hello. someone asked me to be their accountability partner, because we are both struggling with the same kinds of things. i guess i am having second thoughts because 1. we are both struggling terribly and i guess i’m selfish and may want a mentor type person 2. they think i’m “further” in seeking God with these issues than i am and 3. to be honest, this kind of commitment scares me, which is prob a good thing bc of the challenge to complacency. Any advice for having an accountability partner?
My friend, first of all, a round of high fives for getting serious about your struggle and seeking accountability. You’re doing the right thing and you made an awesome first step. You can’t see me but I’m giving a big double thumbs up (right at my laptop).
I’d like to point to a couple posts on accountability also:
While I am all for holding each other accountable, the truth is that it rarely works when you grab someone and say, “Hey man, for the love of God please keep me accountable …!” It might work even less if that person is still struggling with the same thing. It’s too easy then to let each other off the hook. That’s why AA meetings have a mix of struggling people with mentors and leaders and ex-alcoholics: you need to know every side and not just one.
Accountability always grows out of an established friendship that has been built on truth. It can’t really be the other way around. While this person has good intentions to seek you out, and while it is possible it could work, you should consider 1) becoming friends with this person first, and 2) having an older mentor for both of you, together or separately. I know how hard both of those things can be, but real accountability will flourish if you’re seeking it organically.
Friendship is the priority. If y’all are only talking about sin, sin, sin, you’ll begin to get terrified of having to meet up this person whether it’s a season of victory or failure. Even my own mentor hangs out with me on a ratio of 2:1 for every time we meet privately. He wants me to know his friends, be comfortable at his place, to see what he does. That makes the actual meetings even better. Sometimes his best teaching is when I watch how he handles things.
If someone were to ask me, “Do you have an accountability partner?” — almost always I reply, “No. My friends keep me accountable.” I don’t assign the task to anyone. It just happens. Man, does it happen.
If a person is only for accountability, the human heart naturally has a way of becoming judgmental, hyper-critical, and hyper-aware of shortcomings. It gets really morbid and turns away from Jesus pretty quickly. It becomes this weird sin-glorifying story hour of self-pity and secretly thrilling confessions. People have become addicted to recovery groups for that reason.
You might want to ask this person, “Do you just want to hang out like two normal human beings?” Eventually the permission to rebuke will flow naturally if you both become comfortable with each other. It won’t become a contest of religious nitpicking nannies. It’ll become a promotion of each others’ growth towards Jesus.
Don’t worry if you decide this person is not right to keep you accountable. It’s possible they’re not for now. But it’s very possible this person could be an awesome friend, and out of that can spring forth a friendship that encourages, builds up, affirms, and gently rebukes. Be committed to your friend, not the discipline. Please don’t be in a rush for it; it’ll be worth your investment. Do seek a mentor, too. And don’t only run from your sin; run towards Him.