I’m a pretty bad at being a good accountability partner. If there was a book on how NOT to be an accountability partner I could write it. But then I’d forget to recommend it to you because I’m not a good accountability partner.
Honestly, the word accountability rubs me the wrong way. It’s just become a source of stress and legalism and something you do when you want to sound Holy. It’s kind of cold and doesn’t really exhibit any warmth. Accountability partner just means friend you confess to so they can tell you it’s okay and you are loved and covered by grace and to just get up and try again.
Until the next time, when you repeat the whole cycle again, with nothing really changing.
Add in the likely fact that your accountability partner is also a porn user and that right there is a recipe for disaster.
I would like to propose another term instead of accountability partner and it is this: Fellow Pilgrim.
As you may know already we started a new type of small group called My Pilgrimage this year which focuses on a different approach to porn addiction in the church. With that in mind, here are three ways to think about accountability differently that can help us be better pilgrim pals. (No?!….Too much?)
1. It levels us out.
Because I am a fellow pilgrim I do not pretend or seek to believe that I am perfect. Far from it. This in turn allows me to create an atmosphere where you feel comfortable opening up about what you are dealing with. We both know we are on the same journey, so I won’t judge you for anything you tell me.
Sure maybe I don’t medicate with porn anymore, but I sure as heck medicate with other things. Social media, Netflix, ice cream, sports, ice cream, sports to burn off the ice-cream.
I am not better than you.
2. It helps avoid easy (but unhelpful) answers.
Since, as someone who has trod the addiction road before, I know what it’s like to be in the middle of an addiction, I will do my utmost NOT to tell you to pray harder or read your Bible more. We love the Jesus answer to questions about accountability don’t we?
But let’s give ourselves (and Jesus) some credit. Jesus isn’t just interested in surface healing. He is interested in getting to the root of our addictions.
Jesus didn’t tell the woman at the well that she needed to believe just a little bit harder. Jesus didn’t tell any of the blind people he healed to come back when they had their theology all straightened out.
That wasn’t important. He wanted to get to know the person and hear about their story. In fact, just by listening you are creating a space for healing for someone else.
So listen and speak up when you need to, but remember that Jesus is a lot deeper than we give him credit for.
3. It connects us at a deeper level.
Finally, the golden rule for how to be a good accountability pilgrim: don’t just tell them that it’s going to be alright. Ugh! I’m sorry if I’ve used this with you or for the times when I continue to use this. This is a major cop out. I’m basically saying, keep your dirty problems away from me because I don’t want to hear it. The person you are walking this journey with doesn’t know it’s going to be alright. Right now, they feel so much shame and hatred for themselves that they can’t believe that.
Yeah, they need to get out of the headspace where this feeling is all they’re ever going to feel.
But sometimes they need to get into the pain first. To sit with it.
Encourage them to do that, reminding them that they are not alone and gently showing them that their pain is going to be what heals them.
Do these three simple things (hey, whoever said it was easy?!) and you will be well on your way to sucking a lot less at being an accountability partner or pilgrim to someone who needs you.