This month, we have a guest post from Caroline! She’s a fellow member of The Young Writer’s Workshop, and her article today covers a topic I have come to appreciate very much. I’ll leave you with her!
Have you ever tried to start a new Bible reading plan or spiritual habit and failed?
If you’re like any other human being, you probably have. It’s okay to fail: we can’t be perfect. However, we shouldn’t give up forever or be stuck in this same pattern of trying and failing again and again.
So how do we change things up?
My solution is this: accountability.
Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about. Or maybe you inwardly groaned at that because you don’t believe in accountability. Maybe you don’t think it’s worth it or you’ve asked someone before but it didn’t work out. Today I’d like to prove to you that it is worth it and give you some tips for how to get started.
What is Accountability?
Before we get into all of that, though, I should clarify what accountability is. The definition from Google is “the fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility.” Having an accountability partner means you and the other person hold each other responsible for something. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something faith-related, but that’s what I’ll be addressing specifically in this article.
Accountability also doesn’t have to be a partnership. Sometimes, just being in a group or having a responsibility to do something, and knowing that if you don’t do that thing you’ll let others down, can keep you accountable as well.
So why should you pursue accountability?
1. Someone Has Your Back
Wouldn’t it be great if you had someone to remind you to do something and gave you motivation to do it?
I don’t mean phone notifications. Let’s be honest, those aren’t always the most helpful. Some days you can get a notification and have no follow through, and there’s no one to stop you.
A friend reminding you that you need to do your Bible reading is a lot more powerful than a phone notification or alarm. It also means that in those days where you don’t feel like doing anything, that friend can help you through that weakness and force you to do something in a kind and encouraging way.
2. You Form Closer Relationships
Accountability does require a level of trust in the person to actually follow through, but when it works, it’s beautiful.
Relationships that seemed distant before suddenly have frequent check-ins and can spark conversations outside of what you’re keeping each other accountable for. Having an actual human being for accountability has the potential to build stronger friendships, especially when both sides are benefiting.
How Accountability Has Helped Me
Accountability has helped and still is helping me in a variety of different ways. For example, once a week I read a chapter of John for a Bible study with a couple of my friends. Knowing that I have that Bible study forces me to read the chapter ahead of time because I know that I won’t be able to participate in the discussion if I don’t read it.
Another example is my daily Bible reading. I do my Bible reading with my mom, so we can ask each other, “What did you think about this reading?” Or “How far along are you in this book?” This way we’re still moving forward, pushing each other on, and can discuss it.
Who Do You Ask For Accountability?
Now that you know why accountability is important and how it can be helpful, who do you ask for accountability? Here are some tips.
- Ask a close friend or family member to do it with you.
If you want to tackle a Bible reading plan or a new spiritual habit, it may be wise to seek a close friend or family member to do it with you. Like I mentioned earlier with my mom and I doing reading together– you can both encourage each other and discuss together!
2. Set up a Bible study
Maybe you have a few friends who want to study a book of the Bible together. Get together with them, either in a call or in person, and decide on when you want to meet to discuss the book and how much reading will be expected for each meeting. That way you’re all on the same page and you have that commitment to do the reading.
3. Ask a friend to simply message you
Maybe you don’t have friends who can commit to a Bible reading plan or study right now. That’s okay! Instead, consider asking them to keep you accountable in messaging you every day with something like, “Did you do your Bible reading today?” That way they can still support you, even if it’s not the same support you get as if they were doing it with you. With this, it may be nice if you ask them what you can do for them in return, since it’s more one-sided.
How Do You Keep Someone Accountable?
Maybe you’ve been asked to keep someone accountable or you’re wondering what that relationship looks like. Here are three important characteristics to keep in mind as you move forward.
Nobody is perfect. Sometimes your accountability partner may not follow up with you, or you’ll miss a day in the reading. That’s okay. It’s going to happen. We’re all human, and we all need to give grace to each other and be flexible. So when something comes up or you or your partner fails one day to follow up, don’t be afraid to give the other person grace and get back up again.
As much as you should be flexible and filled with grace, you still have to be reliable. Consistent check-ins are important if you want to keep the relationship alive, so try to keep at it as much as possible.
There are going to be days when you or your partner feel discouraged or demotivated. It’s important that you encourage each other and are kind and uplifting. Rebuking or scolding your partner is not going to help them keep up, and will most likely hurt the friendship. Instead, tell them that it’s alright and that they can try again next time.
We’ve covered a lot in this article, so here’s a summary:
- Accountability can be extremely helpful in keeping up with your Bible reading and spiritual habits. Accountability is your second line of defense when you fail to follow through, and helps build stronger relationships with the one who keeps you accountable.
- You can really ask anybody to keep you accountable, but it’d be best to ask someone you trust like a close family member or friend.
- Finally, it’s important to remember to be flexible, reliable, and kind in your accountability relationships.
I hope this article has been helpful and encouraged you to try out accountability!
Remember these final words before you go: all have sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23), and relationships can be tough. However, Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), and thus we love because he first loved us (1 John 4:10-11). It might be hard, awkward, and have rough patches, but know that no matter what, nothing can separate you or your accountability partner from the love of God.
Caroline is a young writer that seeks to glorify God with her words. She primarily writes fiction, but loves to discuss the Bible with fellow Christians, or even those who aren’t Christians yet! You can find her on her blog, Live to the Lord, where she writes Christian-living content.