Accountability.  It can be an intimidating word or idea.  After all, the word is most often used around breaking bad habits or establishing good ones that are just oh, so hard to do.  It’s not usually thought of as a ‘fun’ word.  Our bad habits can be downright embarrassing and our good habits that we are striving for can set us up to fall on our faces when we miss the mark.  Why would we want to give anyone a front row seat to that? Is accountability a prehistoric, masochistic concept?  Or is it still a valid key to success?

I have struggled with the concept of accountability myself.  Looking back, I think that came from not quite understanding what makes someone a good accountability partner…or not.  Here I will share some of the do’s and don’ts that have helped me to realize that under the right circumstances, good accountability is a precious gift.

Don’t choose someone that is struggling with the same issue as you.  I thought that if we had a common habit to break, we’d make perfect partners.  I forgot that it is misery that loves company.

Do choose someone that has mastered what you are trying to accomplish.  When you are serious about breaking or making a habit, try to go for someone who has succeeded in that area.  You will be able to learn their secrets for success rather than trying to blindly stumble forward beside someone who is also trying to find their way.

Don’t choose your best friend.  I thought that someone who knows me best would make for a perfect accountability partner but it’s almost like mixing business with pleasure. Finding someone that cares for you but is a little more removed than your BFF can help.  After all, sometimes our best friends can be too gracious with us; that is one of the reasons why we love them so much, right?

Do pray that God would bring you the right accountability partner.  When it comes to your success in an area of struggle, you want the right person by your side. It may be someone that you have not considered but God has already been specially preparing to help you. Pray about it and then pay attention to the people that suddenly pop up.

Don’t choose someone of the opposite sex.  It might sound sexist but especially when you are dealing with sexual issues, being in an accountability partnership with someone of the opposite sex can work against the progress you are trying to make.

Do choose someone of the same sex.  The Bible outlines who we should be carefully receiving instruction and special guidance from. If you struggle with same-sex friendships, you may want to look into why that is with some wise counsel.

Don’t choose someone who has gossiped to you about others.  If someone has talked about others to you, they’ll talk about you to others. The work you are undertaking will be hard enough without the worry of it becoming water-cooler entertainment/conversation.

Do share your missteps once you find someone.  If you go to all the effort to find a great accountability partner, don’t forget to utilize them!  “Confession’ is one of the most important aspects of accountability; there is something about it that is key to the whole concept. Our unspoken shortcomings can have more power over us if we keep them hidden in the dark.

Do celebrate along the way!  Any progress and accomplishment, however “small”, needs to be reinforced with plenty of positivity and praise. Don’t just share your failures with your accountability partner, share your victories too!