I set several goals for myself last week. No one else knew anything about them. I didn't tell a soul.
I didn't achieve a single one of those goals either.
Most anything we attempt without accountability will rarely be achieved. Do you find that to be true?
My bet is you've attempted to develop new habits, accomplish certain tasks or attain goals without telling anyone as well, even if your goal was as simple as "I'll floss every night this week" or as spiritual as "Every day I'll have my quiet time with the Lord before I check my email."
We have a much better chance of pushing ourselves past the hurdles to reach our goals when someone else is at least aware of our attempt. Accountability, while somewhat daunting and exposing, is a necessary component in our spiritual growth.
How do you go about enlisting someone to keep you accountable in your spiritual life? Well, you don't necessarily need to have just one accountability partner, although that is certainly one way to handle the situation. But I kind of like the idea of simply "living out in the open." By that I mean that you make yourself accountable to different people in every situation. For instance, you might
- join a Bible study group and ask the gals at your table to check on you if you don't show up. Check up on them, too, if they miss class.
- enlist a good friend to ask you once a week if you've been having your quiet times.
- get to know the people who sit around you at church so they'll notice when you're missing.
- enlist another friend to ask about the scriptures you're memorizing and meditating on. Partner up!
- confide in a counselor, mentor or mature Christian about a temptation you're trying to shake. Allow them to ask you the tough questions once a month...and be honest with your answers.
- join a support group for a particular issue you're trying to grow through, such as grief, addictions, or parenting. Be honest and transparent in the group.
- ask an older couple to mentor you and your spouse, spending time with them and allowing them to lovingly "scrutinize" your marriage and speak into your lives.
You can probably think of other ways to develop similar transparent, honest and accountable relationships with people. The key is to first see yourself as living "in the light" instead of in the darkness.
And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:5-9
Did you catch the significance of the last sentence of that passage? You see, we are all dealing with sin. We all sin. So we might as well get out in the light about it, invite a little accountability and allow God to deal with it. Out in the light of accountability and transparency, God can transform us, change us, grow us up.
As we are about to wrap up this little series on keys to spiritual growth, I want to encourage you to embrace this one...accountability. It is the growth component that was missing for much of my life. Not that I slunk around in the shadows of darkness all of my life, but I did keep to myself more, protect my privacy and stear clear of nosey questions. I feared accountability and shuddered at the thought of opening up about my struggles. But I also missed out on the benefits of sweet, gracious and loving encouragement and empathy.
In recent years I've made it a policy to live out in the light. I tell a friend about my goals, allow people to ask me about my scripture memory and meditation, confess my struggles and ask for prayer and counsel, and meet regularly with accountability partners who have permission to ask me the "tough questions." And it is under this "light" that I have seen the greatest spiritual growth in my life. Yes, sometimes, when I've struggled and fallen down or missed the mark, the light of accountability seems blinding and annoying. But soon my eyes adjust to the glare and I see the questions, the comments and the encouragement for what they are: necessary tools for spiritual growth in my life.
Do you find it difficult to be accountable to others? Why is that? What one thing could you do this week to increase your accountability among gracious and godly sisters so that you can grow in the Lord?
Labels: 7 Keys to Spiritual Growth, accountability