Throughout the 30+ years I served in pastoral ministry I have witnessed too many church pastors in America lose their positions of church leadership because of financial or sexual indiscretions coming to the light of day. This long list of ministry tragedies might have been avoided had there been accountability relationships in place.
Accountability can be more than helpful in the battle to overcome temptation. An accountability partner can be there to encourage you, rebuke you, teach you, rejoice with you, and weep with you. Every Christian should consider having an accountability partner with whom he or she can pray, talk, confide, and confess.
Throughout my days in ministry, I always had at least one other man who I enlisted as an accountability partner. In weekly meetings I gave this person permission to ask me any question about my personal professional and spiritual life.
Seven questions that I requested be asked of me of my accountability partners were:
- Have you been with a member of the opposite sex anywhere this past week that might be perceived as compromising?
- Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?
- Have you exposed yourself to any pornographic material?
- Have you spent consistent time in Bible study and prayer?
- Have you given quality time to your family?
- Have you just told the truth?
- How are you doing? How are you really doing?
Knowing that I would be asked these questions had me thinking throughout the week when situations arose that I was going to have to answer for whatever I did next. This accountability served as a deterrent to whatever temptation I would be facing and encouraged me to choose the right path.
So, what should we look for in an accountability partner?”
There are biblical patterns to follow when it comes to any close relationship. The first of these is the command to be “equally yoked” with anyone we enter a partnership with, “for what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14. We should not partner up with unbelievers—not in marriage, not in business endeavors, and certainly not in spiritual matters. Plain and simple, an accountability partner needs to be a committed Christian.
Second, an accountability partner should be someone we can trust. We should trust him or her to be discreet and keep confidential information confidential: “He who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered” Proverbs 11:13.
Accountability partners need to be able to freely tell one another intimate details about their struggles with temptation, family matters or questions of faith. Personal things which are disclosed are not meant to be shared with third parties. Due to the personal nature of many things shared, it is also advisable that accountability partners be of the same gender. I reiterate, never choose a member of the opposite sex as your accountability partner.
In choosing an accountability partner be brave enough to seek out one who will have the courage to tell you the truth. The job of an accountability partner is not to agree with us or affirm our behaviors; we need someone to hear us, accurately assess our needs and direct us with Godly wisdom while pointing us to the truth in scripture. The truth hurts sometimes, but the Bible reassures us that “wounds from a friend can be trusted” Proverbs 27:6