Forget Accountability, Pursue Discipleship.


A few years ago I thought I would try to get some guys together to talk about accountability and the idea of accountability partners.

I drafted up several letters to invite random guys from the church to talk about it.  Long story short: Like an overconfident, overzealous, rookie fighter pilot, I was shot down before my mission began. From the smouldering wreckage of my fighter jet, I emerged. I was confused as to why so many would be against it.  The most common response I received was that the spouse should be the accountability partner.  

I relented.

Confused and battered I sought answers.

A few years later, I realize that my my zeal was misplaced, and that a better phrase than accountability would be discipleship.

Accountability partners typically end up being like addiction recovery sponsors.  There is nothing wrong in this of itself, especially if one has an addiction and is waging war on it, but this relationship can lend itself to the sin of pride.

What do I mean?

Let’s say you struggle with some form of addiction, say pornography – which is a battle of many men.  And let’s say that is the point of your accountability partnership – to merely help you get over your addiction, to help you stop this sinful behaviour. A person in such an accountability partnership would feel pressure not to slip into lustful behaviour, so that he wouldn’t have to embarrass himself in admitting the sin. In this case, pride becomes stronger than lust, and you have just traded one sin for the other.  Or, perhaps, you can’t overcome your lust, and in your pride you lie to your partner that you did not lust. Well now I just gave into lust, pride and lying. A partnership like this, one that simply seeks to stop a sinful behaviour, will inevitably fail.  It is possible to have accountability merely become a tool toward religious moralism, or legalism, if Christ is not the center.

Well over three years later, I still believe that accountability is a good thing, that is, if it is done as part of a biblical discipleship relationship with the gospel at it’s center.  I have had a couple of “accountability partners” in the past decade, and God has certainly used them to help me in my walk with Christ, in my marriage and other ways…but I have changed my view on what the emphasis in this relationship ought to be. The emphasis of this relationship must not merely be stopping a sinful behaviour, but of developing, maintaining and nurturing a relationship with Jesus Christ, and within that relationship, healthy behaviours will begin to be revealed as the Spirit works new life.

I was asked recently, “What kind of questions do you ask in an accountability relationship?”

My response was “forget accountability, pursue discipleship…after all, accountability is built into a biblical discipleship program or relationship.” 

The point is not to merely stop a sinful behaviour, but to point us to, and keep us accountable in our walk with, Christ.  With that said, there are a number of things I desire to be held accountable for, and have a list that is based on the ten commandments, but is ever changing.  This list is not meant to cause shame or to simply change behaviour, but to be a constant reminder of our utter need for Jesus Christ.  In this way, the ten commandments are a wonderful God-breathed resource for us to build our questions as we focus on the grace of Jesus Christ.

The list?

No, I wont share that here.  I can tell you that it does involve the things I struggle with and is based on the 10 commandments, but the details are better left unsaid.

Go find a person to disciple you.  That is all.

Forget accountability, pursue discipleship…accountability will be an inevitable result.






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