FLETCH: Need to Change Something?
Find an Accountability Partner (Part 1)
“Ok, I am going to hold you accountable to do what you said you were going to do!” In a tone that never had much grace this is how my friends and I would attempt to “encourage” each other in our walk with Christ and in trying to live out our spiritual disciplines. I used to think that accountability meant railing on someone for not doing what they said they were going to do but then I read something that changed my way of thinking… dramatically. Our Community Group at church has been going through a series entitled, “Instruments in the Hands of the Redeemer.” This Biblically based, gospel-centered study equips people to learn how to minister to others and help them change (i.e. incarnational ministry). This last week we read about accountability. Below is an excerpt from our study guide written by Paul Tripp and Tim Lane. Take a look at it and then see if maybe your understanding of Biblical accountability has changed. This is Part 1. In Part 2 we will look at how this actually looks in holding someone accountable for certain actions. Feel free to leave a comment.
As change is applied to daily living, the Bible gives us two things to remember. First, as we help restore a person to where God wants him to be, we should “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). We are also told that we should “encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13). These passages have much to offer us as we think about accountability
- Accountability is not about being a private detective.
- It is not about trying to do the work of the Holy Spirit.
- It is not about being someone’s conscience.
- It is not about forcing someone to obey.
- It is not about chasing someone who is running or looking for someone who is hiding.Accountability is about providing loving structure, guidance, assistance, encouragement, and warning to a person who is fully committed to the change God is working in his life. Let’s look at these five elements of accountability.
1. Accountability provides structure. Life is often messy and chaotic. Change seems easier when being discussed than it does when being applied to life. Accountability provides an outside system of structure (“Do these things during this period of time”) that can be immensely helpful to the person attempting something for the first time.
2. Accountability provides guidance. Often a person will want to do what is right but won’t be sure how to do it. At these times it is a great benefit to have someone standing alongside to provide ongoing wisdom as to the “where,” “when,” and “how” of change.
3. Accountability provides assistance. There are times when the person is not able to make the needed changes alone (example: a difficult talk with a wife, friend, child) and he literally needs someone there with him, helping him make the changes that are needed.
4. Accountability provides encouragement. Change is difficult and people get beaten down. They are tempted to question their commitments or even to quit. In these times, they need someone they trust alongside them, who knows their situation and who can encourage them to continue.
5. Accountability provides warning. There are times when people confess the need for change, but then begin to rebel against it when they realize the cost and work involved. These people need to be warned of the consequences that their disobedience and rebellion will bring. They need to be reminded that they will harvest what they have sown (Galatians 6:7).
Accountability is not about chasing a person who does not want to change or trying to do the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the willingness to provide ongoing help to the person who is fully committed to the “put off/put on” process.
There are three questions to ask as you seek to provide ongoing accountability.
1. What kinds of ongoing help will this person need?
2. How often will I need to be in contact with him for change to continue?
3. Are there other resources in the Body of Christ that would be helpful during this period of change? How can I connect this person to those resources?
Remember, as the person begins to apply new insights and new commitments to his situations and relationships, it is important to remind him of his identity in Christ and to provide ongoing accountability.
THE BIG QUESTION: Do you help others bear the burden of change by providing biblical accountability and affirming their identity in Christ?
All for Jesus,