Accountability is not about asking a list of questions. It’s about being involved in another man’s life. It’s coming alongside other men. Godly men know they need to be accountable, but they don’t always know what that looks like. I’ve been in good accountability relationships and bad ones. I've noticed that the accountability partner has four key responsibilities.
Each job is a skill that must be developed and used at the right time in order to be make the relationship work.
The man who makes himself accountable needs to know he is not alone. He needs to feel that someone is on his side. He needs someone to root for him, but not from the sidelines. An accountability partner is right on the field with him.
A cheerleader encourages and should always be genuine in his encouragement. He shouldn’t say “good job” if it’s not merited. Good accountability partners don’t lie or give fake cheers just to boost morale. The right type of cheering always says: “You can get there. Hang in there. With God’s help, you can do it!”
A man plateaus at times and settles into a comfortable level. This is when the accountability partner needs to challenge. He needs to help his friend stay focused on the big picture, the vision and the mission. The accountability partner needs to help his friend see beyond his current circumstances. This is a good stage at which to talk about the kingdom of God, the gospel and eternal matters.
An accountability partner should also challenge his friend when it is time for the next step. A man needs courage to go into new territory. He needs to know that taking a leap of faith and plowing new ground is important to his growth as a man of God. Sometimes an accountability partner will help a man see further than where he is and challenge him to shoot higher.
Confronting a brother in Christ is the hardest job of an accountability partner. No one likes to confront, but when a man is willfully sinning, it is important that we step in and be “our brother’s keeper.”
Confrontation is needed when there is negative momentum. When sin and failures occur they need to be addressed. When a man is hardening his heart or not willing to take the next step, he needs to be confronted over his choices. When a man’s behavior is hurting others, it must be confronted. Confession and repentance are the right responses to confrontation.
Every man experiences hurts, wounds, disappointments and failures. But it takes a man a long time to start talking about them. As your relationship grows, your friend will begin to trust you with the deeper things. He will slowly expose the hurts of his heart and his feelings about them. This will require that you learn to comfort and be a caring friend.
A good accountability partner knows that a man needs a close friend when times are tough. He shows comfort by understanding his friend and being willing to pray for him, cry with him and demonstrate commitment to him.
The Right Time
Each of the four roles has its time and place. The worst accountability relationships are ones in which the accountability partner doesn’t know what to do, or does what's needed at the wrong time. For example, when a man is hurting and needs comfort, that is not the time to confront him or challenge him; when a man is willfully sinning, that is not the time to sympathize with him or be his cheerleader.