Every morning, I wake up to a couple dozen new emails. Most of them are my daily reports on the 25 men who have asked me to be their “ally” for Covenant Eyes. I ask every man who goes through my 90-day recovery process to sign up for Covenant Eyes, which means they will need a friend to receive the daily reports on the use of their electronic devices.
For many of them, I become that person.
Being an ally for a Covenant Eyes user is a heavy responsibility that should be cherished and never taken lightly. When a man (or woman) takes that huge step of pursuing accountability for his use of private devices, his ally becomes a huge component of his sobriety plan. Being an ally takes time, courage, and commitment.
As you progress in your own recovery, you will find yourself helping a growing number of men who struggle with pornography. It is critical that they sign up for Covenant Eyes and that they find you to be a strong ally. But with time, these reviews and check-ins can become predictable and monotonous. How do you keep it fresh? How do you become the finest ally to your friend that is possible?
Let’s talk about it.
1. Consistently direct your friend to new recovery resources.
The Bible warns, “Without counsel they fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). You need to become a funnel of information for your ally. Point him to new articles, podcasts, and other recovery materials. Then, take time to discuss these resources with him as you follow up on his progress.
There are several great podcasts you can look into. A partial list follows: Be Broken; Pure Desire; Samson Society; Castimonia; 180 Ministries; Prodigal’s International; Bethesda Workshops; Mirror of Intimacy; Carol the Coach; Sex, Love, and Addiction; Pure Sex Radio; and God, Sex, & You!
Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”
There is so much information out there. By naming you as his personal ally, your friend has demonstrated a desire for you to be a part of his recovery. When you refer him to some of these incredible resources, you are feeding his progress.
2. Share your personal story with your friend.
A good ally is more than a robotic reader of daily reports from Covenant Eyes. He connects with his friend on a personal level. And every person who becomes serious about pursuing a life of sexual integrity needs someone in his life who is a few steps ahead of him. Your personal story of success will be more meaningful to your friend than anything he’ll read in a book. You need to become personally involved in his life.
Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” By telling your stories of success and failure, you become infinitely more valuable as an ally.
We need to be able to echo the words of Paul: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Therapist Joscelyn Duffy addresses this in her article titled The Power of Personal Narrative (Psychology Today, June 24, 2018). She suggests three keys to connecting our stories with those we seek to help: (a) be real, (b) be their cheerleader, and (c) keep your focus on the other person.
3. Ask open-ended questions.
As an ally, you will receive a daily report from Covenant Eyes. See this as the beginning of your work, not the totality of your work. Schedule a weekly call with your friend, to discuss his sobriety, triggers, and temptation. During this check-in time, ask questions such as:
- What is working for you in your program?
- What’s not working for you?
- What are you going to do this week to stay off porn?
- How can I pray for you this week?
Ask open-ended questions, then let your friend talk. Resist the urge to tie everything he says to your own issues. You are there to be his ally and friend.
4. Ask hard questions.
If you are a people-pleaser, this will be difficult for you. But your accountability friend needs to be able to answer the tough questions if he is to break free from pornography. Here are some tough questions you might ask him:
- What are you willing to do next week that you didn’t do last week?
- How many women did you fantasize about this week?
- How many women did you look at for more than three seconds?
- Did you tell any white lies to your wife this week?
- Were you on your device this week, after 10:00 pm?
Remember, you signed up as your friend’s ally, not his buddy. Sometimes, that requires asking questions you don’t want to ask. But his sexual integrity, sanity, and marriage may depend on it.
5. Pray for your friend.
This sounds trite. Of course, you’ll pray for your accountability partner, right? Actually, most of us overpromise on this one. “I’ll pray for you” may be the most repeated lie for most Christians. So don’t say you will pray for your friend unless you will really pray for him. This may be the finest contribution you will make to his recovery.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.”
Translation: Pray for your Covenant Eyes brother. I want to be able to take pride in my prayer life for my clients and Covenant Eyes users. I have devised a simple formula that guides my prayer for these men, based on “PRIDE.” I seek to pray in five ways.
- Passionately – pouring my heart out on their behalf
- Redemptively – praying that my friends will overcome his struggles
- Intentionally – keeping a log of each person in my phone
- Daily – in my regular prayer time
- Expectantly – believing that my friend will find freedom from pornography
My old college professor, Dr. Gene Wofford, had this to say about prayer: “God has chosen to limit himself so that our prayers make a difference.” If you want to make a difference in your friend’s life, be the kind of ally who prays for him – passionately, redemptively, intentionally, daily, and expectantly.
When King Hezekiah became committed to the protection of his people, he built a wall of defense around Jerusalem. Then he built a second wall of defense outside the first wall (2 Chronicles 32:5). For your friend, getting on Covenant Eyes may be his first wall of defense. Having you as his ally is his second wall of defense. Nothing you can do will assure his sexual purity. But by being the kind of ally he deserves, you will set him up for incredible success.