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Accountability is useless

Ben Reed —  January 17, 2013 — 3 Comments
This is a guest post from my friends, Justin and Trisha Davis. They know all too well the dangers of settling for an ordinary marriage. Their own failure to recognize the warning signs almost resulted in the end of their marriage, their family, and their ministry.
Justin and Trisha are bloggers, authors, speakers and founders of RefineUs Ministries (Facebook). Sharing their story of pain, loss and redemption, RefineUs is igniting a movement to build healthy marriages and families.
They are the co-authors of their first book, Beyond Ordinary: When a Good Marriage Just Isn’t Good Enoughpublished by Tyndale House Publishers.
The Davises are bloggers and teachers who make their home in Nashville, TN with their three boys.
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image credit: CreationSwap user Kyle Key

When Trisha and I first got married and entered ministry in 1995, I prided myself on being a person that was accountable. I was accountable in my choices: I wouldn’t counsel with a woman behind a closed office door; I wouldn’t give a teenage girl a ride home from church without another person in the car. I wouldn’t do lunch with a female without my wife or another male at the lunch. At all costs I wanted to be accountable.

When we started the church in 2002, I knew that accountability would be of utmost importance. I sought out a guy in our core group and asked him if we could meet each Wednesday morning to “hold each other accountable.”

As a church planter, I had a church planting coach. He and I would meet every Thursday morning and he would ask me questions about my relationship with God. He would ask me questions about my marriage, my struggles, and my weaknesses. He wanted to hold me accountable. I had a group of Elders that I met with once a month that was the spiritual leaders of our church, and I was accountable to them.

What I have discovered is accountability is useless.

Accountability is only as valuable as the transparency you and I offer in the context of that accountability.

We have a unique ability as humans to BS each other. It is easy for me to fake you out. It is easy for you to lie to my face. It is easy to pretend like your marriage is better than it really is. It’s easy to come across like you don’t struggle with lust or that was something “you used to struggle with.” It is easy to offer just enough accountability to make yourself look spiritual. At the same time that partial accountability can be so dangerous because you are not only fooling me, you are fooling yourself.

The truth is you and I can meet every Wednesday and I can deceive you. The truth is that you can have several circles of accountability and unless you are 100% transparent in at least one of those circles, implosion is on the horizon.

I am not saying you should be 100% transparent with everyone, but I am saying you should be 100% transparent with someone. I have two people in my life that if I am asked a question I give 100% of the truth; I withhold nothing. I know if I am struggling or need to confess something, or am in a dark place, I can share that with these two people.

One of the biggest mistakes I made in my life, my marriage and my ministry is I substituted accountability for transparency. Accountability without transparency is useless. It is easier in the short term to offer accountability and it seems more spiritual, but you will experience more of the grace and mercy and love of Christ when you offer transparency.

In fact, when you are willing to offer transparency, you will find you don’t need to be “held accountable.”

Maybe you find yourself in a place in life right now that you never imagined being. The walls are closing around you. Your choices are catching up to you. Your half-truths are beginning to be exposed. From one pretender to another can I encourage you that there is a better way? While this way is more painful and it will cost you more, what you will have in the end is the life you’ve always wanted. You can wake up, look in the mirror, and be the person you’ve been pretending to be.

Stop comparing, stop rationalizing, stop B.S.ing and embrace transparency. It is in that moment that brokenness collides with redemption and God’s grace is experienced most.

____________

Please, pick up their new book. It’ll change your marriage!

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978-1-4143-7227-3

 

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Accountability

Ben Reed —  May 24, 2011 — 1 Comment

If you want accountability in your life, you’ve got to take responsibility.

image by Cassandra Security

Nobody will do that for you.  Others can pour into you, teach you, model for you, and share resources with you.  But if you want accountability, you’ve got to take that responsibility on yourself.  I’ve asked people to help me with certain aspects of my spiritual life.  Sometimes it’s “worked.”  Many times, it hasn’t.  But I’ve learned some principles along the way that have helped ensure success.

8 principles in seeking spiritual accountability

1. Ask for it.

If you don’t ask, nobody will respond.  You need these deep relationships that help you with your personal spiritual growth.

2. Help define what it needs to look like.

Don’t just assume that if you ask someone, they’ll instantly know what accountability needs to look like for you.  You have to help set the paramaters.  How often?  What will you talk about?  What questions should they ask you?

