Taking Accountability to the Next Level

So you’ve been asked to be an accountability partner for someone using Covenant Eyes software . . . now what? Most of us don’t have a picture in our minds of what a real accountability partner is supposed to do. Some think accountability is about playing the part of a cop. Others have a very “hands-off” approach to accountability. They think, “I get this person’s Internet use report. They know I’m looking over their shoulder. That’s good enough. If I ever see anything blatantly wrong, I might confront them about it.”

Is there more to being an accountability partner?

I was watching the new documentary, Somebody’s Daughter: A Journey to Freedom From Pornography, and one of the interviews really caught my attention. Here’s what Michael Cusick, the director of Restoring the Soul, had to say about accountability:

“The biblical model is not just accountability but accessibility. And where accountability crosses into something really powerful to transform us is when you’re not a cop in my life, you’re not a coach, but you’re a cardiologist. A cardiologist is someone who is concerned with the welfare of my heart. Jesus said in Matthew 15 that adultery and sexual immorality come out of the heart: its not what goes into a man that makes him do that, it’s what comes out of his heart. So I need a cardiologist. I need someone who is going to care for, and pursue, and probe, and be willing to make an incision in my heart, so that when I come clean, when I open up I’m not just going to sit there and bleed.”

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The Cop – The accountability cop is someone who just lets me know he’s watching me, and that I better not screw up. His job is to enforce the legal code. As long as I don’t cross the line, I don’t hear from him. The motto of the cop is, “I’m watching you.”

The Coach – The accountability coach is an encourager and a trainer. His main objective is to tutor me, to give me the Biblical principles he thinks I need to succeed. He will discipline me if I cross the line, and then try to build me up again by bringing me back to the Bible. The motto of the coach is, “Just work harder. I believe in you.”

The Cardiologist – The accountability cardiologist doesn’t just see me crossing the line or not crossing the line: he wants to get to the bottom of things, he wants to see what sins lie underneath my surface sins (like looking at porn online). He gets together with me on a regular basis and asks me probing questions that help us see why I do the things I do.

So how do we become good “spiritual cardiologists”? How do we get into the habit of helping one another probe deeper to the core issues that drive us as human beings?

The first thing we need to do is see the value in it and make the decision to have this kind of accountability relationship. If we think this sort of relationship is superfluous or unnecessary to living the life God wants us to live, then we need to shift our thinking.

The second thing we need to do is learn from others; don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Each generation of Christians has to learn the art of real community, so glean from the wisdom of those who’ve been walking this path longer than you have.

Recommended Listening

Podcast: “Battling Internet Pornography” – Christian counselor Paul Mavrogeorge is interviewed about the danger of Internet pornography, how to use Covenant Eyes software effectively, and how to have a good accountability relationship with someone you trust (about 10 minutes long).

Recommended Reading

Internet Accountability and Porn Addiction – Thoughts From a Professional – Mental health counselor, Johnny LaLonde, talks about how he personally uses Covenant Eyes accountability, and what his accountability relationships look like.

Character Building Accountability Questions – This is a post with good ideas for probing accountability questions. These questions go well beyond Internet use to every area of life.

From Accountability to Discipleship – This is a post about the importance of finding older, wiser mentors: people who are good “spiritual physicians.”