Let's talk about the structure of your accountability first. Think about a behavior you want to get control of. Now tell this behavior to another person. Tell them exactly (not kind of) what has control over your life. Be brave, the embarrassing part is short lived; the freedom can be lifelong.
Before we go any further let's look at a poor example and better example. Robert was struggling with vanity. He was an attractive looking 30-year-old in above average shape, which he would talk about easily. He worked in a 24-hour gym as one of the lead fitness trainers. Robert was able to state what was controlling him (vanity) in a clear manner and sincerely wanted Christ to be seen in him more than vanity. Robert made the following three behavioral goals.
- Not to turn a conversation toward his physical appearance.
- Not to flex or pose in front of a mirror (this was a daily ritual).
- To wear a regular T-shirt at work and when working out.
These were Robert's first three goals. He decided to make Marc (another trainer) his accountability partner. Marc was also a trainer. Marc was 24, newly married and a Christian for about two years. Robert told Marc he was struggling with some pride issues and wanted to meet for breakfast on Thursdays to go over his goals.
Marc and Robert met and the first two to three meetings went well. Robert went over the goals and really was doing pretty good. By the fourth meeting the conversation went more like, "So how are you doing?" and then the two trainers would wolf down some Egg Beater omelets, talk about "the biz" and generally shoot the breeze.
Slowly, Robert began to shift back to some old behaviors. The Spirit pricked him one morning when he was posing after taking a shower that he needed more accountability. After talking about this, Robert picked a 55-year-old, large farmer-type named Rock who was the men's ministry leader. Rock was exactly that--married over 30 years with four grown kids, he had countrified wisdom about him. Rock was able to help Robert stay on track.
For accountability to work, it must have the following ingredients for you to get control over a behavior.
1. Be Specific
2. Focus Your Accountability:
3. Get Success
Now let's make a decision before we go any further. Take a moment and write behaviors you need accountability for in order to help you get control over what is controlling you.
Now take another minute and decide in what priority these behaviors are best to be addressed. What behavior do you want to address first? Some people choose the most difficult behavior to start with and others choose the easiest one.
There is a primary important decision you have to make before you can get control over the behavior controlling you. You have to decide whether you will be whole-heartedly accountable to another person. You have to decide that you are absolutely done with the idea and that you are going to do it all by your "almighty self." With the first behavior you listed previously as your top priority, are you willing to be accountable to another person?
Are you willing to be accountable until you have six months of being in control over what has been controlling you? Now, look carefully at what I just asked you. I did not ask if you would be accountable for six months. What I asked you was if you would be willing to be accountable for six months where you have been successful at controlling the behavior that in the past has been controlling you? This might take nine months, a year or longer. Are you willing to persist until the mission is accomplished?
To the brave souls that are in for a new experience of getting control over what is controlling you, I say congratulations. If you follow through with your accountability, you can finally get control back into your life.
Take a moment and think through the people you know who can help you with behavior No. 1 on your list of these things that control you. You can think through friends, people you know from church, support groups or others. As you think about this, you may also want to pray and ask God who would be best for you to be accountable to.
Usually you will have a peace about the right person as you go through this process of choosing someone. Remember, there is no perfect person except Jesus. So you get to pick from people who are flawed but loved, just like yourself.
After a while of praying and thinking, I want you to place the name of the person or persons you will be accountable to get control over what is controlling you. After you ask this person to be your accountability person, write his or her name down. Realize also there may be a different person more suitable for different behaviors you are getting control over in your life.
The other request you will need to ask is that when you meet, you will first review your behavioral goals and your current measurement of the issue you are trying to get control over. What you are committing to is to be totally honest even if you fail. You may also ask that part of your accountability be that you pray together before you conclude your meeting.
Sharing exactly what you are asking of your accountability partner gives them the best opportunity to help you.
Doug Weiss, Ph.D., is a nationally known author, speaker and licensed psychologist. He is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the author of several books including, Get a Grip. You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, drdougweiss.com, by phone at 719-278-3708 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org