For years of my adult life, I found myself stumbling into the same traps over and over again. I could identify what was getting in the way with the progression of my relationship with the Lord, but despite good intentions, I would constantly find myself in weak moments returning to the same vices over and over.
…And year after year I would proclaim, “I am going to trust God, try EVEN harder, and never mess up again!”
A week would go by and I would mess up…again. This, in turn, embarrassed me in front of God as I felt like He must look at me as a big, fat liar that can’t even follow through with what I set out to do for more than a week or two.
The vicious cycle went on for years and, in spite of all the good intentions, I chased my tail endlessly, unable to figure out why I could not help myself. I was equally embarrassed to tell even some of my closest Christian friends of my struggles because I felt like they certainly never experienced the level of disappointments and weaknesses I had been through.
Those types of lies land Christians on a virtual island, mired in the quicksand that is pride. Even as singles, God did not create us to be alone. Many people, especially men, are afraid to be vulnerable but this fear and pride is exactly what the enemy wants. I have experienced a change in my motivations and desires as I have identified the weaknesses in my life and then tackled those, knowing I had a friend who had my back despite success or failure. It’s important to find an accountability partner, or “AP” as I call it, and identify what is fact and what is fiction in an accountability relationship.
FACT: An AP should be of the same gender.
Whether you are dating someone or have lots of friends of the opposite sex that know you well, it does not matter. A shared gender experience cultivates maximum honesty and vulnerability.
FICTION: If I struggle with something, my AP can’t struggle with it.
Ideally, it would be nice to find someone with temptations in category ‘A’ while I only struggle in category ‘B’. It doesn’t always work like that. However, one of the keys is to gain mutual agreement of trust that neither person will put the other in a position to fail.
FACT: I have to be completely honest with my AP.
The key in gaining beneficial accountability is to use wisdom in choosing the person with whom you are going to air out your dirty laundry. After that person is found, you do have to be completely honest and he/she should do the same. Otherwise, what’s the point?
FICTION: My AP and I need to shame each other should either of us mess up.
In college two of my friends were in accountability with each other, and if one would mess up the other would embarrass him by telling all their friends how he had screwed up. Shame defeats the entire purpose.
FACT: My AP and I will be a locked box of each other’s information.
The ability not only to be honest when you have a shortcoming, but know that anything you say to the other will be kept private is key. Gaining that trust is paramount to the bond required to make each person stronger, which is the entire goal of the relationship.
FICTION: My AP should be in the same “station of life” as I am.
Whether each person is a single or married, as long as honesty and support are not infringed upon and there is an equal commitment from each person to maintain a covenant of vulnerability, that is what matters most.
As people in this world and not of it, we must resolve to find the strength to turn away from the decisions that hinder our growth, even if at times they seem like second nature. Looking for the inner strength to defeat that which exists inside you is often a trap. Instead, if we honor God by cultivating deeper friendships with the people He has put around us, we will find the strength to overcome has been available to each one of us all along.
*Photo credit: SMB College