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 Christ-likeness. Then, we offered practical points of accountability for men and women. After that, we highlighted 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?
First, ask one of your church leaders. There might already be a plan in place for such a thing. Or, they might have been praying for you to ask and already have someone in mind.
However, if the leadership is unable to help, this could be a good opportunity for you to serve your church. As discussed in our series, Christian accountability is a useful discipline that facilitates spiritual growth. You may be the person God uses to cultivate the process in your local congregation.
Here are five steps to form an accountability relationship.
Pray for God’s help.
Start by praying. God desires us to grow together in godliness. This is His will (1 Thess. 4:3), so He will provide the dynamics to make it happen. Christian accountability is part of the growth dynamic. It helps us chisel our sin away and bounds us with the Spirit in godliness. So pray that all will work according to His will.
If you are married, ask your spouse to join you in prayer. Additionally, turn to others in the church to pray as well. Getting others involved will help unite them to the vision and spark interest in what God might do in your church.
Consider some qualified people.
Accountability partners are usually found in existing relationships. If there are church members who live nearby or some that you see often, they might be good to consider. After all, availability is a big factor.
I encourage you to seek a partner of the same gender, as you will better understand each other. Also, look for someone who meets the qualifications of a good accountability partner, not one who will turn it into a social event. (This might be hard to determine at the beginning.) Try to find someone in your peer group. When the older relate to the younger, accountability exists, but it’s more of a discipleship effort—also needed in your life, but a different subject. Peer accountability usually serves best.
Express your desire for accountability.
Once you have your list of candidates and have prayerfully considered them, approach one when you have a few minutes to chat. It doesn’t have to be a formal meeting, but definitely not one for the social table. Maybe stop one of the people between classes at church. Then, explain your desire to grow in godly living. Follow that up with your vision of accountability and what you hope to happen with it. You might even want to mention your expectations.
Allow that person some time to think about it. (This is a commitment to sacrifice.) Over a week or so, if they seem uninterested, gently tell them that you will find someone else. No worries. Then, move to your next candidate. Trust that God will direct you to the right person.
Plan your first steps.
Once you land a good partnership, take immediate action while the iron is hot. Don’t let much time pass before you set up your first meeting—over the phone tomorrow night, at the coffee shop in two days, or at the park while the kids play. Whatever the case, nail it down and make it happen.
While you wait for your first meeting, pray for your accountability partner. In fact, as soon as you find that partner and decide on your initial meeting time and place, inquire about existing needs and ways to pray. If they have none, briefly ask about the suggested points of accountability for men and women, but don’t be pushy, as these can be tender subjects. Pray each day before the first meeting, and ask God to give you a heart for this person and unity against sin.
Get to it.
At this point, you have an accountability partnership in theory. It will take some time to develop into an accountability relationship. It is a commitment that strengthens and builds the more you engage each other. So, from this point on, pray for your accountability partner—their needs, their requests, their family, their work, their devotions.
Remember that you are both Christians living in a sinful world. This means you can pray for them essentially the same way you pray for yourself. But, put them first. Make them a priority in your meditations, and God will lock your hearts together and enable you to grow spiritually.
God can do mysterious things to cultivate a healthy accountability relationship. He might line-up schedules, fuse attitudes, connect motivations, and refine your lives in ways you might not expect for His purpose: Christ-likeness in every believer.