The first rule of accountability

“Accountability” is one of those popular words that I hear in the church.

People form accountability groups where they answer questions in regards to lust. People tell friends that they “need to be held accountable” for a certain area of sin in their lives.

Accountability is a good, wise, and Biblical practice. James calls us to accountability: confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16).

But accountability is only as good as a person’s willingness to be held accountable. In a moment of struggle, there can be a renewed commitment to changing your life and calling people to hold you accountable. But what about a few days, a few weeks, a few months later when the same old temptations come creeping back? An initial reaction can be to want to hide, to withdraw, to say “I’m fine” when you’re not fine. All of these make accountability worthless.

It’s good when we hold one another accountable. But more important than someone else’s commitment to holding you accountable is your commitment to actually being held accountable, to being willing to be held accountable when the going gets tough, and a willingness to be vulnerable before you’ve fallen back into an area of struggle.

Accountability must be accountability in practice, not in theory. It’s more impo

Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.