by Karen Ball
Thanks for your feedback on having accountability partners (or, as I’ll call them from this point on, APs). As I researched this issue, I realized there are a couple of things to consider:
What you need to have/do for this to work
What your AP(s) need to have/do for this to work
And I also realized there is a LOT involved in those two things, so we’ll tackled them over the next few weeks. So let’s jump in by asking one of two vital questions:
Question #1: Am I Willing to Be Honest?
The very first thing you need, if having APs is going to work for you, is the willingness to be transparent and honest. Remember, we’re talking about people who will be your encouragers as well as your challengers. You need to let them know what’s going on in your heart and mind. What’s really going on. I’m telling you right now that there are two words that should never leave your lips in your conversations with your APs: “I’m fine.” We all know that usually means, “I’m NOT fine, but I’m not telling you what’s going on.” (And Internet jokes notwithstanding, both men and women use it this way.)
I’m not saying your APs will become your Father confessors, although, of course, they could. What I’m saying is you have to be willing to be transparent. Otherwise this will never work. If you’re struggling with envy over another writer’s success, say so. If you’ve been sick and discouraged and haven’t written a single word, say so. If you’ve had other things that took precedence because they really needed to do so, then say so. This isn’t about condemnation! It’s about having a team of folks to encourage and uplift you. And, if you really, truly need it, to give you a bit of a grace-filled shove.
Over the years I’ve seen, in my own life and the lives of others, that one of the greatest tools the enemy uses against us is isolation. Many of us have had times where when life gets hard and ugly and disappointing, and we respond by withdrawing. We pull our woundedness or failures around us and slink away, immersed in a false sense of worthlessness, of not wanting to inflict ourselves—or our moods, or our weaknesses, or whatever–on others. But here’s the bald truth, friends: that’s not a biblical response. And, really, when we do that, when we isolate ourselves, we’re not “protecting” others. We’re protecting ourselves from having to acknowledge weaknesses or where we were wrong. From having to tell others that we’ve gone off the rails, and from having to do the hard work of surrendering to God’s correction and—wait for it!—make changes. Oy! That’s hard.
But being honest this way, being transparent, is healing and freeing. And it’s Scriptural. Consider:
Jeremiah 5:3: Lord, you are searching for honesty.
Psalm 32: 1-5: What joy for those…whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
Proverbs 28:13-14: People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Blessed are those who fear to do wrong, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble.
Philippians 2:1-4: Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
And that’s exactly why having APs is such a valuable practice. Because these people are there for you, in the good and, most especially, in the bad. They’re there to speak truth and encouragement, to confront when needed, and to help you back on the path God’s set you on. They are there to work with you with one mind and purpose.
The week after Thanksgiving, we’ll explore the second vital question to ask yourself. Until then, I’d love to know your thoughts about today’s question.