Practical Disciples: Authentic Accountability
About Today’s Practice
Living our lives with the Spirit of truth (John 16:13) also means we must be honest and open about where we are, especially with those we live in close community with. I’m not saying we have to tell the whole world our deepest, darkest secret. However, it is important to bring our sins and faults into the light through authentic accountability and partnerships within the discipleship process so we can grow, learn, and mature spiritually (Isaiah 29:13, Ephesians 5:13; 1 Corinthians 4:4-5, James 5:16). This is a process that will not only keep us humble, but will also help us to overcome our sins together in community.
Before we get going, you’ll need these things.
- Think about someone in your inner circle.
Let’s read James 5:13-16
“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
WHY AUTHENTIC ACCOUNTABILITY?
I chose the words authentic accountability because it’s not just enough to have accountability as a Christian. I consider “authentic accountability” to be the inner circle. The people you trust the most in your life. While regular accountability is important, it’s equally important to have someone in your life whom you love and respect, someone who knows your heart and can tell you when you need to repent or make life adjustments. The principal aspect of authentic accountability is willfully submitting yourself to that exhortation. If we enter into an accountability relationship with someone but we never listen to their correction, the accountability is worth nothing.
Jesus chose twelve people that he would do life with. He was devoted to teaching them, investing in them, and holding them accountable. They ate together, they taught together, they learned together. They knew one another’s heart, soul, and mind. Those men chose to be held accountable and because they entered into that relationship with Jesus, almost all of them changed this world. You can still feel and see their impact today, 2,000 years later, all because they agreed to be taught and corrected.
AUTHENTIC ACCOUNTABILITY AS PRUNING
Relationships are messy. This is why in my 7 Practices Curriculum I have Forgiveness before Authentic Accountability. Sometimes the people who we choose to be in our inner circle will say things that will hurt us. Sometimes they’re wrong. But sometimes they are painfully right. And when we experience that pain and that offense, we must look at it as pruning. Sometimes there are things God wants to cut off of us so that we can grow closer to him. But if we live a life that is offended at every turn, we will miss what God wants for us so that we can grow closer to Him and love others better. If you’re able, go ahead and watch this video from Henri Nouwen from 17:30-20:52.
Ask the Lord if there are specific areas in your life that you need to be held accountable for. Are there any areas of your life that need to be pruned so that you can bear better fruit? That may be too much Christianese, so bluntly, what areas of your life are holding you back from following Jesus at a deeper level? If you don’t know who is in your life that could come alongside you, ask Jesus to send the right people into your life.
Now take a minute or two and write down the answers from your prayers in your journal.
Here’s the gameplan:
1. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit who should be in your inner circle.
2. Be intentional. Make it known to them that you want them to be in your inner circle. Tell them that this relationship is meant to help you grow spiritually and you want genuine and honest feedback so that you can grow effectively.
3. Make sure that there is an open line of communication and that you are meeting frequently. Depending on the person this may be a few times a year or once a month. Whatever works best for you as long as there is open communication.
4. Come up with a few things you know you need to work on and share them with your inner circle. Work together with them to come up with S.M.A.R.T. goals so that you’ll have a timetable for growing effectively. However, a quick disclaimer here, some areas of growth will take longer than others. Some you’ll have to work through the rest of your life. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be intentional on making those daily adjustments.
5. Each time you receive feedback from your inner circle, pray about each thing. Let the feedback, whether painful or not, motivate you to grow. Seek the Lord on how to handle that feedback and how you can love the Lord better moving forward.
We were not made to do life alone. The right people in your life can catapult your spiritual growth and help you live out your calling. Be wise in choosing your inner circle and make sure to spend ample time praying about who those people should be. Never make huge decisions without consulting God first!