pondering accountability & other thoughts…

Maybe its the chili & cheese laced “Spicy Bite” from SEV, but I’m thinking deep thoughts, musing about days gone by, looking for answers & understanding…

Way back in the day when scoeyd was just a lad in high school, I went to a Summer camp where the speaker encouraged everybody to get an “accountability partner” – somebody that we knew that would ‘help us’ not to sin. I didn’t understand what he meant, but I figured that it was probably just me, & that later on in the cabin I’d be able to ask a counselor (back when calling somebody that didn’t suggest that they were a psychologist or anything – now they are called Cabin Leaders to avoid any confusion… as if…)

When I got back to the cabin, I asked a couple of friends if they knew what an accountability partner was. Nope. They’d heard of them before, but they, like me, had no clue. So together (there is strength in numbers) we went to one of our counselors, a guy that was probably 30 (ancient to me at that time,) & asked him if he knew what an “accountability partner” was?

He said something like,

“Yeah, dummies. Its a person more spiritual than you are that you tell your sins to. And all the stuff that tempts you. And then they ask you all the time if you’re doing those sins, & it keeps you from sinning because you don’t want to have to tell them about it…”

Hmm. That didn’t seem like something I wanted to do – for one it didn’t make sense to me; for another, why would I want to talk to somebody about something that personal & private if I didn’t know them? (And I was pretty sure I didn’t know any Spiritual people that I’d consider close enough to get that gut-level honest with.) So I filed the “accountability partner” suggestion in the mental drawer along with all the other christian instructions that I’d gotten til that point in life, the stuff I had no clue what to do with – my own mental X-Files, if you will.

Over time, I heard about accountability quite a bit more; that doesn’t mean I ever really understood it, & definitely didn’t have a clue how to be accountable, let alone “hold someone” accountable. Something just didn’t “click” for me – so I’d ask the person talking about accountability what they meant by it… what I heard (DISCLAIMER: remember this is me talking, processing, & wrestling through this, not making a definitive statements on my belief about “accountability” let alone God’s position on it…)

As described at large by well-meaning christians everywhere – Accountability:

  • is a forced & inauthentic relationship – not naturally developing
  • is one of those spiritual pursuits that one has to be forced into, for my own good
  • is something that puts responsibility for my thoughts, choices, & behaviors onto someone else – the person who is supposed to be “holding me” accountable – perhaps meaning that it’s not really my fault if I choose sin… if only they’d held me accountable better… ?
  • puts that person in a role of spiritual superior to me – kinda like my own personal assistant to the Holy Spirit
  • Hmmm.

    Didn’t sound right. Doesn’t sound right. There’s got to be something more… something missing.

    To me, some of the things that have been the most helpful to me in growing, developing, & maturing in my relationship with God are:

  • the realization that Jesus Christ has already done the hard work – & now I am responsible for me, my thoughts, choices, behaviors, & relationships – the good, the bad, the ugly. And I can’t (& shouldn’t try to) pass that responsibility on to anybody else.
  • the cultivation of authentic, connected, 2-way relationships – friendships – with people that accept me as I am, faults & strengths; that want to know me & to be known in return; that are humble, not self-righteous; that listen first, & then are willing to speak the truth to me in love… & hear it in return; that want to live as Christ-followers; are willing to be real & to own their own junk, (their own sinful nature, & propensity to wander…)
  • a willingness to learn from others – young & old; to be a life-long learner, even if I’m not in school; to cultivate curiosity & to seek out & follow rabbit trails in my studies… sometimes they’re divine rabbit trails… :)
  • to relentlessly, continuously, & without reservation keep at it.
  • Maybe in that, there is something of accountability – but its not formulaic or forced. It’s 2-way. It’s personally responsible. It’s growing. It’s graceful. It leaves room for error & failure, & is quick to forgive. It’s love, in action.

    Hmmm. I am fortunate – when I look at my life, I see lots of people that know me, really know me, & that I know back, sometimes in differing degrees… And I feel rich, & know that I’m a better man, friend, husband, father, brother, & son because of them.

    2 thoughts on “pondering accountability & other thoughts…

    1. Can you imagine if you were Judas Iscariot’s accountability partner? Bummer, dude . . .

    2. I was never fond of the whole “accountability partner” thing. It just has such a negative vibe to it. It seems to imply that you are a child, you will always be a child and therefore you better have someone to constantly nanny you. Its not that I think there is anything wrong with being accountable or sharing your burdens with others, I think this is something all Christians should do. Its just that the idea of a full time “accountability partner” has nothing positive or encouraging about it. It seems to say that that someone better keep you in line because you will never be mature and that you will always be a horrible sinner with no self control.

      But maybe thats just me…

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