Monday, August 26, 2013

5 Ideas for Using Accountability

The idea of accountability has always been prominent with Christians. Many have been for it and some against it. Those against it claim that accountability is pointless because people can still, and will, lie about their actions. While this can be true, it does not mean that accountability is unsuccessful in helping people walk according to the Scriptures. Those for accountability argue that is both biblical and necessary for healthy Christian growth. 

Accountability is all about growing with others. Discipleship is best lived out with others. It is in close community that we take the largest strides of growth in our faith. When accountability is working properly, it deters sin, keeps us disciplined, promotes humility, and concerns us about the growth of other believers. Having accountability through one-on-one, two-to-three, or small group relationships are more valuable to your growth in grace than you can comprehend. So here are ways you can use accountability to become a well-rounded Christian. 

5 Ideas for Using Accountability

 1. Quite time accountability. Accountability partners can help you be faithful to spend time with God. It is vital that we spend daily time in the Word and prayer. This is not for the super-spiritual alone, it should be the goal of every Christian. We need the wisdom of God's Word to guide us. We need the daily dose of humility that prayer provides. The act of prayer is an act of recognizing your own insufficiency. Prayer humbles us before God to recognize our need for Him and His ability above all others to provide for us. I have written about how I spend time with God if you would like more instruction on this area.

Accountability Ideas:

** Find 1 or 2 people who serve as accountability for this area of your life.
** Check on each other daily using tools like a phone call, a text, twitter, Facebook, or email.
** Share with each other what time of the day you are setting as your quite time with God, and commit to texting (or any another method) each other prior to those committed times to encourage them to follow through with their appointment with God.

2. Battling Sin. There may not be a greater need for accountability than in the area of battling sin. The ancients would call this practice the mortification of sin. If we do not commit to killing sin, sin will be killing us. James 5:16 exhorts us to "Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another..." This is not a suggestion, but a command from God's Word. Why do we need this kind of accountability? Because sin that remains in the dark gains power, dominion, and strength. Sin grows stronger and more dominant in our lives when it is covered up and hidden. However, when sin is exposed, and we talk about our struggles by letting others in to our battles, sin loses both its power and appeal. 

This is why we desperately need others to help us battle sin. Practically speaking, accountability in this area gives others a chance to speak truth into our lives, pray for us, and encourage us as we fight the good fight. Instead of wallowing in our sinful failures, challenge each other to confess and repent of sin, turn to Scripture to find tools to combat particular sins, and pray for each other. 

Accountability Ideas: 

** Have a person (you can have more than one, but not too many) you can meet weekly to share your sin struggles with.
** Meet for coffee or lunch with your accountability partner. Another option is a phone call on the way to work or during a lunch break during the week. You could even do a Skype or FaceTime conversation during a time you are both available. 
** In instances where a persistent sin continues to remain in a person's life, commit to reading a book together on the subject, memorize Scripture on the issue, or go together to meet with a pastor/elder for further counsel. 

3. Faithfulness to our home responsibilities. If you are married, then you have home responsibilities. Every man and woman has God-given roles they are called to fulfill. These home responsibilities include being a parent. So if you are a man who is married and has any children, you have many responsibilities. You are called to lead your family. This includes leading your wife spiritually. You must ensure she is growing in her relationship with Christ. You must also lead your children. This involves one-on-one discipleship with your kids, as well as family worship. I know so many families who want to have family worship, but do not. These responsibilities are where good accountability partners can come in handy. 

Accountability Ideas:

** Have an accountability partner check with you weekly to ask if you are leading family worship. Set a day that you plan to lead family worship and have your accountability parter check to ensure you have prepared for it.

** Ask your accountability partner to check regularly if you are: 1. praying with your spouse, 2. praying for your spouse, and 3. talking to them about what they are currently learning in their walk with God, and 4. what they are currently struggling with. 
4. Faithfulness to our church responsibilities. If you are a believer, you should be committed to a local church. There is no such concept as a churchless Christian in the New Testament. Christians are saved from our sins and saved into a community. Inside this community every person has a role. We are all given spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of building up and edifying the church. As a committed church member you should be giving financially, in some type of group outside of Sunday mornings, serving with your gifts, and attending Sunday worship gatherings weekly.

Accountability Ideas: 

** Have your accountability partner ask you about: church attendance, serving, being in a group, participation in the life of the church, giving, etc. 

** Join with your accountability partner for regular prayer for the church, its leaders, its members, and its mission.

5. Gauging our Affections. This may be one of the most neglected areas of for Christian accountability. It is no problem to have someone ask us about what we are doing. But this area of accountability, gauging our affections, gets to the heart of how we are feeling. Are we growing in our love for Jesus? Are we finding our prayer times fervent and alive? When we sing praises do our hearts leap? When we read the Scriptures are we hungry for more? The affections can go through seasons of great fire and intensity, then go through seasons of cold and staleness. This is an area of our walks with God that would be well served to have accountability.

Accountability Ideas:

** Invite your accountability partner to ask regularly the following questions: how is your life for Jesus? What is your eagerness to read the Word and pray? How do you feel as you are reading the Word and praying? Do you anticipate gathering to worship with the church? Do you enjoy your time with God? If you were to evaluate your hearts affections right now, would you rank them as: hot, cold, or lukewarm?

Concluding Thoughts & Challenge

If you are attempting to live the Christian life in isolation from others, you are doomed to fail. If you believe you can get by without accountability, you are attempting a futile feat. You need others. You were made to walk with others. Accountability is a gift from God. Without it we are prone to wander and stray from God. With it we can fulfill our God-given callings and responsibilities. 

Question: Who are the first people that came to your mind as potential accountability partners while you read this post? My challenge to you is to send this article to them, ask them to read it, and then invite them to join you in an accountability relationship. 

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