What It Takes for Accountability to be Successful

Accountability is a word most of us know and are familiar with. To some, it signals to have someone helping you implement a change in life or helping grow in discipline. Others accountability means a futile attempt to change, and the accountability relationship will soon end. If you have been around in any setting whether that be, work, school, or even church you know that some accountability works, and others do not. What makes some accountability relationships succeed and others fail? Here are a few tips on what it takes for accountability to be successful.

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Why We Need Accountability

As much as I don’t want to admit it, I am not very disciplined by nature. No one is naturally inclined to do what is good because of our radically depraved sin nature. However, God did not design us to live in sin. He sent his son to die on the cross so that we might be saved from sin allowing us to have a personal relationship with Him. Out of our love for Him, we strive to live a life according to the way He desires, laid out in the Bible. This desire is not fueled out duty, but out of love, like one loves a father.        

God in His sovereignty knew that we could not live the life He calls us to perfectly. That is why He has unconditional grace for us. He also created the church as a way that we could keep ourselves and others around accountable to living out the life that Christ called us to. Life as a Christian, and life in general is difficult to handle, we need each other to overcome the obstacles that hinder us from our and God’s goals. The way that we go about seeking and keeping accountability will greatly affect the outcome of the accountability relationship.

It Takes Two, Maybe More

When we encounter something that we need accountability for, whether that be; eating right, working out, reading our Bible, engaging our spouse, abstaining from watching pornography, or whatever might be hindering us from fulling life the way God intended, we need to seek out help. Having the right accountability partner or partners is key to success. It is best to seek out someone who already does what you want to do well. They will be able to help you avoid any potential blind spots on the journey that you did not foresee. Having a wiser person in the area that we are seeking accountability for will fast-track our journey. Once this is achieved take the brave and vulnerable step of getting a group of peers whom you trust to create a support team who can help you and you can help them as well in their journey. When we are seeking out accountability it is a good idea to make sure that our accountability partners are of the same sex. This will avoid anyone being taken advantage of, whether that is yourself or the accountability partner. The right accountability partner and team are key to having a successful accountability relationship.   

Successful Accountability

Choosing to seek accountability is a bold choice. There are several ways that one can seek accountability to set themselves up for success.

1. Be Brave. 

It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable and honest with where you are in life. Culture often tells us that showing the places that we struggle with is weak, but being vulnerable with our struggle is the first step to finding freedom and life. Christ himself was vulnerable with His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane. In the garden, Christ was honest with his feelings about going to Cross 

2. Be Deliberate.

If you feel something is off in life or is hindering you, don’t wait, act! For accountability to be effective it takes bold and deliberate action. Problems only linger when we do not act. The thing that hinders us only sticks around and grows deeper if we did not take brave and deliberate action.

3. Be Honest.

For accountability to be successful we have to be honest. When we are achieving our accountability goals there will be days when we will struggle with motivation to keep going. There is no other way around it but through it. As you are being held accountable, be honest with where you at! There is no expectation to be able to achieve your goals the first day that you start them. True change occurs when we can be honest on the days where we struggle and to be supported in times where we don’t believe that we have what it takes to achieve our goals. Being honest when we are struggling also allows us to experience God’s love through those that are keeping us accountable in a way that reflects his heart. It allows God to come into our lives and to experience his empathy (Hebrews 4:15). Being honest also allows seeing what might the deeper root of the problem. Honesty allows us to see the patterns that arise out of accountability and what the common trends are in our struggles. These trends will allow us to see anything else that might be hindering us that may below the surface. For example. Someone who is struggling with pornography may only act out in times where they lonely. Being held accountable for using porn will be helpful but bringing healing to the loneliness wound will bring transformation.

4. Be Specific.

To achieve success through accountability, we have to be specific in what we are trying to achieve. This will allow us and our team to track the progress well and know when we have reached the mark that is desired. Without specificity, we are held accountable but never reach our goals. Lastly, one of the most important elements for the person being held accountable is to be patient. Change happens slowly and the goals that you have may not be reached overnight. Keep being patient and putting one foot in front of the other.

The Importance of an Accountability Partner

The role of the accountability partner has a major part in the success of the accountability program, not just the person being held accountable. Too many times the failure of the accountability relationship is placed on the person being held accountable. In reality, the accountability partner has just as much responsibility.         

For an accountability relationship to work, the accountability partner needs to be committed. Commit 100% to help the person out in their struggle, you cannot be half in. For them to achieve their goals they need someone there beside them cheering them all the way, even when it hard. Accountability fails when there is a lack of commitment on the part of the accountability partner. Their lack of commitment can be due to a lack of time, or willingness to help, among other things. It is up to the accountability partner to count the cost and evaluate whether or not they can help this person. If they do not, they should not commit to helping because, in the end, they will only bring harm and not help to the accountable person.

Being slow to speak and quick to listen. An accountability partner is most helpful when they are willing to listen and care for the person being held accountable. People willing to offer quick fixes and advice are everywhere when a person is battling a hindrance. Listening to the person being held accountable will allow an accountability partner to know exactly how to help. Listening will also make the person being held accountable feel cared for and understood. This care will allow them to stay out of a cycle of shame that tells them that they cannot accomplish their goals          

 Another key point for the accountability partner is to be willing to act when necessary. Not only do we need to be good listeners and care about individuals we are keeping accountable but there will also come a time when action is needed. Those being held accountable are conquering a daunting goal and will need a push everything now then. The accountability partner needs to be willing to act when the person is struggling. Whether that be; taking their phone away, working out alongside them, or reading a book with them, the accountable will need the accountability partner to show them what Henry Cloud calls unmerited grace. In the same manner that Jesus constantly shows us grace that we do not deserve, the accountability partner will need to show that grace to the accountable, even when it is hard for the accountability partner! Being an accountability partner is harder than it seems, it is a difficult and time-consuming task, if one accepts the role of being an accountability partner, they must be willing to commit, listen, care, and take action.           

All of us on this earth need some sort of accountability in our life. That is why God created us to have relationships! However, being someone accountable, and an accountability partner is hard work! For the relationship to work, it takes a team of individuals who are committed to the task and willing to do whatever it takes for the account to be successful. 

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