Promise Keepers, a Christian Men’s Movement, made a really big emphasis on accountability as one of the key ingredients in a man’s life to get right and keep him straight. The concept was basically saying, if you have other guys in your life who are “holding you accountable” you will be able to overcome your battles and live a more productive Christian life. I never really believed that. What I saw more was guys saying they are “holding each other accountable” but one of two things happened. 1). They just started lying to each other. 2). They were honest but it ended up simply becoming a time where they confessed to each other they messed up again that week or month. Accountability does not provide the power to change your life!!
So, as pendulum swings go, I’ve seen both extremes. Christian men who think accountability is the lucky charm that will finally help them stop looking at porn, getting drunk or whatever it is that they do. On the other extreme are guys like me. I’ve tried accountability relationships, they did nothing for me and so I live my life before the Lord and am pretty vulnerable with a bunch of people but don’t have any “accountability” relationships.
So, this morning I’m on my run, second day using my handy RunKeeper App on my iPhone. The first day I used it I realized I have been dropping off my pace running with no watch. RunKeeper sends my run to Facebook when I complete it. I wanted to have my time be more respectable today. Several times during my run today, I wanted to slow down or even walk but my RunKeeper kept telling me my pace per mile and I knew it was going to post my run when I finished. So, rather than giving in to myself I pushed on. It was a really good workout and I shaved about 20 seconds a mile off my pace from Monday.
When I got back, it hit me “Accountability”can’t fix anyone but if you 1). Are very willing to do what it takes to “train yourself spiritually” 2). If you aren’t looking to anything outside yourself to fix what’s broken inside but 3). You find yourself going easy on yourself then maybe a “middle of the pendulum swing accountability” could be useful.
Nobody gets me out of bed in the morning to run. Nobody tells me how fast I should go. Nobody else is responsible for my fitness goals. But since I choose to run and I see I can be soft on myself, then I may choose to pull in someone or some tool to push me some when I feel like giving up. It is more of a coach than what we generally think of as accountability.
When you set your heart on defeating a bad habit, and you really want it, as long as you don’t think someone else is going to be able to do it for you, having a trusted friend to cheer you on and challenge you in the weak spots can be a real aid to achieving your dreams.
So, don’t give accountability more power than it has, but don’t totally discount its effectiveness when used properly.