By Elaine Morley
Last year my ears started perking up and my soul stirred when anyone talked about accountability partners. An accountability partner is someone you can go to for good Christian advice who will help hold you accountable to live a Christian life based on biblical principles. As women, we often have many friends, but most want to make us feel comfortable. Very few friends want to help us become better women, wives, mothers and friends. An accountability partner is someone who won’t just say, “Well you are only human,” when you mess up. She’s like that one true friend who will tell it like it is, even if it means you’ve got something funny hanging from your nose.
Even though I understood the value to this type of relationship I didn’t know how to choose someone and get started, or what the rules were for this type of relationship. So I decided to do some research, including talking to a friend who has had a long term accountability partner.
When choosing an accountability partner, it’s a good idea to exclude your mother, husband, and others who are so close to you that they might come with relationship baggage. Even if you have a great relationship with these people, you may find that your deep personal relationship prevents you from being completely open, honest, and vulnerable. Look for someone who has a heart for God, is willing to be honest when they see you falling short of what God asks you to be, and has the humility to want honest but loving feedback from you. You must be equal partners in the relationship for it to work – this isn’t a mentor/mentee relationship. It’s vital that both of you are at a place in your life where you’re willing and able to accept and give counsel.
I believe my partner and I have a successful relationship because above all else, even with our pride, we both desire to live a life that pleases God. Other than that, we have many differences: I’m married and she’s not; she’s in her 20s and I’m in my 40s; she’s fun and outgoing and I’m quiet by nature. Despite the differences in our life stages, it has been a great match.
Once you become accountability partners there are some solid rules you must follow.
- Honor each other’s privacy by keeping all discussions in confidence. Don’t even hint to others about anything you discuss because trust is the foundation for your relationship.
- Keep the person high on your prayer list. This is more of a best-practice than a rule but it’s important to pray for each other often.
- Encourage each other with applause or humble correction. Don’t let your partner fall into a pit because you are uncomfortable pointing out that the hole is right in front of them.
- There must be a commitment on both sides to stay true to your time together. It’s easy in our busy lives to let things like this slip off our schedules. Make time with your partner a high priority, but be flexible as life’s changes make it necessary to adjust when you meet.
My partner and I talk once a week over the phone. In each meeting we start with two questions: “What is a hit you had this week?” and “What is a miss you had?” When we talk about our “hit” we talk about a situation where we hit God’s target for who he wants us to be. This is a great time of encouragement, congratulations and thanksgiving that God is forming us into his image. This is not a time of pride but a time of grateful humility that recognizes that God cares so much for us that he helps us surrender our ways to his ways. When we talk about our “miss”, we talk about where we fell short of God’s desires for us and we talk about what God wants us to learn from this miss. Again this is a time of great encouragement and we often share our own lessons from similar situations or share bible verses that help us understand God’s will in the situation. Knowing that we will be talking about these two things each week helps us stay on track because we know we are going to have to talk about what action we did or did not take, what we said or didn’t say, and how we represented Christ to the world.
I want to encourage you to build a trusting relationship with another Christian woman and see if that opens up the possibility of taking the next step into an accountability partnership. And if you are blessed to already have several strong and trustworthy Christian women in your life, I encourage you to start looking closely at each of them and find your match.
Elaine Morley and her husband, Paul, have been married for 20 years and have called Grace Family Church their home for the past seven. She has two wonderful step-children who still live in Minnesota, but visit Florida often. She serves as a Beautiful small group leader and loves the friends she’s made at Grace who help strengthen her walk with God.