Like every Wednesday for the past 20 years, I'll get up early this week to meet with Rob and Mike. We have made a commitment to walk through the hard times together and to spur one another on to good deeds. And one more thing: to be accountable to one another for our thoughts, motives, speech and behavior. This accountability has been instrumental in my growth as a father, husband and Christ follower.
Accountability means giving others the freedom to help you order your private and public lives. The goal of accountability is not behavior modification, but rather, as Paul says, to "live a life worthy of the Lord" (Colossians 1:10). I've learned that for an accountability group to work, certain key components must be present:
Trust. Developing trust takes time and cannot be rushed. But over time, you should be able to trust your accountability partners to keep what you share confidential. For 15 years, I helped lead the chapel services for the Milwaukee Brewers. The sign above the door said, "What you see here and hear here stays here." Imagine that sign above the door to your meeting place.
Honesty. Most men are afraid to share what's really going on in their lives because they think they are the only one struggling. To encourage more honesty, why not take the risk and share first? As you do, other men will normally follow.
Permission. You and the other guys in your group need to give each other permission to ask hard questions about areas where you want and need to grow. Relevant questions may include: Have you compromised your integrity this week? What did you do this week to enhance your relationship with your spouse and children? What are you wrestling with in your thought life? Have you been able to control your anger?
Encouragement. With asking the tough questions each week comes the necessity of encouragement. When someone in your group takes a step of faith or says no to sin, the others can cheer him on.
Steve Sonderman is the author of Mobilizing Men for One-on-One Ministry.
Finding an accountability group or partner can be challenging, but be persistent and trust God.
Pray for God to lead you to the right man or group.
Invite guys from your relational sphere — friends, men from church or your small group — to coffee or lunch and get to know them better.
Ask if they're interested in getting together to help each other's faith grow.
Start meeting regularly.
This article appeared in the December 2012 issue of Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2012 by Steve Sonderman. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
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