While I’d never attempt to argue that having accountability is not valuable nor beneficial in the process of recovery and healing, I do believe that an accountability relationship is only as strong as its’ members, their contributions and a few defining characteristics of the relationship, and that in and of itself, accountability is not the only way for someone to experience victory.
Two things to know about me. One, I’ve had years of failed attempts to bring accountability into my life; primarily because I was a liar and therefore had to bring sexual integrity into my life in the absence of true accountability. Two, I believe that the only way anyone will ever be able to work through the pain, issues and struggles associated with exposure to and the use/abuse of pornography of any kind, is to repent, place complete faith and trust in Jesus Christ and learn what it means to have an intimate and authentic relationship with Him.
So yes, I do believe having an accountability group/partner can be of great benefit on the road to recovery and healing but ultimately I believe the success of any strong and lasting accountability relationship hinges on the presence of a few critical attributes. In my humble opinion those are honesty, transparency, consistency and yes, making time for rebuke and correction.
Honesty. I believe it is imperative (in fact, mandatory) to first be honest with oneself and then be willing to be honest with others. While I realize this idea may seem ridiculously elementary in nature, I think what is staggering is the number of men and women who aren’t and who show up to accountability meetings around the globe unwilling to or simply not being completely honest. This approach will never work. For most of my life, I lied to everyone I knew, including myself. It was not until I repented before my gracious and merciful God and then became honest with myself and others, that I was able to begin experiencing true freedom and joy in my life. If you are unwilling to share the facts and the struggles surrounding your life, it is unreasonable to expect genuine and authentic accountability in return. From the very beginning, the accountability relationship will be constructed upon an unstable foundation – a lie.
Transparency. To piggy-back on the importance of honesty, is my belief that the more transparent someone is, the more likely it is that others will be willing to be open and transparent in the relationship as well. Again, the idea here is to build relationships built upon a solid foundation, where people can openly share the struggles, pain and consequences they may be experiencing and collectively or individually work towards healing and reconciliation. Life just seems to be more manageable and enjoyable when we have others to share life with and to know at least one other person is there to help and who wants to see us succeed. Transparency provides an opportunity to connect intimately in the life of another human being and opens the door for sincere relationship.
Consistency. Unfortunately, I think one of the primary reasons accountability fails is because people, out of their own selfish desires, give up to quickly. For a number of reasons, but certainly consistent with how our society is training us to think and behave, people opt out of accountability because they’re just not getting the results or healing they feel they should get or expect to get from the relationship in any given period of time. As we all know or should know, relationships take time to develop which is all the more reason to view accountability as long-term and consistent commitment we should make to ourselves and others.
Rebuke. Ah yes, and perhaps the most misunderstood yet vital ingredient to any strong accountability relationship is the ability and freedom to boldly and lovingly confront, rebuke, instruct and offer Godly wisdom to our brothers and sisters in Christ. I’ve grown weary of having my ears tickled with flattery and non-sense intended to make me feel good about myself and my destructive ways; particularly in the midst of my most sinful and self-indulgent times. I believe that although not always pleasant, biblical, Godly rebuke and correction is what everyone needs to hear. Furthermore, I believe we are commanded to do so. I’ve witnessed far too many Christians shying away from helping a brother or sister in need, because they felt keeping quiet was the more ‘loving’ approach. Nothing is more loving than speaking the truth in love. This is not just another pop-culture cliché. Rather, it is one of the greatest commands of our Lord Jesus that we as Christians are called to live out. How has “love” become more about an avoidance of addressing sin and a meekness towards speaking out against which that is sinful? We as the bride of Christ have a responsibility to offer up and speak words of rebuke and correction, when necessary, to those we love. This must be a part of any strong accountability relationship if we are to experience spiritual maturity.