By Jon Cook
I work in a profession where accountability is a frequent topic of conversation. Everyone needs to be accountable for their time, conduct, money, and their beliefs and work ethic. Pastors need accountability even more because of the nature of their work with people. I have had accountability partners for over 30 years…but that does not make me accountable. A man is only as accountable as he chooses to be. Even in an accountability relationship, one can choose to not share the whole truth about himself or even lie to cover up his sin.
Most of us see accountability as volunteering to participate in a relationship where freedom is given to ask a set of strategic questions for the purpose of discovering another’s sin. In fact, these relationships are frequently ineffective due to our refusal to be totally honest and open about the challenges in our life. We feel better about ourselves because we say we are accountable, yet in reality no real accountability ever takes place.
I have come to believe that the best kind of accountability is being involved in a relationship that provides the freedom and security to voluntarily confess your sin without being prompted by a set of questions. This means we invest in a relationship with another that eventually is characterized by an extraordinarily high level of trust, transparency, honesty, and security. This process takes time, effort, and commitment. I served on a church staff where we were paired with other staff members as accountability partners. I am not sure how much accountability took place. An accountability partner is someone God puts on our heart who we believe can provide the trust needed to encourage confession.
I start most of my days at the coffee shop. There I enjoy many wonderful relationships and stay in touch with people in my community. But the best part of my time at the coffee shop is spent talking with three men who provide safe relationships of accountability. The four of us did not set out to be accountability partners. Accountability has become a part of our friendship as we have invested time in one another through the years. I find myself voluntarily confessing sin and asking for help and prayer support. These special friends have also learned what questions to ask me that encourage confession. They know these questions because, through the years, they have learned what areas of sin I struggle with the most. Accountability is a natural part of our friendship. And it has taken years to develop.