Christian Accountability

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17  

The concept of accountability is a biblical one. It is a concept much ignored in our present culture and therefore one which we as Christians need to make sure we don’t ignore. There are two types of accountability. The first is that kind from which you cannot escape. Examples of this are the police (who will hold you to account for the wrong you do) and parents (who you are accountable to as children). Furthermore, we are all. by the very fact of our created status, accountable to God for the things he has instructed us to do. 

The other type of accountability is voluntary. Although the two categories do sometimes overlap, it is this type of accountability that I would very much like to encourage you to think carefully about and put into action.

 As sinners we always miss something about ourselves which other people can see very clearly. We are told to care for one another and challenge each other to greater faithfulness. In order to be able to do this we need to know each other. It is hard and counter-intuitive to reveal things about yourself which you are embarrassed about (like prevalent sins) to other people, but I would like to suggest that this is one way which God has set up so that we can progress, with the help of another, in true piety. 

I am advocating becoming friends with somebody who you trust (until you are married it should be somebody of the same gender as you!) and asking them to help you pray through and work through your faults and failings. You will also be able to strengthen each other’s strengths. Help them work through failings that you see in them too and above all point them to Christ!

Here are some questions which you may find useful as I did when thing about accountability:

1/ Did you have a quiet time each day this week? What particular though did you have based on your readings? 

2/ How is your prayer life?

3/ Have you shared your faith with Christians in the last week? What about with non-Christians?

4/How have you been faithful and wholehearted in your work at home/uni/work? Has your labour been Christ focused? (1 Corinthians 15v58)

5/ Is your thought life as it should be?

6/What was your biggest joy this week? Have you practiced joy even if you didn’t feel like it?

7/What temptations have you had this week, and how did you respond? What things will you do to make sure that you rest that temptation better the next time you receive it?

8/How are your relationships with others? What about your relationships with your own family?

9/What disappointments have you had this week? How did you respond to them?

10/What have you done to ensure that outside pressures (eg TV, peers) have been kept in proportion?

11/What have you done to show you servant heartedness this week?

12/How have you taken care of your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit this week?

13/How are you going to improve your relationship with God this week?

14/What is the biggest struggle ahead of you? How are you going to deal with it?

15/Have you compromised your integrity in any way or lied about the above questions?

By Thomas van den Broek

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  1. A very good article... Deffinetley something to think about.

    Thanks for sharing.


  2. Thank-you for this - I found it very thought-provoking and challenging. Actually, after reading it, the Lord brought a verse to mind. It is James 5:16 - "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

    God wants us to confess our failings to one another and pray for each other - that we may be healed. We are told that fervent prayer avails much - it helps to have someone praying for you. Perhaps it would be a good idea if we shared some struggles with a different friend each week and asked them to pray for us. Also sharing our failings with our parents and asking for them to pray with us and for us, I think, is very important, too. God has placed our parents over us to give us guidance and instruction, and God uses them to impart godly wisdom to us to help us in our various struggles. Although it is good to share our faults with friends and pray together (that's such a big part of Christian fellowship), there's nothing quite like having a good heart-to-heart with your Mum or Dad and praying with them and having them pray for you!

  3. Thanks for your comments! That is very good point, Rebekah, about having fellowship with others especially in prayer. I am sure that for many young people it is easier to share faults and failings with those who are the same age etc. rather than their parents. This could be because their relationship isn't very good. What advice would anyone give for a young person who wants a relationship like this (parents praying for them and visa versa) and yet doesn't know where to start? Look forward to answers!!

  4. In light of your question, Thomas, perhaps teens could go through the above questions with their parents? And just simply TALK to them, and be real with them. Sometimes easier said than done, but nevertheless vital for good relationships to continue/grow/mature.

    Anyone else have any ideas?

  5. If a young person wants a relationship with their parents in which they can share their hearts and pray with and for each other etc. but is not sure of how to go about it, then of course the best way to start is to pray! As the hymn says 'take it to the Lord in prayer'! If we are never sure of what to do or need the courage to do something, the best thing to do is to pray. God will give us the grace and strength we need if we ask Him.

    The next step is probably to approach your Mum or Dad and ask them if they could spend some time together over a cup of tea (or coffee!) and have a chat. Or maybe suggest going out for a walk whilst you chat together - whatever feels most comfortable for you. Whatever you do, it is meant to be an enjoyable, relaxed bonding time together whilst having a heart-to-heart. Talk about other things, too - maybe beginning the conversation by discussing things in general and then sharing your struggles and asking for prayer later on in the coversation.

