How to… Be Accountable

So far in my Christian life, I have been influenced tremendously by both the law (what I should and should not do, obeying the rules) and my own nature (the desires of the flesh). As Kathy Howard says in The Proper Climate – “Fruit of the Spirit” Lesson 1, “freedom cannot be found in observing the Law. And indulging our sinful nature will never produce the righteous life God desires.” Instead, true freedom is found as we “live according to… life in the Holy Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). (For a terrific study on living in the Holy Spirit and specifically on the fruit of the Spirit, please check out the wonderful Summer Bible study by Kathy Howard titled Fruit of the Spirit: Plant Grow & Cultivate.)

Recently, a friend and I have been pushing each other to focus more on walking in and living life as directed by the Holy Spirit. We are challenging each other tremendously in this area. Had we not been, I am not sure Kathy’s Fruit of the Spirit study would have caught my attention. Why? Having an accountability partner, something I longed for my whole adult life but couldn’t find, has played a large role in tuning my spirit to help me be more in tuned to the Holy Spirit.

Informally, this type of accountability can happen when a body of believers comes together regularly in worship and small group study. It can also happen when a group of runners gather every Saturday morning for their “long runs.” In a more formal sense, the idea of an accountability partner provides a unique way to be encouraged on a more intimate level. Whether formal or informal and whatever the focus and purpose, the benefits of accountability increase when individuals are…

  1. Meeting regularly. My accountability partner and I meet for discussion about every other week, and we see each other at church on Sundays. Face-to-face connections provide the glue for relationships. Hebrews 10:25 warns against stopping this habit and connects it with the idea of accountability.
  2. Connecting often. In our busy culture, meeting face-to-face regularly can be a struggle. Fortunately, that same culture gives a multitude of ways to connect in between face-to-face meetings. Blogs, email, Facebook, and Twitter provide unique ways to connect with others. The truth that No Man Is An Island holds true more today than ever.
  3. Teachable. When I taught college English classes years ago, most students wanted to learn at least to some extent. But a few students wanted to get a passing grade without learning. This isn’t possible in college, and it’s not possible in life either. In order to move toward excellence, one must be willing to learn from others. (Proverbs 23:12)
  4. Transparent. This does not necessarily mean airing one’s dirty laundry, but it does mean an honesty that gives room for true accountability. I have been in what I thought was an accountability relationship where the other person was not teachable or completely transparent, and I discovered that not only was I wasting my time but “casting pearls to swine” too (Matthew 7:6).
  5. Prepared. Just like taking a test without having studied is unwise, so too is expecting accountability to take place when you’ve made no effort to make progress. To prepare for the time with my accountability partner, we both make notes about what the Holy Spirit lays on our hearts, and we come ready to discuss those. There are many ways to prepare for accountability, and the specifics really depend on the unique reasons behind the partnership.

Without question, God encourages the idea of accountability. Hebrews 10:24 says to “think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.” Whether formally or informally, having people we can encourage and be encouraged by goes a long way in helping us to “hold tightly to the hope we say we have” as well as to “encourage and warn each other, especially now as they day of his coming back again is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23, 25).

DISCUSSION: What other elements need to exist in accountability relationships?

Related Posts:

How to… Be Encouraging Just By Being You

Sunday Reflections… No Man is an Island

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Let’s Have Coffee

personal-pic-1Coffee has gotten a bad rap. Sure, too much coffee often has a negative impact (nervousness, adrenal strain, and sleep reduction to name a few), but there are some terrific benefits coffee has to offer as well.

So, grab a cup of coffee (if you haven’t had too much already), and join me for a look at the positive side of that magical brew that has been around for centuries. (Coffee originated in Ethiopia. Some say its cultivation began in the 9th century while others claim it’s been around since AD 575.)

Health Benefits

Coffee has a high level of antioxidants, enzymes and nutrients that help prevent disease. It actually has more antioxidants than green tea. It also speeds up metabolism and reduces hunger, aiding in weight loss. Because coffee is a diuretic, it also helps flush the bladder and prevent it from developing disease.

In a very real sense, coffee is a healthy energy drink. Many people even use it in smoothies. Step aside green smoothies and Red Bull!

Mental Benefits

Coffee enhances brain function by aiding performance and memory function. This enhanced brain function helps those who struggling with boredom or fatigue by giving them a much-needed mid-day mental perk. In much the same way, it also works as an anti-depressant.

In addition, but spending time having coffee with friends is also great therapy, perhaps equal only to the therapy sessions with my exercise partner. As expensive as specialty coffee is, it’s still way cheaper than seeing an actual therapist.

Nostalgic Benefits

When I was a teenager, my mom brought me coffee in bed every morning to help wake me up. While this likely created my coffee addiction, this memory serves as a pleasant reminder of the man ways my mom showed me she loved me.

Experts say the sense of smell evokes strong memories. (See “The Nose, an Emotional Time Machine” for an interesting read on the power of smell.) Whenever I smell coffee, I feel calmer, and I think it’s because I associate it with so many great memories created having coffee with people I care about.

Social Benefits

Coffee has long been a center of business meetings and social gatherings. Rarely do you find any such event that does not at least have coffee available. When people who haven’t seen each other in a while cross paths coincidentally, you often hear, “We should do coffee soon!”

My husband and I try to spend one-on-one time together often, and often that is over a cup of coffee. I have several friends with whom I also try to meet regularly for coffee, which really means spending time chatting and catching up with life.

The phrase “Let’s have coffee” seems to offer a comfortable way of saying, “I miss you and want to spend more time with you.” Even my non-coffee-drinking friends will “have coffee” with me, and we end up creating great memories as well as spending valuable time strengthening our relationship.

Consider Coffee Balance

As with so many aspects of life, balance is key. Too much coffee, and you’re constantly jittery and craving more coffee. Too much coffee can have negative health benefits as well (such as those already mentioned).

But, a cup or two, strategically placed serves to increase productivity and energy not to mention add tremendously to your social life and strengthen relationships. Coffee can actually be a medium through which your life finds balance.