that fuel accountability. Whether it’s a structured weekly time together or consistent unscheduled “check in” moments, asking and answering questions and inviting conversations along the journey are essential.
Authenticity. Accountability without authenticity is a farce. Transparency is key, because without it, we’re simply playing an ongoing game of charades. Authenticity is “being exactly and actually what is claimed,” and if you’re claiming who you want to be and who you are right now, accountability will support and guide you through the transformation. Without authenticity, any perceived transformation is a smokescreen for the necessary challenging changes essential for growth.
Humility. Accountability invites change, and change isn’t easy. Even when it excites us, we can quickly become uncomfortable as we actually begin to live through it. Change requires self-sacrifice. It requires setting ourselves aside in order to become something better. We die to ourselves in order to gain the better that God has planned. He uses others to help us, but we have to be willing to submit. It sounds harder than it actually is (although it’s certainly not easy). When we share common ground with someone we respect and are willing to authentically communicate with him or her, our ability to be humble becomes much easier.
You need accountability in your life. No one person will hold you accountable for absolutely everything, but we all have stuff in our lives—getting rid of junk and fostering healthy growth—that needs encouragement and conviction. God does the best job of holding us accountable, but he brings people into our lives to walk alongside. So, ask yourself…
What accountability relationships do I currently have?
How am I growing in my accountability relationships?
Are there any of the above factors that are missing in my accountability relationships?
Have I misconstrued accountability in any way?
Am I open to welcoming and ending accountability relationships—both on the giving and receiving end—as God intends and guides?
Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)