The word accountability has been subtly stolen from us by our enemy. He’s happy to distort accountability by either of two errors. Many call their small groups “accountability groups”, but all they do is share their struggles. They don’t do anything to help one another change, usually because they don’t know how and they don’t want to risk losing the relationship by interjecting difficult truth. These people would say they’re acting in the interest of “relationship” and “grace” toward each other. But without the courage it takes to be honest and even challenge, change is just a nice idea. Without the willingness to allow others to speak into your life, you don’t experience what life-changing relationship can be.
Or, from a different angle, many “accountability” partners genuinely want to put the emphasis on “truth,” but they do so at the expense of grace and relationship – usually because they’ve never learned the importance of love as the necessary motive and method for everything we do. In our God’s universe we live falsely when we speak without love.
Real discipleship requires the disciple-maker’s ownership of his authority—and the disciple’s recognition of that authority—to lead the new disciple to biblical answers, to life change. Equally important is the understanding that we are called to submit to our leaders and to one another. Even if we are not being discipled by another, we still understand that humility is part of spiritual maturity. When a person challenges us, we can either become defensive or we can seek to discover if God is trying to speak to us through that brother or sister. We test their words by the Word of God, and we know God uses people in our lives.
Jim Putman, author of this blog, is writing a new book called The Death of Discipleship about the dynamics of pride and humility in the discipleship process. Download the free primer for this book here.
Real accountability requires honest sharing from a disciple with the disciple-maker and then going to Scripture for right beliefs, as well as right actions and attitudes, guided by the Lord’s Word. It requires the disciple both to desire change and to receive feedback and support as part of the process. But there is more to it than that. Real accountability has teeth to it. It has power because we give it power — we allow people to ask us hard questions and expect change from us. This is especially true when it comes from the authority God has instituted in the church, home, or world, but again, even friends must be allowed to hold us accountable when they speak God’s truth to us. The one who seeks accountability is willing to submit, and the other must be willing to speak truth in love.
Written by Jim Putman
This was originally posted on Jim Putman’s blog here. Used with permission.