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Choosing a Terrible Accountability Partner

Last Updated: August 18, 2015

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

When it comes to overcoming bad habits, choosing a good accountability partner can be difficult.

As the video shows, Mr. Accountability is not the sort of partner we need.

Sadly, many of us have had terrible accountability experiences, having partners who are either too moralistic or too passive.

Moralistic vs. Morally Mature

Moralistic accountability partners have one primary goal in mind: your performance to a standard. They approach you as a cop, not a fellow traveler.

Morally mature partners want to see you grow in obedience, but they know your heart has to come first.

Morally mature people know where real change comes from. Real change is not when we perform in order to be accepted by God, but when we obey because we already know we are accepted and loved by God, through Christ.

Passive vs. Gracious

Passive accountability partners shy away from confronting or challenging you in order to appear gracious.

Truly gracious partners know God’s grace doesn’t just overcome the guilt of sin; it overcomes the grip of sin.

Gracious people know God’s grace is not cheap—Christ died for it. We don’t just confess sins to get cheap peace for a troubled conscience.

  • We confess sins so we can get to the heart of them, to dialogue with each other and hopefully learn why we sin the way we do.
  • We confess sins so we can fully admit to ourselves evil of our thoughts and actions, in order that God’s grace can be appreciated for all its greatness.
  • We confess sins so we can hear others affirm to us God’s forgiveness.
  • We confess sins so we can help each other make plans for future growth.

Choosing a Good Partner

When you aren’t sure who to choose an accountability partner: (1) Make a list of all your friends who appear to be serious about their relationship with Christ, then (2) narrow that list to those friends who you genuinely enjoy talking to. Start there.

When you engage this person about being an accountability partner, understand that many people don’t know how to “do accountability” well. Be intentional about growing together as friends who can be morally mature and gracious.

  • Comments on: Choosing a Terrible Accountability Partner
    1. The assistant pastor of my church is my partner. But more importantly, we’re very close friends. We grab dinner every Wednesday before our congregation’s prayer meeting and talk about whatever. We actually ‘shoot the breeze’ any time we’re in each other’s company, and it’s so awesome. I not only have an accountability partner, but a close friend and brother in Christ that has done an exceptional job discipling me back into the faith. I’d be lost without him, and know it’s been all God’s doing! As it states in Hebrews 13, we are to submit to the godly authority of the church and reflect their example. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      • Clinton Phillips

        I have an Accountability Partner who is a pliceman. To be honest I don’t feel completly at ease with this arrangement. Like you Justin my Pastor too is an Accountability Partner, but an unofficial one. The Policeman monitors my computer, and I feel he is just waiting for me to slip up. We rarely interface with each other, though he gets regular reports regarding my behaviour.
        I am in regular contact with my Pastor and his approach is very different. His desire is to restore me to a better relationship with God as described in Scripture. I don’t feel he condemns me though he doesn’t shy away from telling me when I have done wrong. I feel this to be more supportive and helpful. I thank God for him. The sinner who acknowledges his sin does not need condemnation but restoration.
        I always think of the story in the Bible of the woman caught in adultery, Of all people Jesus could have condemned her but he did not. He sent her on her way as one who is forgiven, he could see in her something others couldnt.
        This perhaps is the difference between the Law of the land and God’s Law. The Law of the land condemns but the Law of God extends grace to the sinner.

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