For a long time I thought that accountability practices were a waste of time. Who needs an accountability partner when we should all be accountable to God? After all, you can lie to an accountability partner but you can't lie to God, and God is more forgiving than any accountability partner could ever be!
While I still agree that it is good to be so aware of God's presence in your life that you don't want to sin because to do so would be to sin in His sight; it is a misunderstanding of the purpose of accountability to take this view. It's also not very humble, because it assumes that you can actually manage to keep this ideal all the time, and that you know your own heart well enough to keep it under control.
Here's a few points for considering accountability:
- You're not perfect, and you can't always see your own mistakes, so someone looking in from the outside can be a help to you. They can see where you are blind. Scary though this is, if it's done with trust, you can only become a better person.
- Accountability is not about "checking up" on each other, but about building one another up. Instead of approaching it as a way to list your sins to each other, leading to negative reinforcement of that behaviour, approach it as a strategy development session on how to better overcome sin and its power over you. Avoid grading yourself which is an end-point summary, and discuss your implementation of strategy with a view to improve instead - that is a life-long ongoing process.
- It will be hard, because you are facing your darkest self and opening that up to another, but it is worth the effort.
- Marriage should be the ultimate accountability that you have with another person. It is the most open relationship that you can ever have, excepting that which you have with God.
- Different groups which you associate with will be able to feed back to you different information about yourself. This means that you shouldn't limit accountability to just one relationship. In fact, every relationship and human interaction carries a measure of feedback to inform us how to improve. If we watch those around us, and gauge their reaction to us, we will never be short of information to act and improve ourselves with.
And remember, it's all about God's glory. If we fail to be the best that we can be, if we fail to use accountability relationships, then we fail to do our part to improve ourselves to the glory of Jesus Christ, our Lord - the One who we represent on earth.