Accountability partners are two or more people committed to holding each other accountable for one or more items related to Christian growth.
For example, you and a fellow church member may commit to checking in with each other on a weekly basis for the next three months about serving in a ministry group or even staying with an exercise routine. The following are my suggestions regarding accountability partners:
1. The power of two or three. Ecclesiastes 4:12 teaches that where two or three are working together there is great strength. It is not strange for people to be inspired by powerful preaching and helpful teaching.
However, when a person does not have to talk about or be accountable to anyone about his/her commitment then it easy to fall by the way side (say “amen” – smile). On the other hand, commitments are more likely to be kept when you have to check in with one or two others on a regular basis about carrying them out.
2. Being equally yoked. Accountability partners work best when you all are compatible with one another. You all don’t have to have identical commitments. However, you all need to at least be inspired by a desire to live in obedience to God’s will.
You and your partner(s) should have personalities that don’t clash. Some people simply don’t have good chemistry with one another. It doesn’t mean one is bad and the other is better. It simply means, sometimes you are better off with someone else.
Make sure you and your partner(s) are serious about carrying out your commitments. You don’t want to waste someone else’s time. And you don’t want anyone wasting your time.
3. Covenant. The covenant or agreement should include at least what each person is committing to doing, the frequency of the check-ins, and the length of time for this partnership. I highly recommend that you write this stuff down and both of you all sign it, after praying about it.
For example, you may commit to being more demonstrative in worship. Your partner may commit to being friendlier towards others. You all may decide to check-in weekly for three months.
The covenant can be much more detailed. However, it should at least include these bare bones. And again, I believe putting things in writing insures a certain level of seriousness about what is going on.
4. Prayer. You are duty bound to pray for your partner on a regular basis, ideally, everyday. Pray that God would give your partner the wisdom and strength to carryout his/her commitment. Your partner is duty bound to pray for you in like manner. I strongly suggest that you all pray for one another, as a part of your check-ins.
5. Check-ins. This is simply a time of talking with one another. It can be over the phone or in person. It can be for as little as fifteen minutes. I don’t recommend a regular e-mailing to one another. You all should agree on how much time you will spend doing a check-in, especially, if it takes more than thirty minutes.
Check-ins should focus on how you all are doing with carrying out your commitments. It is often helpful to talk about joys and concerns that are being encountered, in trying to carry out the commitments. It is important to listen when it is time to listen and to talk when it is time to talk.
Encourage one another to keep going, instead of excusing one another for poor reasons. There are times to adjust commitments. However, many times we are better off by simply continuing to press on.
6. Adjustments. There are times when adjustments in both commitments and partners have to be made. Sickness, injury, financial hardships, and family crisis are just a few reasons that adjustments might have to be made.
And then the commitments may have been underestimated. You may have to lower your expectations or give yourself more time to do what you committed to doing.
And then there are times when your partner is simply not serious enough. He/she may not be helpful enough. God forbid, he/she may not be confidential enough. Whatever the case, there are times to make adjustments.
Try to work it out. If it is simply not going to work, be as nice and as wise as possible, but don’t waste time continuing to do what is not working.
7. Key areas. In most churches, there are three key areas for accountability partners. There are new church family members. It is not strange for people to join but have very few supportive relationships.
Thus, accountability partners can help newer members stay in church, instead of walk out the back door. Not only stay in church, but accountability partnerships can help them to grow.
New leaders like ministry managers and teachers would do well to have accountability partners. When the focus is on skills and confidence and one partner is viewed as more authoritative than the other, this is actually more of a mentoring situation. However, peer to peer accountability partnerships are helpful also.
And then there are those who have made a recent commitment to something. It may be a commitment to grow in giving, to do more personal evangelism, to have regular personal devotionals, to exercise more, to paying off credit card debt, or any number of things.
In summary, accountability partners are helpful for those who are serious about growing in the Lord. Being equally yoked and in a prayerful covenant with one or two others is very powerful. If the check-ins are not helping then sometimes adjustments have to be made. Be sensitive to newer members, new leaders, and those who have made recent commitments.