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Accountability Partners for Christians Battling Lust

Perhaps – like me – when you hear the word accountability, you envision New Year’s Resolutions of losing weight and making vows with your friend to hold each other to your shared goal of losing 2 pounds a week. Only by week 3, neither of you are exercising. And dieting? Dieting? Why put yourself through the torture, right?

Despite the countless failed resolutions and broken vows, accountability partnerships do work under the right conditions. As someone who’s experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly of accountability partnerships, my goal for today is to share with you what actually works.

If you’re seeking an accountability partner to hold you to God’s word and coach you as you overcome sexual sin, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to hear proven practices for an effective and productive accountability partnership.

Why Accountability?

Accountability is a biblical concept the scriptures encourage us to practice. (James 5:16) We’re called to confess our sins to one another, to pray for each other’s strongholds to be broken, to gently correct each other when we are in sin, and to lift up one another when we walk in repentance. (Galatians 6:1-5)

Not only is accountability endorsed by the Bible, but it also possesses practical benefits as well. Statistically, having an accountability partner is said to increase the odds of achieving your goal to 95%. For some accountability motivates them to succeed because they don’t wish to disappoint their partner. Finally, many find the new insight and encouragement their partners offer give them the push they need to persevere.

Unhelpful Substitutes

Because accountability demands a level of transparency that many women aren’t quite prepared to provide, it’s tempting to substitute real accountability for anonymous confession or detached supervision. Instead of seeking an accountability partner who is active and local in their lives, some women prefer to confess their sin anonymously in Facebook groups or via email. Instead of being subject to a mature Christian or church leadership, some women reach out virtually to people who don’t know them personally and cannot really intervene if necessary. These pathways are rarely helpful because there’s no real way for the confessor to be held accountable.

Accountability is a two-way street. You must be willing to be transparent and your partner must be able to coach you in meeting God’s standard. Avoid these useless substitutes by first committing to the level of openness you’ll need before seeking a partner to hold you accountable.

Choosing An Accountability Partner

So what should you look for in an accountability partner? Begin by making a list of people available in your network or sphere of influence. Then work your way through the suggested criteria below. (Please be sure to engage the Lord in prayer as you do so, asking Him to reveal who’d be the best fit for you.)

Choose a mature Christian.

It’s important that your partner shares your core beliefs concerning God’s design for sexuality and that she is able to provide you with biblical counsel. Preferably, a Christian that has not or no longer shares your sexual struggle would be best. Also, consider whether she consistently reads God’s word and is seeking to honor Christ daily – not just at church.

Choose someone you trust.

Accountability requires a degree of transparency. Make sure the person you confide in is trustworthy and able to keep your discussion confidential. Ask yourself, “Can I speak openly with this person about my situation?”

Choose someone of the same gender.

It’s unwise to discuss sexual matters with someone of the opposite sex. (Let’s not forget that our accountability partners are also humans that wrestle with a sin nature of their own.) If you struggle with same-sex attraction, be careful to choose someone you aren’t attracted to and/or could possibly develop feelings for.

Choose a coach, not a police officer.

Not literally, of course. Within your accountability partnership, you’ll need someone who will gently correct you, but never someone who is just waiting for you to slip up so they can condemn you. Your partner should help you confess and own up to your sin while encouraging you to cling to God’s forgiveness and grace.

(Finally, if you are considering making your spouse your accountability partner, understand that sometimes those too close or involved in a situation aren’t able to give objective advice. Of course, you should involve your spouse as much as you both agree is healthy, but personally I would have at least one person outside of my marriage to hold me accountable.)

3 Tips For A Successful Partnership

Once you’ve approached your potential partner and she agrees to support you, you’ll want to do a few things to ensure your success. Here are a couple tips to make things as smooth as possible.

Set your expectations.

Take an afternoon to grab coffee with your accountability partner to set the expectations for your partnership. Clearly define how you would like your partner to hold you accountable. Ask her what she would need from you in order to best support you. Together, decide whether you’ll simply chat once a week, do a Bible study together, or use an accountability software. Now’s the time to ask when you can contact them if you’re feeling tempted or are in need of prayer or encouragement.

Be transparent.

Alright, you’re probably tired of hearing this, but this is a dead horse that must be beaten. Transparency. Without it, there’s no way for your accountability partner to help you. So please, be ready to share if you’re struggling. That’s why she is there – to support you and help you gain victory over this sin.

Communicate.

If some aspect of your accountability relationship needs to change, communicate that with your partner, especially time-specific or logistical changes. If you know ahead of time you won’t be able to meet on your regular day, call your partner ahead to reschedule your meeting. Respect each others’ time and efforts by responding to communication promptly, even if it’s just to say “Hey, I can’t talk right now, but I’ll call you back.”

Alright, sis. I hope you found these guidelines and tips helpful as you seek an accountability partner. If you’d like to dive deeper into today’s discussion, I highly recommend Covenant Eyes’ Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability download. Perhaps you could even read through this e-book with your partner.

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Ever been in an accountability partnership before? Tell us what you learned from your experience in the comments below.

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