A new year, a new me
I have mentioned in other blog articles (I’m a mess, masquerade, ok to not be ok) the role safe, healthy, vulnerable relationships play in our own healing and growth. I’ve talked about how healing doesn’t take place in isolation it takes place in relationships. But, I haven’t really talked about how important accountability is. Many of us have made New Year’s resolutions. We’ve possibly said it’s a new year and a new me. Or, we’ve resolved to lose weight, get in shape, eat healthier, or save money and statistics show that by February most have quit and resorted back to unhealthy habits. According to Dan Diamond, a contributor to Forbes.com only 8% of people achieve their new year’s resolutions. However, those that are successful at reaching their resolutions or goals typically have at least one thing in common, they had accountability. In this blog article, I want to talk about the reasons accountability are so important to our success. First, accountability is a biblical principle. In addition, accountability increases connection and it raises the standard.
Most Christians are fully aware that ultimately, we are accountable to God. If there is any doubt a quick read of Romans 14 will clear that up. In fact, many of us will use that as justification to avoid accountability from others. We may say things like only God can judge me, or I don’t need anyone but God. However, throughout the new testament, we see how important accountability is. For example, Galatians 6: 1 says “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness…….” James 5:16 says “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed….” And Luke 17:3 says “Pay attention to yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” These are just a few of the scriptures regarding biblical accountability between Christians.
Have you ever participated in a group Bible study or devotional? Typically, there are reading requirements and an expectation that group members will read the material and have talking points to discuss at the next meeting. There is a layer of accountability woven into the group process. And the expectation of others can push us to follow through with our commitment to the group. That is a corporate or macro level of accountability, which can be very beneficial. However, I want to talk about a more intimate form of accountability that increases connection.
When we reach out to someone, step into vulnerability, and tell them what our goals are, what we are trying to change in our lives, or what we are struggling with and we ask them to walk through it with us and we give them permission to call us out and hold us accountable we are opening a door that leads to genuine connection and growth. 1Thessalonians 5:11 says we are to “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up…..” I think this is one of the reasons the counseling relationship can be so powerful, accountability is built in. Encouraging one another, walking through pain and difficulty and celebrating the victories build's safe, healthy, vulnerable relationships and increases the genuine connection between us but it also raises the standard.
Raises the Standard
You may be curious what I mean by raising the standard. So, I will explain it this way. If I am your accountability partner and I see you reaching your goals, working through difficult situations, giving up self-destructive behaviors and unhealthy choices, I am seeing what you are capable of. Therefore, when the next challenge comes up I am going to remind you of the victories you have already achieved. I am less likely to let you slide with excuses of why you aren’t following through with your commitments. The mere act of entering into a relationship built on trust and accountability holds both parties to a higher standard. Accountability, over time, collects evidence of your success and encourages you to do your best.
On the contrary, a lack of accountability can lead to self-destructive behaviors and unhealthy choices. Have you ever heard the saying “I can do bad all by myself?” Well, it’s true, outside of healthy relationships it is easy to fall back into self-destructive behaviors. In addition, without accountability, it is easy to make excuses and not follow through with commitments. Remember, accountability is more than holding someone responsible it includes encouraging and building one another up. Are you more successful when you have a cheerleader in your corner? In addition, are you more likely to set the example, do the right thing, and follow through if you are encouraging someone else and holding them accountable?
How do I implement?
Now that you are convinced accountability is essential to success, you may be asking how do I go about implementing it into my life. If you have never asked someone to be a mentor or to be an accountability partner you may feel it is somewhat foreign and uncomfortable. And, you would be correct. Growth doesn’t happen in our comfort zones and if you are going to make changes you are going to have to take risks and allow yourself to be vulnerable. For some that may mean praying and asking God for guidance regarding who they should ask to be this person in their life. For others, someone automatically pops into your head as the right person. Whatever the case, be bold, be brave, and step out of your comfort zone and take a risk. It may be uncomfortable and difficult, but you can do difficult things.
What’s the point?
No one wants to fail. We all want to be successful even if success looks different for each of us. If you have goals to better yourself, change self-destructive behaviors, move beyond surviving to thriving, or increase connection with those you love; having a trusted, safe person as an accountability partner can help you accomplish your goals. Do the difficult right thing, accountability improves our lives if we utilize it.