Why Do We Need Accountability?
Accountability, my eyes almost roll when I type out that word. My eyes drift over to my phone, I am reminded that I need to continue to be accountable for my screen time. To be honest with you, I have been trying to cut down my phone usage and dependence for a long time. I tried many different things, like putting my phone in another room, deleting time-wasting apps, or making the commitment in my mind to use my phone less. However, I started to improve in my usage recently as I allowed others into my life and keep me accountable by checking in with me. This has been a hard step because I had to admit that I was unable to do it on my own and I needed help. I do not like admitting that I cannot do something, especially when it seems so simple. There was also a fear that those that I was honest with would not accept me anymore. These kept me from engaging in accountability relationships.
As you are reading this you are probably thinking of those things in life that you need accountability with and your eyes may roll. You may get frustrated that you cannot overpower this thing that has been hindering you. This thing could be weight, working out, reading your Bible more, going on dates with your spouse, not watching porn, the list goes on and on. It is incredibly frustrating to think that we can not do something on our own or something is in control of us. It is easy to fall into a cycle of believing it is impossible to overcome certain obstacles in our lives. However, God has not left us in this without ways of having victory. God has created accountability to bring us closer to Him and those around us and to reflect the love He has for us.
God, himself is a fan of accountability. Contrary to popular belief, accountability is not about a relationship where one person is telling you how bad of a person you are, you are failing, and will never amount to anything if you do not make it past this obstacle. I have experienced this type of accountability. God has designed accountability to be a relationship where support, encouragement, understanding, celebration, and challenges are found. Over the next several months we are going to be looking at different aspects of accountability. The first important element of the accountability relationship is the relationship and knowing why we need relationships.
Wired For Relationship
God, created people for relationships, it is wired into the essence of who we are. We see a desire for relationship in the beginning of the Bible in Garden of Eden. Genesis 1 helps us see that we are made in the Image of God. In Genesis 2 God noticed that it is not good for Adam to be alone in Garden of Eden, so God created to Eve, someone to be in relationship with Adam, a helper, someone to do relationship with Adam. God has designed humans to be in relationship together and with Him. It grieved God’s heart to see Adam and Eve disrupt that relationship with Him by sinning in Genesis 3. Ever since that point God has been on a mission to bring humanity into relationship with Him and He has done that through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the cross. One of the reasons why accountability relationships are important are because God has wired and designed us for relationship, and in the end the relationship with Him
In the meantime, Christ desires us to have a relationship with Him as we navigate the evil of this world. He longs for us to repent of our old ways and grow closer to Him. Christ knew that maintaining this relationship is a daunting and difficult task. Just because we are saved does not mean that we stop from trying to grow closer to Christ (Romans 6:1-11). That is why He gave us the Church, to help keep us accountable. The Church is a place where these relationships happen. The author Hebrews encourages his readers in midst of persecution to continue to encourage one another to follow Christ and keep each other accountable as they run the race (Heb. 10:24-25, 12:1-2). God knew that life would be too difficult with sin in the world to do alone, so He established His church as a place for those who are in a relationship with Him to work together to overcome sin and grow closer to Him. God created accountability as a way to for us to work together and grow closer to Him in an evil world.
God’s Relationship, Experientially
God also created accountability to demonstrate the type of love He has us. God has unconditional love us even when we mess up and fail time and time again. When we fail, God does not shun us or call us a failure the way we are used to in accountability relationships or even with our partner. No! God is accessible, responsive, and emotionally engaged because He is gentle and lowly (Matt. 11:29). God can sit with us in our mistakes and obstacles and still love us, all the while supporting, encouraging, understanding, celebrating, and challenging us. This sounds like a simple concept to understand cognitively, but it is much harder to understand relationally because we may not have experienced this type of relationship before.
Across the board, we are used to relationships that are conditional and contractual, not covenantal. God wired us for accountability as a way to experience support and his love. God did not create accountability to be an extension of wrath and something to be feared, but something to be embraced. This is not an easy thing to do because we are afraid of being a failure, however, this is the way the world sees you and not the way God sees you. God desires us to cultivate relationships where we are totally open and transparent. Then we can allow the ones He has placed in our lives to be a vessel of His love in difficult times. Through these relationships, we can overcome the obstacles in our lives and grow closer to Him. These relationships reflect the design that God had intended for creation. God has created relationships with accountability because the journey God has called us on is too big to do alone and that it reflects His love and the way He sees us. Through accountability, we can experience the love of God.
I realize that this article has been about the why of accountability and we have seen that God designed us to be in relationship and not in isolation, this world is too difficult to go through alone, so we need help, and accountability that is supportive, encouraging, celebratory, understanding, and challenging. Through accountability relationships marked by these five elements we experience a shadow of the love of Christ and are encouraged to continue to grow closer to Him. So what? What should I do now? There are several steps for application once we know the why of accountability.
1. Praise God
Praise God that in a world that is full of trials and pain He did not leave us alone because of the gift of His Son and the community of believers around us. God in His omnipotence created a way through accountability to grow closer to Him because He knew that we cannot survive this journey of life on our own because He created it that way. As you read this take a moment to pray or write down to God reasons why you are thankful for relationships.
2. Embrace Relationships
Knowing the why and design of accountability allows the thought of accountability to become less scary and daunting. It also allows us to press into relationships that will be helpful and beneficial for us opposed to running away from them. Similar to the scene in The Fellowship of Ring where Gandalf the Grey keeps Bilbo accountable by exhorting him to give up the ring as promised, “Bilbo Baggins! I am not trying to harm you! I am trying to help you!” From there Bilbo and Gandalf remains friends and Bilbo gives Gandalf the ring. Understanding the purpose and why behind accountability allows it to become less scary and embrace relationships. As look you at people with who you are in relationship with, make a list of people who would be safe enough for accountability and people you would like to get to know more.
3. Start Assessing
Another step we should take after understanding the why behind accountability is to start assessing and preparing for the accountability journey we need to take. Start reflecting on your life and the places where you may be experiencing a block or are not as vulnerable as you need to be. This reflection will set you up well for the next step of determining the “when” of accountability, which will be the topic of our next article.
God has created us to be in relationship and to live in community. One of those reasons is so that we can graciously keep each other accountable and growing closer to Christ while showing his love to each other. This type of accountability allows us to be open, vulnerable, and more authentic with those around us. Engaging in this type of relationship reflects the love of Christ and makes those around us question what is different about us and desire to be a part of our community.