The 40 Day Challenge Part 3: Run With

Day 34: On Making It Mutual

Over the last several days we’ve defined accountability from a biblical perspective, and explored how it can go wrong. But what does it look like in practice?

Counselor Brad Hambrick puts it simply: it’s friendship. He says, “Every instance of accountability that I’ve ever seen endure, did so because the two (or more) people were friends and acted as allies on the journey toward a porn-free life; not because they enjoyed going on a sin-hunt.”

But, of course, an accountable relationship goes deeper than an ordinary friendship. Think of your own friends for a moment. How would you describe them? Chances are, you have several friends who you enjoy but don’t trust with your secrets, several other friends who you might trust but would remain neutral instead of encouraging or discouraging your behaviors, and maybe one or two friends who would be both encouraging and willing to call you out when necessary.

Trust is one of the most important aspects to a successful accountability relationship. As Brad Hambrick says, “We trust those who show the ability to care for us well. Many of the questions asked between accountability partners (by now you should hear “friends”) should be for the purpose of demonstrating care for the individual so that trust is developed and greater honesty ensues.”

Ways to Ask Your Ally to Build Trust

So what do you do if you don’t have a strong friendship with your ally? Maybe you don’t have a good friend who you trust with these secrets. Where do you go?

Start by looking for someone you think could be that person in your life. Maybe it’s someone from your church who you don’t know well. Maybe it’s a friend from an online community who seems to share a lot of wise thoughts.

When you approach that person, be honest about your needs. You’re looking for freedom from a sensitive issue. Approach them by making it clear that you know it’s awkward, and it’s okay if they say no.

But make it clear that you genuinely care about them, too! Maybe you have a shared interest or hobby. Maybe you just always appreciated their sense of humor. Both of you will get more out of the relationship if the goal is not just freedom, but a deep, lasting friendship.

Ask Common Questions

Brad Hambrick suggests several questions for allies to ask beyond questions about temptations and struggles:

  • What are you doing to enjoy life?
  • What new stressors are entering your life?
  • Would you like to “just hang out?”
  • Who or what is getting too much air time in your thought life right now?
  • What are you passionate about in the coming weeks, months, or year? How is it going?

Some of these questions may get into triggers and temptations, but they’re also applicable in general! Maybe the stressor is that the weather has been gray and rainy for several days in a row. Maybe the “too much air time” question is about a family friendly TV show! These can be springboards for simply opening up about the basics of life. By the way, make sure to ask these questions of your own ally. Even if the friendship was started to help you break free, asking your ally about themselves will help build a bridge of trust between the two of you.

Consider Making It Mutual

Another great way to build trust and respect is to make the actual accountability mutual. Jen Ferguson explains:

Part of the myth of accountability is that you need it only when you have this really big sin in your life that you can’t shake by yourself.

But here’s the truth: sin is sin. By definition, sin is simply separation from God. There is not a hierarchy of sins in His eyes. If you’re struggling with any sin from gossip to envy to porn, He wants to help you overcome it. He wants you to have people in your life that will encourage you, empathize with you, and be a compassionate truth-teller because, hello, we need people to tell us the truth about ourselves, even if it’s hard to hear.

In other words, ask them where they’re struggling, and where they feel broken. Invite them to use Covenant Eyes and to send you their reports. Offer to be for them what you want them to be for you. You both will be better for it.

Today’s Reflections:

  • Pick one of the questions asked here. How would you answer it?
  • How can you work from your end in your friendship with your ally?