We are created to connect and called to encourage. We see this evidenced in almost every aspect of our lives, especially as women. Seriously, we even go to the restroom together! :)
But for some reason, we seem to ignore this obvious truth when it comes to our spiritual lives. Far too many believers lack the understanding that while our relationship with Christ is most assuredly personal it was never intended to be private. We need the support and encouragement we receive from others for continued growth as believers.
I believe this need is especially evidenced in spending time in the Word. Accountability is vital to success for most of us in this area. Julie’s post on Tuesday shared some great ways to gain that accountability.
WHAT ACCOUNTABILITY PROVIDES
Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 NASB
- Sharpening – We all need people who will challenge us to grow spiritually. Those sharpeners in our lives are the people who say, “Dig deeper!”
- Stretching – Another role that an accountability partner can provide is stretching us. The stretchers in our lives teach us to look at applying what we have read in new ways, pushing us outside our comfort zone.
- Smoothing – Smoothers are the people who gently guide us into a deeper relationship with Christ. Often smoothers are unaware of their influence until they are specifically told.
Sometimes we find one person who meets all three of these but generally there are multiple people who perform these roles … being intentional about finding those who will sharpen, stretch, and smooth us is a vital part of accountability in our spiritual lives.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN ACCOUNTABILITY RELATIONSHIP
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NASB
When seeking someone to join with in an accountability-type relationship there are several characteristics that are important for success. Pray carefully for relationships with people who will:
- Help – Developing a relationship with someone who is farther along in their spiritual walk is a key to successful partnering. Look for someone who already evidences those attributes you seek. For example, if you are wanting to grow in your prayer life, ask someone who is a prayer warrior to guide you. If you want to learn to develop spiritual disciplines, seek out a person who is already practicing them.
- Warm – In addition to someone who can help you learn, you also want to find someone who is encouraging! An accountability partner should be quick to offer words that build up and guidance that is presented in a positive manner.
- Protect – Finally, the best accountability partnerships allow for gentle correction. You want to seek someone who you trust enough to be completely honest with and who loves you and is willing to offer words of caution when you are veering off course.
Our friend Courtney, of Women Living Well, has a great ministry – Good Morning Girls. Courtney explains, “The Good Morning Girls is a title for a group of women who use email to keep each other accountable for their quiet times. For 2 years straight, I have been a part of 5 girls who email each other each weekday morning after we have our quiet time. We say “Good Morning” and then share what we read in our quiet time. Some of us have our quiet time first thing in the morning, while others squeeze it in during children’s naps or at bedtime.”
We know some of you are already involved in a Good Morning Girls group … and we would love to encourage those who are seeking this type of accountability to check out Courtney’s blog and the Good Morning Girls site as well. Courtney says, “Good Morning Girls groups will come to an end August 15th – then from Sept. 1-15 new groups will begin signups on the message board – so women can start thinking about who they’d like to invite to join a group for the fall. Also – there is no deadline – so they can sign up today if they want! We have one group with 68 ladies! It’s their women’s ministry group in their church! And another created a Facebook group with 32 women! So exciting! But usually the groups are between 3 and 11. We have over 100 groups going and over 600 ladies from 34 states!”
We are thankful for the ministry Courtney has through the Good Morning Girls and challenge to get involved in some sort of accountability for your own personal Bible study time.
Do you have a buddy system or accountability partner? How do you seek encouragement from others as you pursue spiritual growth?