    Which ever way one approaches it, it is important to remember that God has placed our parents over us for a reason: they are there to mentor, instruct and guide us and to pray for us - that is their priviledge as parents. Of course it is vital that we confess our sins and failings to Christ and ask for His help, but it is also important that we respect our parents by sharing our hearts with them as well and spend time with them in praying with them. That is one way that we can show our parents honour, for when we confess to them our faults and pray with them, we are telling them, "I love and respect you, and need you to counsel me and pray for me." We are told in Proverbs "hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old." (23:22).

    I see it not only as a blessing to be able to confess our faults with our parents, receive their godly instruction and pray with them, but also our duty as their children to seek their counsel and prayers.

    Sorry for rambling on! I hope this helps!

  6. Elspeth... I think that is a very good idea. Kids need to talk to their parents more these days. I think if they just communicated a little more, things would be a lot different! It would deffinetly help their relationship with their parents, and it would please God if young people told their parents their thoughts.

    Rebekah-- Very good point, Praying is SO important! God can deffinetly help us in every aspect of our lives. (btw, I do like coffee better than tea! lol :)) Also, it is SO important for us to get godly instruction from our parents... you can't stress that importance enough!'


  7. David van den Broek7 August 2010 at 14:35

    It can be very hard for those of us who are growing-up becoming-indipendant young adults to open up to our parents especially if it is not something that we got into the habit of doing from an early age.

    But if we choose not to make our parents the biggest part of our lives (within the context of relationships of course) then we can expect to get ourselves into a whole lot of trouble (prov 6v20-24 and loads of other verses) and miss out on a whole lot of blessing (prov 2v1-5 and loads of other verses).

    I'm sure it's been said before, but it's so easy for us to say "one day I'll be married and then I will have someone who understands me..." but God gave you your parents for a reason and they realy are a blessing to you, if only you would stop concentrating on their failings and learn to respect them for their strengths.

  8. I think something that is really important is actually *telling* your parents that you want them to be involved in your spiritual walk. The world is teeaching youngsters that parents don't know anything, making it the norm to have very little to do with them and particularly belittling the role of fathers, so I think it's crucial to affirm your parents. Even if you have a great relationship with them, I feel it's still important to let them know that you think they are doing a good job as parents and continue to believe in them.

  9. Tabitha, you're absolutely right! We live in a world that tries to tell us that our parents don't understand us, that they are foolish and old and can't relate to us in the same way our peers can.

    And, let's face it, we as humans love to point the finger at others, and really our parents are not perfect. This can make us resent their instruction because we see their faults. As David said, we should stop focusing on their faults, and see them as a God-given way to be blessed.

    Out of all the people that have come to me for advice, very few of them have spoken to their parents about the issues troubling them. It can be very tempting to run to your friends for help rather than your parents. More often than not your parents have better and more mature advice.

    I guess one thing we should remember is that some of us have non-Christian parents, or parents who simply do not care about what we have to say. Or we can have parents that are too busy/preoccupied to listen. Does anyone have any tips for those of us in that situation? I suppose that finding a Christian adult you can trust to be accountable to would be a good place to start, but does anybody else have other suggestions?

  10. Elspeth, in regards to your question - I would suggest that a youngster in a situation like that talks to their minister/pastor and consider 'adopting' a family to spend time with and get to know really well. Being in a family enviromnent with other, caring, Christians could give you something you are missing out on... Young people who spend time at my family's home love being 'in' a family and if they are away from their parents, it gives them a feeling of security.

    Other than that, I'm not sure what sort of advice that I would give... Except to ask Christians you trust (such as your minister) to help you find good material that isn't off-beam!

    I think, because of the way that our culture says that everyone is to be autonomous, there are lots of people floating about without any real 'family' and I know we can't always (and sometimes shouldn't) fill everyone's needs. I would say, though, that if by extending hospitality and love, we can do something to give people we know an experience of family, we should. When I'm surrounded by a wonderfully loving and safe family, it seems only decent to try and pass a little of that on to other people who are lacking one...

  11. Those were good points, Tabitha. It is lovely being able to show hospitality to other Christians, especially those with sad family situations.

    There are a lot of teens struggling with talking to their parents, and another reason why we should be honest with ours is to set the watching world an example. Healthy relationships with our parents are so vital, let us keep it up and keep setting the example of good communication and accountability.


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