3. Be vulnerable and share your story.

Otherwise, how can someone else help?  If they don’t know who you are, where you’ve been, and the weak spots in your life, they’ll have no idea how to help you grow.

4. Take a risk.

You’ll never know if the person on the other end, that you’re asking to step into that relationship with you, is 100% trustworthy.  This is  a step of faith, not a step of pre-knowledge.

5. Remember that accountability is a two-way street.

This isn’t a cure-all solution.  You’ve got to be doing the difficult task of working on yourself and your own shortcomings.  Having someone “hold you accountable” doesn’t assure you’re accountable.  You’ve got to continue to actively pursue that relationship, and be open and honest with where you are at all along the way.

6. Give the other person the room to say, “No.”

This is a big responsibility that you’re asking someone to.  Give them the freedom to say that this is not the right season for them.  Forced accountability rarely works.  Both parties have to be willing to step in and do the hard work.

7. You have to continue to drive the relationship.

Don’t expect that you can ask once, share your story, and the other person will then magically follow up with you exactly when you need it.  You’re the one asking for accountability.  You need to be the one driving this relationship.

8. Ask for grace.

Since accountability isn’t a cure-all, there’s a good chance you’ll mess up again.  In a big way.  And this is where many “accountability partners” fall apart.  If you’ve messed up, you think, “I can’t possibly be honest about this with him now.”  And he’ll think, “I guess I’ve failed at holding him accountable.”  What needs to happen is what happened in the beginning: grace.  Set out from the beginning this idea that if failure happens, grace is the knee-jerk response.

You need someone to spur you on. (Hebrews 10:24) You’re too weak on your own to fight sin, insecurities, and the battles that rage against you doing what God’s calling you to do.  You need someone who’s got your back.  You need someone who is going to encourage you on the good days and the bad.  You need a warrior who won’t give up on you, who knows where you’re headed, and is willing to walk through the dark and the light to help you get there.

So encourage each other and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Do you have someone who’s intentionally encouraging you and helping hold you accountable?

Have you seen this kind of relationship misused?  Where one (or both) parties expected too much?

 

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Healthy Accountability

Ben Reed —  October 28, 2010 — 10 Comments

(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?

 

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I just had lunch with a guy in our small groups ministry, and we talked about the importance of accountability.  We talked about the fact that we all need to have those people in our lives who know everything about us, and are not afraid to ask us difficult, awkward, yet ultimately Christ-honoring, sin-defeating questions.  We need those people who know all of our junk, yet love us still the same.  They don’t love our junk, but they love the chance to help point out the sinful habits and blind spots that we have, and those things (whether good or bad) that ensnare us.  They’re not satisfied with letting us continue in our sin because they “know that he (Jesus) appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:5-6).  We are sinful creatures, and our sin loses its power when it’s confessed, and brought into the light.

How do you make sure you’re held accountable?  Are you accountable to anyone other than God?  Are you accountable to anyone other than your spouse?

How can you, as a group leader, help those in your group be accountable to each other?

1. Foster an environment of authenticity and vulnerability.  Be real with your struggles, failings, and sinful tendencies.  You’re not perfect, and your group members know that.  When you mess up, confess it!

2. Divide your group based on gender for times of prayer.  I don’t like to air out my dirty laundry in front of another man’s wife, and I’m sure that you feel similarly.  Guys can be more openly honest when it’s just guys in the room.  We understand each other better, know how we think and operate, and often know how to minister to each other and hold each other accountable better than you do.  The same holds true for girls.

3.  If you’re the leader, meet with group members (who share the same gender with you) outside of the normal group meeting.  These times are great for building relationship, and opening up with areas of your lives that are not as easy to bring up in a larger group setting.

4.  Choose curriculum, and ask questions in the group, that cover a wide variety of Scriptures and topics.  You won’t know what areas people in your group struggle with until you ask.

5.  Encourage group members to find somebody that can hold them accountable.  It can be another person in the group, or a believer outside of the group, but it does not have to be you, the leader.  Your role as the leader is to encourage others to put themselves into relationships full of confession, love, and vulnerability.

Accountability, just like spiritual growth, doesn’t just happen.  You have to desire it, and you have to seek it.  Accountability is crucial to your growth in Christlikeness.  How much do you care about your growth?

 

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