Mark Twain famously said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” This is especially true when it comes to Christian accountability.
Our journey through Christian accountability has brought us from reasons to ways. We began by looking at the benefits of holding one another to Christlikeness. Then, we offered some practical points of responsibility for men and women. After that, we uncovered some sensible ways to meet for accountability and steps to be an awesome accountability partner.
The next thing to do is to make it happen. But how? If accountability is new to you, the best thing is to first ask one of your pastors or elders about how to form an accountability relationship with someone in the church. They might have a team or plan in place to assist you.
However, if the pastoral staff is unable to help, this could be a good opportunity for you to help serve your church. As we’ve already discussed, Christian accountability is a useful practice that facilitates spiritual growth. You may be the person God uses to help cultivate it in your local congregation.
Here are five steps to form an accountability relationship.
Scottish reformer John Knox was known for being strong in Christ while weak in stature. He was often sickly and afflicted with doubts and fears. But he was courageously submissive to God and was therefore used mightily. Let this wallpaper remind you that you are never alone when God is with you.
I once read a shirt that said, “Anyone can be cool, but awesome takes practice.” I tend to agree.
For God, awesome comes natural (Ps. 68:35). But for the rest of us, we have to practice. This is particularly true with accountability. We often fall short of being awesome accountability partners because accountability wears overalls and looks like work. And really, who wants to work hard to be accountable?
Well, you do. You are either a Christian man or a Christian woman who understands the great rewards of diligently pursuing godliness by locking arms with others and waging war on personal sin. But still, awesome isn’t always achieved. Yet, with a little help, you can point and shoot with intent to hit awesome each time.
Here are eight steps to be an awesome accountability partner.
When teaching on our new nature in Christ, Paul said to “put to death therefore what is earthly in you” (Col. 3:5). Being raised in newness of life, we must then “put on … compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience … and above all these put on love” (Col. 3:12-14). John Owen creatively captured the essence of Paul’s command to mortify the flesh in his work, Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers. Let this wallpaper remind you to kill sin in your life before it kills you.
“If Calvin was the greatest theologian of the church, Jonathan Edwards the greatest philosopher, and George Whitefield the greatest evangelist, Spurgeon surely ranks as its greatest preacher.”
So says the author of The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon, Steven Lawson. This short book is one of many in A Long Line of Godly Men Profiles, a series published by Reformation Trust. It briefly highlights the life of Spurgeon, from his calling to belief in a small Methodist church to his preaching in the large Metropolitan Tabernacle.
Spurgeon is described as a man of diligence and nobility, a man of steadfast faith in the Scripture. “For Spurgeon,” Lawson writes, “when the Bible speaks, God speaks.” Convinced of the doctrines of grace, Spurgeon preached Christ in every sermon and always accompanied human responsibility with the call of the gospel. He “firmly held the sovereign grace of God in one hand and the free offer of the gospel in the other.”
Thomas Edison reminds us that, “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Sadly, this is an irksome reality of nearly all things worth any real value.
Accountability is an opportunity often missed because of the work it requires. You have to be committed to put in a bit of elbow grease in order to receive the immeasurable rewards. Unfortunately, most people miss the payoff because accountability wears overalls and looks like work. It’s an all-in game.
An effective accountability meeting begins with care and ends with prayer. It is driven by compassion and deep love for God’s church. It desires the perfecting of the saints and relies on the sanctifying power of the Spirit.
Lest you miss your opportunity, here are ten characteristics of effective accountability.
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, a celebrated politician of France, was known for his brilliance in the court and his wisdom in the pulpit. He was influential, wealthy, and powerfully wise. Educated as a priest, even to the rank of bishop, he renounced the church to excel in public affairs. And excel he did. Only the emperor was more distinguished.
And yet, with all his knowledge, with all his splendor, and with all his wealth, Talleyrand died with a miserably regretful epitaph. Next to his deathbed was a handwritten letter detailing his dying words and reflections on the life he was leaving behind:
“Behold eighty-three years passed away! What cares! What agitation! What anxieties! What ill-will inspired? What vexatious complication! And without any other result than great moral and physical fatigue, and a profound feeling of despair for the future, of disgust at the past.”
We find a similar letter in the Bible. It wasn’t found next to a comfortable bed under a warm lamp, but smuggled out of a cold Roman dungeon where criminals were imprisoned, drowned in the city sewage, and flushed away with the garbage. It wasn’t written by a political dignitary or high ranking diocesan, but by a humble and modest-living Christ follower. It did, however, contain the dying words of a well-known man—the apostle Paul.
Christians in Iraq have been given an ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay a high tax, leave the area, or die. The Islamic State has painted a large Arabic letter “N” (nun)—from the Arabic word nasara (meaning “Nazarene” to indicate Christians)—on their homes to identify them as Christians. Let this wallpaper remind you to stand bold for Christ and pray for the safety of our fellow believers. More importantly, pray that the gospel of Jesus Christ be proclaimed. To help Christians persecuted by this terrorist group, visit The Voice of the Martyrs.
For some of us, it is easy to think that God and his love must revolve around me and my problems, and we evaluate his love based on how we feel he’s doing at loving us. But God’s love was perfect before we ever arrived on the scene, and it will remain perfect long after we leave. The eternal and therefore prior love of the Father and the Son for each other reminds us that at the end of the day, life and love is not about me. Though the love of God for me is real, it is also derivative, an overflow of this most fundamental love within the Trinity itself.
Metal detectors have a keen sense of finding nearby metallic alloys. They can sniff out hidden gems slightly beyond the earth’s surface. With any luck, you can find something of value just waiting to be discovered.
When it comes to Christian accountability partners, we could use a good detector. Finding one is not always an easy task. It’s like the little boy in the backyard with a metal detector seeking hidden treasure. It happens, but not often.
Most accountability partners are found in existing relationships. Our close friends or relatives can easily become strong candidates. On the other hand, we may not have ideal partners in our immediate circle up for the challenge. It can be useful, at times, to seek the help of a church leader.
Whatever the case, the strength of your accountability partner is an important element in the strength of your accountability work. Here are five things that should sound the indicator in your Christian accountability detector.