So far in my Christian life, I have been influenced tremendously by both the law (i.e., what I should and should not do, obeying the rules) and my own nature (i.e., 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). Having accountability has played a large role in tuning my spirit to help me be more in tuned to the Holy Spirit.
Formal & Informal Accountability
Informally, this type of accountability happens 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:
- Meet regularly. 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.
- Connect 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.
- Are teachable. When I taught college English classes years ago, most students wanted to learn at least to some extent. A few students wanted to get a passing grade without learning, though. 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)
- Are transparent. This does not necessarily mean airing one’s dirty laundry, but it does mean an honesty that cultivates 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).
- Are 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. 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. Whether formally or informally, having people we can encourage and be encouraged by goes a long way in helping us grow both as individuals and in our relationships with others and with God.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 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 10:23-25)