Although it’s not a concept that is shared perhaps as much as it should be, at the end of the day, “ministry is accountability”. However, personal experience and overall observation have taught me that true accountability is not the kind that “churchy folks” tend to use as a justification for being in everyone’s business and deciding what is appropriate and what is not—or who is going to hell or not (yeah, be careful with that). It’s more about being safe places (if you haven’t read the book Safe People by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, please do!) for those around us who need, not condemnation, (Romans 8:1) but wise counsel, reliable support and truthfulness.
I say that because over the course of the past few years, I have been asked to be certain people’s accountability when it comes to using the X3 Watch software. One person was so shy about it that when it came to masturbating after watching porn, she would phrase it as “eating a bowl of ice cream” (cute) rather than actually coming out and saying that she masturbated.
And because I know that it can be challenging to let people see the areas where you are vulnerable and weak, over the course of time when I was her accountability partner, when links would come up in the reports that were not “kinda questionable” but blatantly so, I didn’t rush to shoot her an email.
I waited. First to see what she was going to do.
She signed up and asked me to be her accountability partner, after all. Therefore, she already knows where she goes on the internet and what’s healthy and what is not. And besides, I’m not here to be her parent. I am here to be a “soft place to land” and to serve as a gentle reminder (Philippians 4:5 tells us to be gentle with all men, after all) that what she’s doing is robbing her of her time, infecting her spirit, and compromising God’s view of sexuality. I am here to remind her that as James 5:16 tells us, confession brings forth healing and so as often as she confesses, the better she is ultimately becoming. I’m also here to remind her that God loves her no matter what. Sin doesn’t change that. Sin simply causes us to question it (which is why God sets boundaries about what’s best for us and what isn’t in the first place).
If she reached out to say “Hey, I looked at so-and-so this week”, I would simply pray for her. Berating was not necessary. She was already standing in her own conviction.
If after a few days, I heard nothing, then I would reach out: “So, you know I caught this, right?” would sometimes be my approach followed by a, “You good?” And in her response, I would know what kind of “backup” she would need. Warnings? Sometimes. “You’re going to be OK. Take it one day at a time” mostly.
Over time, this approach, has caused her to be more open. “Ice cream” now has its “big girl name” (LOL) and although I don’t get the reports anymore, sometimes out of the blue, I will still receive a confession. And to me, that means that X3 Watch has done its job.
Yes, because of the software, people are more comfortable talking about their strongholds which takes away the fear of not being “good enough” and self-ridicule of watching porn in the first place. And this, ultimately brings about healing.
It’s (technological) accountability at its best.
And yes, another form of real ministry.