Healthy Accountability

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(graphic by Kyle Key)

Is it healthier to…

1. Be regularly accountable to someone who is like you, who struggles with some of the same things you struggle with, and who knows exactly where you are coming from (because he or she has been, and maybe even still is, there)?

2. Be regularly accountable to someone who is not like you, struggles with things you do not struggle with, and has no issue with the thing(s) that easily entice you?

3. Be regularly accountable to nobody but God and yourself?


Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Kevin

    Ben how about a 4th catagory? Be regularly accountable to someone who is NOT like you, who struggles with the SAME things as you (maybe gender related, age related) and is able to give insight to the things that entice you?

    I know for me, I am grateful God has given me other men who aren’t like me, yet who are currently in the same season of life (old man river is a friend’s nickname for me) as me, and I trust enough to give insight into the enticements I wish to be rid of in my life.

    • Ben Reed

      That’s good stuff, Kevin. So by “not like you” do you mean a difference in age and gender? What else do you mean by “not like you”? Just curious.

      Thanks for the comment!

      • Kevin

        I don’t mean age or gender. My current accountability guys are different in personality than I – but are in the same season of life. The other thing I would say is that we are often being accountable to each other for the good things we want to have continue to happen in our lives (like reading books or scripture) as well as the things we struggle with. Good question to ponder today!

        • Ben Reed

          Gotcha. I like that twist a lot…that you’re accountable for the good things God’s doing in your life, too!

    • Will Johnston

      I like this one. There are a couple of issues on which I’m accountable to people who have authority over me. One is a pastor who is a mentor and is significantly older than I am. The other is my boss. By being accountable to people I respect and whose authority I am under, I actually take these issues more seriously. I’ve found that in peer accountability relationships I often just end up not caring.

  • Noel Bagwell

    While there is a specific scriptural foundation for number 3 (Romans 14:10-14; James 4:10-12), supra, there is also other evidence – perhaps more evidence, stronger evidence – for numbers 1 & 2 or some combination of or variation on 1 & 2. I think the way accountability is handled is more important than being “properly matched” with the person to whom you are accountable. Being “accountable to” certain kinds or types of people might make the accountability process easier, or might make the person under “accountability scrutiny” more responsive to constructive criticism. Fundamentally, however, it is the accountability process that deserves focus. If we get that right, personalities and individual struggles become less relevant, because our focus is shifted from the people involved to the (1) Biblical process of resolving problems through the accountability “system” (Matthew 18:15-17; See also Galatians 6:1-2; Hebrews 10:24-25; Thessalonians 5:11; Ecclesiastes 4:9-10; Matthew 7; 1 Corinthians 5; 1 Corinthians 7:14-16; 1 Corinthians 6:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 3:5-7; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-16; and others, more than I care to list here), and (2) the specific problem (i.e., sin) being addressed. By focusing on the problem and the means by which resolution of that problem may be attained, those participating in the process are less likely to put the offender on the defensive. If it’s all about the people involved, on the other hand, you’re more likely to alienate, rather than restore, your brother in Christ.

    EDIT/UPDATE: Also, I’m pretty proud of myself that this response is relatively short, compared to some of my others (even if it is longer than the article to which it is a response).

  • Mike Mack

    Currently my main accountability partner and I fit under #2. He does not struggle with the things I do. This works good for me right now, but I also need a guy in my life who does struggle or has struggled with similar issues. I really think my real answer would be BOTH 1 & 2. I’ve had that in the past in a smaller accountability group of men.

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  • Randy Kinnick

    Good question, Ben. Currently my accountability falls into a combination of 1 and 2. An understanding of the struggles is helpful, but it can leave room for slacking in the process if we are not honest with one another.

    • Ben Reed

      Completely agree, Randy.