Imagine yourself a soldier, suddenly alone amidst a pitched battle with the enemy completely encircling you. You dodge a bullet here, jump in a foxhole there, ducking your head every chance you can get. Finally as things go relatively quiet, you peer out from where you had been holed up darting around to find your next vantage point. Suddenly out of nowhere another explosion close by rocks you to your face. You scramble to right yourself after the surprising strike, frantically searching for the direction of the most recent attack.
Sound pretty foreign right now, huh? Or perhaps it is quite real considering recent world events, as we are broadcasted pictures daily of friends, neighbors, relatives, and countrymen, locked in a situation not unlike the one described above. But let’s imagine for a moment that the solider described above is really you, and the assailant attacking you is none other than the enemy of our souls. Bullets can be seen as dodged temptations, explosions, crushing defeats, and the running, jumping, hiding, peering, representing a reactive lifestyle.
Perhaps were you that solider the situation might look a little different had you had other soldiers by your side whom you could trust. Someone to help you up, or tell you when a bullet is coming, or be there to help you when you yell “medic!”. Well, if you have not guessed yet, I am talking about accountability. And let’s throw out all of those words that I used like: “imagine yourself” or “perhaps,” because you are that solider, Christian, and we are locked in a daily struggle.
Back in March, Tim Bredamus wrote to us on the importance of accountability. I would encourage you all to reread it those of you who have already done so, and read it those of you who have not. Today I would like to offer you specific strategies for implementing proactive effective accountability in your life with people that you can trust, count on, and stand by amidst struggle.
I. Finding & Building Your Group
You friends are a good place to start looking, but not necessarily a prerequisite for an effective accountability group. You want to find people with certain qualities that will challenge you to grow in the Lord. The following are a list of things to look for:
- Someone who has a sincere faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and holds a supreme value for scripture in their lives.
- Someone who will be honest rather than patronizing.
- Someone of the same gender, so you can share intimate struggles.
- Someone who will challenge you to grow close to God rather than further away.
- Someone you can count on during times of your own weakness.
- Someone who will pray for you.
These are only a few things to look for. It is important that it will be a person who will challenge you to grow into the man/woman of God we are called to be, not simply somebody you feel good being around. Also, please understand you generally should be all of these things to them. Iron sharpens iron.
Get a group together (a group starts with 2 and should be no larger than 4 or 5) and start meeting today! I will continue with things to do when you are in your meeting.
II. What To Do When You Get There
Proactive effective accountability (you do the acronym) is not achieved with meeting and talking about your day, trading half-sincere sighs for each other’s struggles. It happens when each of us are challenged to be changed more into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ. Below are specific activities you can do to help you along in this process.
- Questioning: Ask REAL questions, ones that might even initially feel uncomfortable. Not for shock value, but to get a real understanding of there current spiritual and emotional condition. YOU MUST ANSWER WITH THE TRUTH! Or none of this will really be that effective.
- Challenging: Love and care enough for one another not to allow mediocre standards in your lives. Search out scripture together for what it means to be a man/woman of God. Determine if our lives line up, and urge each other on in love to live up to them (kicking in love may sometimes be required). You must not be afraid to call on another out on problems you see, not in a spirit of condemnation but in one of love and genuine challenge.
- Advising: Offer sound advice and instruction on practical ways to overcome the struggles you are dealing with. Perhaps share means by which the Lord has helped you overcome, referencing scripture and practical tools as well as Biblical advice for real world issues.
- Encouraging: Most importantly, encourage one another in the Truth of God’s Word. Pray for one another. When someone has fallen BE THERE to help them back up. Too many of us are isolated in our own defeats and weaknesses—you must make use of the Body of Christ for which God designed it.
I would like to also leave you with a few pitfalls to avoid when participating in accountability. Listed below you find four items NOT TO DO when you are practicing proactive effective accountability.
- General confession: Get down to the specifics, don’t beat around the bush.
- Confusing confession with repentance: Just because you mentioned you have a struggle or have screwed up does not mean you have repented and asked for forgiveness. God has called us to have repentant hearts and if so he will “abundantly pardon.”
- Offering sympathy without a challenge: Accountability is no place for “soothsayers” and patronizers. Be sensitive to one another, but never neglect the challenge. Reading some of the Epistles of Paul will bring more clarity on how to do this.
- No Follow-up: If someone admits to a desperate need or a personal struggle, follow-up continually with him or her, putting into practice the above mentioned items.
Accountability is not an end-all for spiritual struggles. We must first and most importantly go to God through our Lord Jesus Christ for the strength that we need to live a victorious life. However, accountability can be an effective tool in holding to the likeness of Christ. We are all in a pitched struggle against the enemy of our souls and a world that would readily see us become more like it than that of our Loving Creator. We must stand together as the Body of Christ, strengthening and encouraging one another on in this race that has been laid out before us.
Please e-mail anyone on the Deeper Devotion team if you have any questions or want further explanation of these areas.
A great resource for this area that you can pick-up is Joshua Harris’ Not Even a Hint.