I’m certain we all can say that accountability in our lives has changed our lives. I know it has mine.
We know students fall into the trap of thinking that it is easier, therefore it’s better to keep all the messiness locked up in their minds for no one to see because they don’t want to have that first initial conversation. Students need people in our lives who know them and love them and will be bold enough to shine a spotlight on the areas in their lives that need work. There are many reasons for groups to seek out an accountability partner, but four stand out.
Confession is biblical.
- “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Finding someone students truly trust can be difficult. Even after they find someone, setting aside pride and letting down their guard doesn’t come naturally. We all still have to work at it, to train ourselves, to practice it regularly. Accountability fosters honesty in our lives. It helps us to be more truthful with God, others, and ourselves. Maybe that’s why people say that confession is good for the soul. To have a healthy small group, the practice of confession is vital.
Community is developed and strengthened.
- In a world of Facebook friends and Twitter followers, we live in a culture of shallow friendships. But just because we track someone’s social media prayer requests does not mean that we are in true biblical community with them. Community reveals to us that we are not alone, and our struggles, as difficult as they may seem, are ones others have wrestled with too. We are enabled to walk alongside and learn from each other on our journeys of sanctification, and we are freed from the temptation of comparison or performance. When the load is heavy or seems unbearable, we are able to share the weight (Galatians 6:1-6).
We are sharpened.
- Sometimes we get lazy. It happens. It’s easier to slack off when there’s no one around calling us out and reminding us to walk worthy of the calling we’ve received. (Ephesians 4:1) “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV) When students begin to permit others to hold them accountable, to point out their blind spots, and to speak truth into their lives, they are allowing them to sharpen each other, and in turn, they can do the same for their partner. You can see the relationships begin to deepen and deepen. When that trust is shared, the group begins to see the importance of accountability. They are not only sharpened by each other, but they see God beginning to work in them as well.
We are encouraged.
- Hearing “great job” or “nice work” doesn’t quite do it. We need to cultivate a culture in small groups in which people bear witness in students lives and they see the importance of it. A group in which celebrates the evidences of grace for each other and cheer their friends on when they are limping. Students especially need to know without a doubt that they have someone in their corner cheering for them but also fighting fervently on their behalf in prayer. In a true environment of accountability, rebuke and exhortation is always accompanied with encouragement and love.
Not having accountability can lead to a private destruction. Students (and us pastors) need help seeing, confronting, and overcoming sin in our lives. The Holy Spirit reveals these things to us and empowers us to overcome them, but he uses our community to help us, remind us, strengthen us, and minister to us on our journey.
The Christian life was never meant to be lived in solitude, so let’s make sure our students know they are not in this by themselves and cultivate groups in which have accountability to help them grow deeper in Christ and each other.