3 Keys to Effective Accountability

Accountability is defined as the state of being accountable, liable, or answerable. Over the years I’ve tried to be accountable to other men in my life. I have certain standards, goals and principles that I strive for, and I use accountability to help guide my life in those directions.

I realize that I’m tempted as much, if not more at times, as everyone in my church. Sometimes I feel Satan gives pastors “extra” attention. I’m sure everyone feels that way at times. Accountability is one way I attempt to guard my heart. I highly recommend it. Accountability is not a fool proof method to keep a person (or me) from a major moral failure. I know (and you know) people who had plenty of accountability, but still had a catastrophic personal failure. Ultimately the quality of a person’s heart and walk with Christ will protect him or her. I believe, however, if it is done well, it can certainly help limit a person from many downward spirals.

I’ve done accountability in a number of ways. I’ve met with a few guys weekly. I’ve met with one guy weekly or bi-weekly. I’ve met with guys long distance. (I don’t recommend this method as the best option. I think there is value in face-to-face encounters, but it’s better than doing nothing.)

I’ve learned there are three keys to effective accountability:

Consistency – You have to meet “regularly”. That doesn’t have to be weekly, but it shouldn’t be annually. I think monthly would be about as far as I would stretch an accountability relationship. You need to meet frequently enough that you begin to recognize when there could be a problem in each other’s life. That requires a constant, growing relationship.

Honesty – There is no true accountability until people are willing to be transparent with each other. You have to be vulnerable with each other and trust each other enough to share what’s really going on in your heart and life.  That type relationship doesn’t develop quickly and, frankly, doesn’t happen every time you try. I’ve had relationships, which were initiated to be accountable relationships, that never fully formed the closeness needed for true honesty to exist.

Intentionality – If you want to be in an accountable relationship, you must be intentional. You will have to seek out someone. You’ll have to build a relationship. You’ll have to open your heart. You’ll have to take a risk of trust. You’ll have to follow through on your commitment to meet together. You’ll have to discipline your time. Nothing happens of any great value without intentionality.

I’m not sure you can do accountability without either of these three.

What about you? Have you ever been in what you would consider an accountable relationship?

Describe how it worked for you.

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • […] Edmonson writes in his post “3 Keys to Effective Accountability” that accountability works when there is consistency, honesty, and intentionality. You have […]

  • ronedmondson says:

    Thank you for sharing your story.
    Twitter: Ronedmondson

  • Kirra says:

    I’ve never been satisfied with accountability groups, mostly because the ones I’ve been in have been created by outside forces rather than come into with mutual decision and trust.

  • Kari Scare says:

    Recently wrote about this topic on my blog because I have been receiving tremendous value from a current accountability relationship that I have. Your points are terrific and correlate well with what I believe about accountability. Here's the link if anyone is interested: http://www.struggletovictory.com/how-to-be-accoun….
    Twitter: KariScare

  • Melissa says:

    I like this post Ron. The one relationship that I had on accountability was a strong one for many years, but outside obstacles eroded it. I think we said the things each of us wanted to hear at difficult times during each of our lives, but not necessarily the needed things that should have been said.

    How does one search out for a new accountability relationship?

    • ronedmondson says:

      You have to be intentional there too. I look for:1. Who is already in my life I trust or could develop that type relationship with?2. Who do I admire from the distance, who seems headed in the same direction, who I suspect would appreciate the same kind of relationship?Then I ask, take a risk, and build from there.
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

      • Melissa says:

        Thanks Ron, key information. I will work on that, but at this point I'm very guarded with accountability relationships.

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