Strong accountability partnerships are an essential part of every Christian's life. But it's important to think a little differently about the role accountability serves. Quite often in Christian circles, we think of the act of accountability as being about inviting people into your life to make sure you’re not doing unhealthy stuff.
And while curbing unproductive behavior can be an element of the accountability relationship, it shouldn't be the whole of it. When accountability is healthy, it can be a productive part of the discipleship process.
Here are four ways that accountability can make your Christian life richer.
1. Accountability helps curb unproductive behavior
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).
Having people close enough to you that they're allowed to see your struggles and missteps is what vulnerability in community is all about. And when they genuinely want the best for you, they become potent allies in your spiritual growth.
But accountability shouldn't just be about identifying and harping on one another's weaknesses. Life-giving accountability is about more than going through a checklist of sins and bad behaviors together. It's about allowing people to get close enough to us that they understand our temptations, triggers, and help us navigate our lives in positive and healthy ways.
For instance, no one would say that sitting around and staring at your phone or watching TV every night is the most effective way to serve the kingdom. But it's entirely possible to be completely unproductive while avoiding the kinds of sins that accountability partners tend to focus on. The best accountability isn't simply focused on avoiding the bad, but about spurring one another on toward good works.
2. Accountability allows you to receive helpful counsel
The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice (Proverbs 12:15).
One of the most powerful things about Christian community is the opportunity we have to see things from the vantage point of others. We all have a tendency to miss stuff or ignore information that doesn't really align with our perspective or preferences. That's why we need the input from others who are just as sincere and passionate about the Lord as we are.
This is another case where true accountability is only possible when we choose to be transparent and open with our accountability partners. This gives them the best possible information from which to advise us.
But remember, the benefit of good counsel isn’t in receiving it—it's in aligning ourselves to it. Accountability doesn't just provide a chance to hear helpful advice; it's an opportunity to put it to work for us!
3. Accountability helps you achieve goals
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
The best goals require some effort and perspiration. If you're the sole carrier of that dream, it can get lonely, difficult, and ultimately diminish the chance of reaching it. But when you have cheerleaders who are invested in you—and therefore invested in your goals—it's much easier to keep pushing toward them.
Accountability partners can help you choose goals, set up steps for achieving them, and provide follow-up and encouragement to keep you on course. And more than anything, they’re there to help you celebrate every achievement along the way.
4. Accountability keeps you engaged
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer (Romans 12:11–12).
Maintaining the same passion and intensity in your faith isn't easy. A lot of people point at their college years as being the season when they were most engaged, involved, and enthusiastic. But over time, the daily responsibilities of life crowded out some of that zeal.
One of the best ways to keep that passion alive is to surround yourself with others who share your enthusiasm. This way you don't have to count on yourself to keep that fire lit all the time. When you're struggling to maintain your fervor, you can lean on the passion of others—and vice versa.
In this way, accountability is less about monitoring one another's behavior, and more about helping each other maintain your first love (Revelation 2:4).
Finding healthy accountability partners
Accountability relationships are special, so you need to be careful about getting into these kinds of relationships that are so reliant upon transparency and vulnerability. Some people have disastrous stories about jumping into "accountability groups" with people of varying levels of maturity and end up being the topic of gossip or meddling.
Find other Christians who share your values and passion for Jesus, and talk about what everyone expects from an accountability relationship. And if the opportunity for these kinds of relationships seems to be lacking in your congregation, check out our article, "5 Things You Can Do to Build Community at Your Church."