I am a huge fan of Dr. Charles F. Stanley and his, “In Touch Ministries.” I get both the monthly magazine and his daily devotional email. This week he’s been doing a series on “Accountability” that I have to share. The following is an excerpt from this week’s devotionals:
“People avoid accountability for various reasons, including pride, ignorance, fear, and self-reliance. This is a dangerous approach to life. Our Enemy knows our weaknesses and how to exploit them. But we can prevail with the support of friends. There is strength in the body of Christ.
Far too often, people turn a good situation into slavery by ignoring wise boundaries of personal freedom. A godly accountability partner can help you enjoy privilege without abusing it. The benefits are plentiful:
Clearer direction. Honesty about faults and failures will open you to receive right counsel and encouragement. This process will increase your potential to do and become all that God has in mind for you.
Increased integrity. If you have to give an account to somebody, you’ll be honest and transparent. Even when the truth hurts, the result is heightened integrity.
Better stewardship. Accounting for the way you use money, time, or talent makes you careful not to waste those resources.
Protection against excess. As children of God, we are free in Christ, but an accountability partner keeps us balanced and guards us from taking liberties.
Healthy self-examination. Another person can often point out what we cannot see in ourselves. When we allow someone to be an accurate mirror of our faults, we’re in a better position to make improvements.
Safeguard against unwise relationships. If you have to give an account of where you go and which people you spend time with, you’ll be more likely to avoid problematic places and relationships.
Unbridled freedom may seem like a great blessing, but it can be a recipe for disaster. Do you give account to anybody for the way you handle money, time, and relationships? If not, consider inviting a trustworthy Christian to fill that role. Taking this step reveals a heart that longs to please God.
An accountability partner is able to perceive what we can’t see when blind spots and weaknesses block our vision. Such a person serves as a tool in God’s hand to promote spiritual growth, and he or she watches out for our best interest. When choosing this type of confidant, look for these characteristics:
1. Godly. A person who walks in the Spirit will offer genuine wisdom based on biblical principles rather than personal opinion.
2. Trustworthy. No matter what you share with this individual, you must be certain that he or she will keep everything in the strictest confidence.
3. Accepting. He or she must allow you to be yourself–frailties and all–and not try to remake you into someone “perfect.”
4. Courageous. A good accountability partner will lovingly confront you with the truth, even when it hurts (Eph. 4:15).
5. Forgiving. When you make mistakes, trust is built through mutual forgiveness.
6. Edifying. Don’t choose someone with an overly critical attitude that will make you feel worthless. Love edifies and builds up (Eph. 4:29). It never destroys.
7. Encouraging. You don’t want someone with a checklist, who judges or acts like a prophet. Instead, choose someone who takes great joy in encouraging you.
We all can benefit from someone who is able to say what we need to hear without making us feel threatened. Answerability provides checks and balances that promote spiritual growth and protect us from pitfalls. If you don’t already have an accountability partner, pray for that person today.”
What really caught my attention was the list of characteristics of a partner for accountability. I thought to myself, “Wow, what an excellent guide this would be for picking friends.” Then, sadly I realized I didn’t have a single person in my life that met every one of these characteristics. Further self examination revealed that over the years, many of the people I’d thought of as friends, using this list as a sort of litmus paper, were really just acquaintances.
So with my birthday not far off, and my habit of making that my New Year, at the top of my list for the coming year will be finding friends and an accountability partner with those seven terrific traits.
I encourage you to do the same, and to please follow the links to the “In Touch Ministries” and show them your support.
James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”