Accountability…help in doing what’s right. Right? Well, kind of. But more. Much, much more.
God is love. 1 John 4:16
When people talk to me about accountability, my mind’s eye goes to a group of people, usually the same gender, who are trying to keep each other accountable regarding their behavior. Outside of group meetings, participants might say something like “I’m not doing that because then I would have to tell my group.”
The shame of having to tell the other participants about transgressions helps keep one from making poor choices. Not everybody has this in mind when they talk about accountability, and plenty of accountability groups don’t operate this way, but many do.
My difficulty with shame/guilt based accountability groups is the emphasis on behavior. In my opinion, the Christian life that is spent “not sinning” is poorly spent, and I’m afraid that describes a lot of my own journey. Instead, I want to live a wild life of love. I desire passion, emotion, and a God honoring adventure filled life more than I want to behave.
Somewhere along the way I got duped into thinking that behaving was what it meant to be a Christian, and I wonder if some accountability groups unintentionally communicate that message. The life I really want scares me and I frequently shy away from it, but I hear it calling.
So, I try to look for some of the following characteristics before joining a group:
- Group members experience grace, mercy, and the hands and feet of Jesus through the other participants. Experiencing love catapults us into loving well, and it doesn’t look much like “not sinning.” Just read the gospels and keep an eye on the one they call Jesus.
- Group members will be encouraged to more; more life, more dreaming, more adventure, more love. Our life experiences, both good and bad, shape us and equip us to love in a way that nobody else can. Participants are encouraged to wonder about their unique calling, and to find and pursue their dreams. Taking risks is encouraged, and making mistakes is expected and embraced.
- The group will regularly wonder what it means to be made in the image of God. Goodness and glory will be celebrated while darkness is mourned. Every effort will be made to live in the truth.
Perhaps you are already participating in this type of group. I hope so, because if you are, there is no way you are keeping it to yourself. Experiencing love has that effect.
The Bible says God is love and you are made in the image of God. Use your imagination and wonder about what that might mean. Here is something to get you started: How do you feel when you are kind to your friends, help people, or forgive someone who has hurt you?