“And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” – Hebrews 4:13
Undoubtedly, we are all accountable to God, but are we accountable to others, and do we care to be?
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines accountability as the obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or account for one’s actions. To some, accountability is desirable in theory, but not necessarily in practice. In order for us to be accountable, we have to own and reveal. Accountability doesn’t implicitly require us to throw back the curtains of our lives to an indiscriminate audience, but it does exist on a stage of our choosing, and it requires our transparency. We have to be both bold and honest enough to say to God, a trusted partner, and ourselves, “This is who I am, what I’ve done, where I’ve been, and/or what I need.”
Let’s face it, we aren’t typically challenged in the area of accountability, when it pertains to low hanging fruit or shame-free subjects. Our struggle ensues when we are forced to reveal our soft spots, shortcomings, and strongholds…our most intimate and often tucked away imperfections and weaknesses.
If you regularly follow my blog, you’ve probably gathered that my life is full of comedic moments (which I love), so I’ll share another that falls in line with this subject matter.
One day, at a local restaurant in a nearby mall, my husband and I were discussing and comparing our food vices. Admittedly, we are proud foodies, but recognize that even in our exploration, the rule of thumb, “everything in moderation” still applies. We agreed that day, to hold each other accountable on our joint quest to pursue healthier lifestyles and make better food choices. Shortly thereafter, my husband and I parted ways to explore different parts of the mall. He went into a gadget store because all gadget stores display a sign in the window that can only be seen by men and reads, “Men get in here quickly! You simply cannot live without our new 25-in-1 product, and it only costs what you would pay for a semester of college. It’s a steal!” #sarcasm
I, on the other hand, just happened upon a candy store. Yes, that’s what I wrote, “happened upon.” I bought all of my favorite treats and put the bag (a.k.a. evidence) into my purse.
Twenty minutes later, while we were driving home, I covertly, so I thought, slipped a Caramel Cream out of my purse and into my mouth. My husband saw what I had done and kindly took the bag of candy and put it on his side of the car. Well, now that the candy was out of my immediate reach, it was grew more desirable to me. I did a fast break, reached over his lap, and managed to grab 2 Mike and Ikes from the now confiscated bag. What happened next blew my mind! My husband threw the bag out of the window, as we were driving over a bridge. My children laughed, in fact we all did, because it was funny…for about 5 seconds. o_o
So, what changed in an hour?
What I had requested, but never verbalized, was this “I only want a degree of accountability, when it’s convenient and self-defined.” My husband was acting in my best interest. Still, my flesh wanted what it wanted, and rather than allow him to help me to quell my flesh, I pushed back. I never took ownership that I shouldn’t have purchased the candy in the first place, especially within an hour of audibly agreeing to make better choices and soliciting his support.
Responsibility begins with us (self-accountability), but when you ask someone else to hold you accountable, you share that responsibility and build a bridge towards a mutual goal. You also benefit from an outstretched, helping hand, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9
The fact is we will fight tooth-and-nail to establish and uphold accountability in our government, legal system, marriages, churches, workplace, finances, trade, consumer rights etc…. We’ll fight to uphold it, when it upholds us. When it requires forced transparency and answerability for someone else’s actions or behaviors.
Allowing ourselves to be accountable to others benefits us, even when it exposes and challenges where we are, in order to get us to where we need to be, especially if you are a Christian. God has indeed given us free will, but He has not left us to our own devices. He communicates and teaches us through His Word, His Spirit, and His people.
Galatians 6:1-5, Luke 17:3, and James 5:16, speaks very clearly to our capacity to sin, our shortcomings, and the charge for both accountability and restoration amongst believers. “You can’t heal what you won’t reveal.” – Iyanla Vanzant
“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.” – Galatians 6:1-3
“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” – Luke 17:3
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” – James 5:16
5 STEPS TO ACCOUNTABILITY. YOUR ROLE, YOUR CHALLENGE.
- Choose by the spirit. Identify through prayer and discernment an individual/individuals you trust, admire, respect, are comfortable with, and believe will speak truth into your life.
- Be vulnerable. Share any weaknesses or flaws that could hinder progress towards accomplishing your goals. Own “out loud”, with your trusted partner, your personal strengths and areas of growth. Openly discuss and exchange ideas on how to best address any hindrances. Then, commit to practice at least one behavior that will lead to change(s).
- Commit to regular check-ins and follow-ups. Schedule times for accountability and progress checks, either in-person, via phone, or online. Be flexible, but intentional.
- Practice active listening. Listen to your partner’s constructive criticism, but decide which portions are applicable and advantageous for you and your situation. No one is suggesting that you follow blindly or take up a position to play the blame game later.
- Evaluate progress. Set milestones and ways to assess whether those milestones were met. Use this as an opportunity to reassess, alter your strategy if necessary, and decide what could be done differently or more effectively.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11