How others can help us live an abundant life- and help us have an abundant marriage- if only we let them in.
What do you think of when you read the word “accountability”?
Do you feel pressure to perform, or find comfort in the thought of someone holding you liable?
If I’m being brutally honest, I do desire to be called out when my thoughts and/or behaviors aren’t aligned with God’s framework for Christian living.
But my bent is toward isolation.
I want to be challenged and grow spiritually, but I prefer to do it with as little vulnerability as possible. Let me put on a smile, hide in my pretty little put-together exterior, and if I happen to let my guard down (accidentally or impulsively), then you can call me out on anything that is misaligned.
But intentionally bringing my good, bad, and ugly to the light?
Um… hard pass.
How often do we find ourselves hiding in the dark, metaphorically speaking? (Check out Tracy's book, Roots Redeemed, where the main character struggles with this very thing!)
We isolate because we’re embarrassed or ashamed; we don’t want the worst parts of us to be known. (But guess what? We are known- fully known- and still loved. Click HERE to read more about this beautiful fact.)
What would people think of me, of our marriage, if they knew (fill in the blank)?
OR we put up walls. Not everyone has our best interest at heart; what will they say about me behind my back?
We don’t want to deal with that, so we stay in the dark.
God wants to bring us out of isolation (one of Satan’s playgrounds) and connect us to a body of believers through accountability and discipleship. He gives us boundaries and brothers/sisters in the body of Christ to hold us accountable. He knows when we live freely in His boundaries, with others encouraging us to do so, we will live an abundant life.
God created our spouse to be our best and most ideal accountability partner.
But there are times when someone outside our situation can help us see things we cannot. Someone who will call us out on our sin and encourages us to conform to the likeness of Christ in loving our spouse and others.
After the birth of our fourth child, I was struggling- as a wife, as a mom, as a human. I felt like a failure in so many areas, just trying to keep my head above the waves that life was tossing my way. I spent many early mornings sitting at our kitchen table, pouring my heart out in desperation to the Lord. The dark before dawn outside matched the darkness in which I sat; isolated and hiding. I knew I needed someone to come alongside me; to help me see the Light.
I started praying for such a person- an accountability partner/a mentor with whom I could be real, even if that reality was downright ugly. God brought to mind two women who have become sweet blessings in my life. Both are sisters in Christ. Both know my struggles and love me through them, even if it means calling my sin, sin. Both share in my joys and celebrate my successes.
You may be wondering: But who do I trust with all that? The good, the bad AND the ugly?
First and foremost, if you are looking for someone to fulfill all your desires and expectations, be aware- GOD is the only One Who can do that! (Jeremiah 17:5-8). We must put our full trust, hope, and confidence in the Lord.
Run to the throne of God FIRST.
HE will provide us with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who can hold us accountable.
Then, pray for Him to lead you to the right person(s) who would hold you accountable.
Keep in mind: we should be careful who we choose to seek counsel from.
God’s Word lists several qualities and qualifications for people in church leadership, but they are just as applicable for Biblical mentors and accountability partners.
So, what does an effective mentor/accountability partner look like?
11 attributes of a mentor/accountability partner
Is there anyone in your life who demonstrates these?
Well-established in the Christian faith (not someone who is a new Christian)
A person of good reputation and above reproach. Someone with integrity. Simply put: what you see is what you get.
Faithful to his/her spouse
Self-controlled; not controlled by bad habits/sins/addictions
Honest and genuine
Loves what is good, upright, and holy
Biblically literate; knows Scriptural truths
Ability to teach others
A person with a gentle and gracious spirit, not quarrelsome or prone to violent outbursts of anger
Not a lover of money or material possessions
A mentor in their own home first
We should all aspire to be a person who exhibits these qualities, and, by God’s grace, we will grow to reflect them more and more. Doing so will set us up for discipling relationships. (Check out these 2 amazing resources, Real-Life Discipleship and Real-Life Discipleship Training Manual.)
Vow to change: an encouraging call to action
1) Consider the following questions, then write down your answers:
Who knows you well enough to see and recognize what’s happening in your life? Who do you “let in” to see the good, the bad, and the ugly?
“Vet” the people speaking into your life; are they speaking from a position of godliness or worldliness?
Is there someone you trust to speak the truth in love when you most need to hear it?
2) Spend time in prayer, asking God to guide you to the person(s) He wants to hold you accountable. Ask Him if there is someone He wants YOU to disciple, mentor, and/or hold accountable.
3) Create a list of questions for your accountability partner to ask you; give them free rein to ask questions as they see a need. (Use questions from the “Vow to change” section in Biblical Boundaries Lead to an Abundant Life... and Marriage to help you.)
4) Be transparent and honest. Don’t hide in the dark, bring your baggage to the Light.
Open Communication + Accountability = Godly Heart Change
Check it out
We can look at boundaries and accountability as two sides of the same coin. BUT, if we really want to get rich and live the abundant life God offers, we need to deposit that coin in the bank of Generosity. Read more in the next post: Generosity: The Power of Graciously Giving to Your Spouse.
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