As we have started to look at accountability, we have spent some time separating it from other tools of freedom. Confession, though an integral part of accountability is not, of itself, accountability. Therapy (Professional Counseling), though it does have a time and a place in which it can be useful, is not a substitute for accountability. Support/Recovery/Redemption Groups can also be a great tool in freedom, but they are not accountability.
So what, exactly, is accountability then?
Glad you asked.
ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE REAL WORLD
As I said back at the beginning of this series, a very basic perspective on accountability as it applies to this struggle, is this:
Refusing to fight for freedom all on my own and inviting someone specific to join me in the fight.
In general, accountability carries with it the idea of responsibility. If someone is to be held accountable for their actions, that means they are responsible for their actions.
It is used outside of addictive and religious contexts. We want politicians to be held accountable for how they act. We hold law enforcement officials accountable for their use of deadly force. Basically, accountability is making someone answer for their actions. At any moment, records can be checked, invoices requested, reports filed, in order to keep people accountable.
Accountability in our fight
What does that mean for us? How does accountability look in this battle to break free? Some thoughts:
Accountability is not a position; it is a relationship
In this context, accountability works best in a relationship (not necessarily a romantic one), based on mutual respect and trust. You do not ‘hire’ an accountability partner; you confide in and trust one. In many cases, you might confide in each other.
Accountability is personal.
This is why when some of you write, asking me to be your accountability partner, I tell you no. I can’t be. I don’t know you and am not near most of you. It is easy to confess to a complete stranger online, but I believe that one of the most vital aspects of accountability is that it is ‘in your face.’ To your accountability partner, your life is an open book. This is why I encourage accountability partners to be someone you know in ‘real life’ and see in person frequently.
Accountability does not remove your responsibility
The mistake we often make in accountability is placing all of the responsibility on the one who agrees to help us. If we were in a battle it would be like saying, “Look, I’m fighting this really big giant in my life. I just cannot get a handle on it. So here’s my gun; I’m going to go take a break. I just need you to fight him for a bit or at least let me know when he is coming so I can shoot him.”
If Susie struggles with pornography, she might ask Jane to keep her accountable. Later, if Susie continues to fall, she might fault Jane for not doing her job right. Eventually, she might ‘fire’ Jane as an accountability partner. But what was Jane’s job? It was not to stop her from making wrong choices.
An accountability partner helps hold you accountable/responsible/answerable for your actions. They do not change your actions. You alone are responsible for your actions, accountability keeps that responsibility where it belongs.
Perhaps a more specific definition of accountability is this:
A consistent, personal relationship based on honesty, respect, transparency and love which encourages us to take responsibility for our own actions and provides a safe place to struggle, battle temptation, admit failure, heal, and grow.