3 minute read

Taking Accountability to the Next Level

Last Updated: July 30, 2021

Luke Gilkerson
Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Your Brain on Porn and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

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.”

– – – –

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

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.”

  • Comments on: Taking Accountability to the Next Level
    1. Chip Bell


      I wouldn’t worry about Internet pornography. If you have an addiction there are services available but It’s not the pornographers fault if some one is addicted. I personally enjoy a little porn on the net once in a while. If some one is addicted their sick, that’s not the fault of pornography or beer or casinos it’s just a mental problem. I would recommend staying away from belief in fairy tales like talking snakes and people walking on water. Common sense tells us that these things don’t really happen and belief in them is walking away from reality this is not mentally healthy either. You might want to check out these urls http://www.atheists.org or http://www.ffrf.org these organizations can help keep you grounded in reality and to avoid dependence on fantasies to explain the natural world and life in it.

    2. Hey Chip,

      Thanks for stopping by and voicing your thoughts. I agree that addiction is never the fault of the supplier: addiction is a result of us voluntarily giving ourselves over to an addictive habit or substance. I try to never blame the adult industry on this blog for personal habits or compulsions, and if you ever catch me doing that, please call me out on it.

      You are also right that common sense tells us that things like “talking snakes and people walking on water” don’t really happen. However, your line of reasoning doesn’t follow here. If miracles were “common” they wouldn’t be “super”natural. The biblical stories talk about the extraordinary acts of God precisely because they are extraordinary, not because they fall in line with “common” experiences. As to whether certain biblical stories really are fairy tales, that remains to be seen (and I would love to dialog with you about why you think this is the case).

      To say that belief in biblical accounts is not “mentally healthy” also goes against much of the psychological evidence out there. By what are you measuring mental health? Adherence to your personal understanding of reality? Emotional stability? Personal happiness?

      Again, thanks for your thoughts and for stopping by our blog.

    3. Thank you for coming by my blog and bringing me here. Our pastoral staff at our church all use covenant eyes, but feel like we use it more in the cop sense instead of really caring about what the others are doing and seeing what is happening. I think I’ll send a copy of this to the rest of our staff (as I have already sent my friend whom I keep accountable here to take a gander.) Well written and convicting.
      Again, thank you.

    4. I really hope to become a cardiologist someday, and all of this I just read……HELPED ALLOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *