Accountability can sound pretty daunting, and sometimes it is. Especially for us guys. I haven’t spent much time sharing my feelings or struggles with any of the men in my life. My dad occasionally checked in, but most of what we discussed could be covered with just a few words—in yes/no answer form. We joke around and share household “man” duties when my family and I visit with him and my mom, but that’s about it. In high school, my experience with youth group was more about fun and fellowship and less about relationship and accountability. It wasn’t really until after college that I got involved with a church that encouraged what they called “authentic life sharing” and accountability.
For a few years, I managed to get by at the church without anyone really noticing that I wasn’t part of an accountability group. I was involved in the fellowship and singles ministry. I volunteered with the youth ministry and put on great skits, and I even participated for a few rounds per year with the worship team. When I was entering the third year of my time at church, and when I was approaching marriage with my wife, the pastor who was counseling us asked who was in my accountability group. I sidestepped and explained that I had plenty of friends at church and had been so busy, I hadn’t found time.
The pastor pointed out how much time I was spending doing things I enjoyed at church and outside of church and started telling me how critical it would be to have an accountability partner or two to help support me and my marriage. He told me that as I was entering into marriage, I was taking on more responsibility than just the responsibility to take care of and manage my wife, I was also taking on the critical role of serving as Christ to my wife and also preparing for and eventually serving as the head of my household.
I still didn’t know how to start, and I didn’t want to join an accountability group, but my wife-to-be and the pastor wouldn’t leave it alone. So I joined an accountability group out of a resentful feeling of obligation to both the pastor and my wife. I felt like I was walking into an AA meeting—like I was being sent to something because I had a “serious problem”.
Over time, I’ve realized that I do have a serious problem—many serious problems– but my accountability partners have been there to help. Our times together started small. We spent time talking about surface level stuff, grilling out and establishing a baseline friendship. Then we started sharing pieces of our life stories. This took time—a few months really, and then we started opening up about deeper stuff.
Our pastor gave us some guidance a few months in, with some questions to ask at the mid-point of each of our meeting, and we developed a structure: catch-up, issue-sharing and then prayer. I never realized how rich that time would be and how much that accountability would help me over the years. I realized that I had a struggle with lust and that I didn’t love my wife in the way that I ought to through meeting with those guys. My marriage and my ability to be a dad have significantly been strengthened as a result.
I would imagine that a lot of you have felt the way that I did—that opening up was the last thing that you wanted to do. But when we man up and open up about the things we are wrestling with, it’s amazing what having some brothers to challenge and encourage you can do. I think that forming this accountability group has helped me to set a better precedent to with my sons –one in which we can rough house and joke around, but where we can also be real and share about things that matter.