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The Best Way to Build Your Accountability Team

Last Updated: December 3, 2019

Michael Leahy
Michael Leahy

Michael Leahy is the Executive Director of BraveHearts, a ministry providing mentoring-centric solutions for men who struggle with habitual sexual sin. He’s the author of five books, including Porn Nation: Conquering America’s #1 Addiction, and is considered a subject matter expert on sexual addiction and recovery. A father of two grown boys and a grandfather, Michael and his wife, Christine, live in Gainesville, GA.

There’s no question that one of the biggest challenges facing us guys fighting to overcome habitual sexual sin is finding good accountability partners. This is true whether you’re just starting out, or if you’re many years into recovery. Like a high achieving pro scout, we’re always on the lookout for good, strong, trustworthy men to fill out our accountability team.

The Accountability Partner Bottleneck

In my last blog, I offered up some tips and suggestions on what to look for when searching for a good accountability partner, including where to look and who to turn to for help. Let’s face it–this blog is full of great advice and guidance from a lot of experts on what to look for in an accountability partner.

So what’s the problem? Why is it so hard to find good accountability partners?

For one thing, the actual task of finding qualified candidates and initiating contact with them can be awkward and time consuming at best, and at worst, risky and unsafe. It’s difficult for men who’ve been unfaithful and untrustworthy in their addiction to learn to trust others. Add to that the guilt and shame most men who struggle in this area bring with them into the recovery process, and just calling another guy can be like picking up an 800 lb. phone.

But I’ve also found there’s an even more fundamental reason that often gets in the way. A lot of times, it just comes down to having a hard time finding someone you like spending time with. You know, people you’ve got something in common with, who like doing the same kinds of things you like doing. In our busy lives, building healthy male relationships often gets pushed to the bottom of our priority list. So when we really need it the most, we’re out of practice finding and building healthy male relationships. Especially those that go deep and get personal.

Compatibility Factors for Guys

But when those relationships do click, it’s usually because there’s a good match in a certain set of criteria. Here’s a sample of some key criteria I’ve seen most guys use when considering who they want to spend time with, whether it’s for the primary purpose of accountability or just hanging out together:

1. Like-minded and like-hearted

I believe that this compatibility factor trumps them all. When a guy finds another guy who, at least in the case of their common pursuit of sexual integrity, has a similar attitude and level of commitment towards the task at hand, their connection takes on a greater sense of purpose and meaning. There are the spiritual sojourners, the equally yoked brothers in Christ. These pairings are hard to find, but also hard to separate.

2. Age and Marital Status

Age and marital status are what I’d consider to be the next biggest factors in male relationship compatibility. Guys typically like spending time with other guys their same age and relationship demographic more than they do guys from another generation and a different marital status. They just have more in common in their given season of life.

3. Hobbies and Interests

This factor is a biggie and tends to override differences in age – that being shared hobbies and interests. After all, guys are doers. We just like doing things far more than we do talking about doing things. So all the better when we find someone else who likes doing the same things we like doing. It’s relational nirvana for guys!

4. Location

While the younger guys who I mentor are just as comfortable on screen as they are in person, relational compatibility still most often comes down to location, location, location. So even when distance and remote proximity requires regularly connecting by phone or video, those same guys will eventually want to meet up face-to-face, even if it requires them flying clear across the country in order to do so. It’s a necessary step in building a lasting trust.

5. Similar Backstory and Time in Recovery

This isn’t so much a determining factor of whether or not guys will connect in general, as much as it is a helpful guide for someone wanting to know what kind of accountability relationship they might be headed into – whether it’s with a peer, mentor or mentee. Of course, we need all of these kinds of men in our lives. Guys start to figure that out when they start sharing their stories and talking about their past and present relationship with pornography, sexual temptation and sexual sin.

This is just the short list of the key criteria I’ve seen guys use when deciding who they want to start spending time with. There are others as well. Naturally, the more of these factors they discover they share with another guy, or those they find they work well with in spite of their differences, the more likely it is that they’ll be intentional and invest in that relationship.

  • Comments on: The Best Way to Build Your Accountability Team
    1. Mitch

      Watch Bas Rijksen’s video “Why Christian Accountability Groups Are Awkward, Fail, And Make Us Liars” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciGFXzKHPZs). Why is it that supposedly grace filled Christians suddenly become works-based sin managers when it comes to porn? It’s almost like porn has become the unpardonable sin, but only when it is the husband who is addicted. Are there actual accountability groups for women addicted to porn or sleazy romance novels? Did any of the millions of Christian women who paid money to see 50 shades or the sequel get told they needed to join accountability groups to keep them from sinning? In fact, what other sin besides porn addiction warrants the accountability group solution? Habitual lying? Over-eating? Slandering your spouse? Gossiping about other church members? Cross-dressing? Homosexual temptations? Even alcoholics get treated better by the secular culture than porn addicts gets treated by Christians.

      • Chris McKenna

        Hello, Mitch – I apologize that your blog comment was lost in my backlog that developed while I was on a recent family vacation. I appreciate different perspectives. Sin management does not cut it! I think Bas brings up some very good points. Being Holy and righteous requires “work” – “effort.” So, there’s a balance that we’re looking for. Matt Chandler (pastor: The Village Church) uses the phrase “grace-driven effort.” The best accountability relationships (not “groups”) are those who are more concerned about my overall holiness than just my misplaced idolization with sex. Yes, the latter is an indicator of my heart condition, but I’ve found the best relationships are concerned with my whole condition. I agree that many Christians have elevated sexual sins. I don’t like that at all. When was the last time someone asked me, “have you been greedy this week?” Never! So, I think there’s some comonality here. I appreciate your post.

        Peace, Chris

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