Accountability is not a foolproof method to keep a person from experiencing a major moral failure; however, it can certainly limit a person from many downward spirals.
Accountability is defined as the state of being accountable, liable, or answerable. Over the years I’ve tried to be accountable to other men in my life. I have certain standards, goals and principles that I strive for, and I use accountability to help guide my life in those directions.
I realize that I’m tempted as much, if not more at times, as everyone in my church. Sometimes I feel Satan gives pastors “extra” attention. I’m sure everyone feels that way at times. Accountability is one way I attempt to guard my heart. I highly recommend it. Accountability is not a fool proof method to keep a person (or me) from a major moral failure. I know (and you know) people who had plenty of accountability, but still had a catastrophic personal failure. Ultimately the quality of a person’s heart and walk with Christ will protect him or her. I believe, however, if it is done well, it can certainly help limit a person from many downward spirals.
I’ve done accountability in a number of ways. I’ve met with a few guys weekly. I’ve met with one guy weekly or bi-weekly. I’ve met with guys long distance. (I don’t recommend this method as the best option. I think there is value in face-to-face encounters, but it’s better than doing nothing.)
I’ve learned there are three keys to effective accountability:
- Consistency – You have to meet “regularly”. That doesn’t have to be weekly, but it shouldn’t be annually. I think monthly would be about as far as I would stretch an accountability relationship. You need to meet frequently enough that you begin to recognize when there could be a problem in each other’s lives. That requires a constant, growing relationship.
- Honesty – There is no true accountability until people are willing to be transparent with each other. You have to be vulnerable with each other and trust each other enough to share what’s really going on in your heart and life. That type relationship doesn’t develop quickly and, frankly, doesn’t happen every time you try. I’ve had relationships, which were initiated to be accountable relationships, that never fully formed the closeness needed for true honesty to exist.
- Intentionality – If you want to be in an accountable relationship, you must be intentional. You will have to seek out someone. You’ll have to build a relationship. You’ll have to open your heart. You’ll have to take a risk of trust. You’ll have to follow through on your commitment to meet together. You’ll have to discipline your time. Nothing happens of any great value without intentionality.
I’m not sure you can do accountability without any of these three.