Proverbs 27: 17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
If you’re involved in sports, I’m sure you have heard about accountability. You need to take accountability for your actions, for your performance, for your life. An article I recently read said: “Being accountable is not making excuses, not blaming others or whining and complaining. Accountability in sport is taking ownership of something and making sure you ‘know your job and do your job’ 100% of the time.”[i] While I agree with all of the above, as a Christian Athlete I believe accountability must run much deeper.
I believe the topic of accountability in Christian circles has been addressed so often it has almost lost its meaning. In fact, many Christians have even been wounded by poor accountability relationships. It seems men in particular are encouraged from an early age to have an accountability partner to “keep them on the straight and narrow”, particularly in the area of sexual purity. Don’t get me wrong, I believe it is vital for every Christian to have accountability relationships in place, but I believe they need to be much more than “keeping us from participating in bad behavior” or from sinning. If that is all your accountability relationship is, then this relationship is nothing more than a cop with a Billy Club looking over your shoulder. True accountability needs to focus on what we are meant to be “in Christ”, not just what we are “not supposed to be” or “not supposed to do”.
The Apostle Paul and his student Timothy seemed to have an accountability relationship. Through his many letters, Paul constantly encouraged Timothy to fight the good fight and unashamedly proclaim the gospel. In fact, Paul laid out for Timothy the key ingredients of a strong accountability relationship. 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2). A true accountability relationship involves those three ingredients of correction, rebuke and encouragement. If an accountability partner is unwilling to provide any of those ingredients, or if the other partner is unwilling to accept any of those three, then there really isn’t a relationship there. A healthy accountability relationship needs to be grounded in friendship.
King Solomon understood the importance of strong friendship accountability. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) We enjoy reading this, but the reality is that sharpening can be painful at times. It certainly requires humility to be corrected, but it is also so rewarding. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, we read: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
Do you have an accountability relationship in place? Do you have someone who loves you, and cares for you enough to encourage you, correct you and even rebuke you? If you do, thank God for such a person and ask God to bless them and use them in your life to be all that God intends you to be. If you do not, pray diligently to God asking that he bring in such a person into your life. But be honest with yourself, before you pray for that. Do you have the humility to accept what they have to say? The encouragement will be easy to take, but how about the correction and the rebuke? You are first accountable to God, but he has designed us to need each other as well. Choose to be an accountable Christian.