If the last blog post titled “Should I Speak Up?” struck your interest then this one continues with the how part.
What makes this form of relationship unique is that it’s based in the agape love that is exampled in the Bible. Love that cares for another and has that person's best interest in mind is the most difficult kind of love…...because it doesn’t always feel warm & fuzzy.
The crux of this type of relationship is twofold: transparency and trust. Go throw those words around at a gathering and you’ll either get snickered at or clear the room; but these are not for the faint of heart.
Most of us desiring some level of accountability have gotten here by poor choices, usually one’s with significant consequences. If that sounds familiar, there is a better way.
For men, find yourself some other guys who desire the same for their lives. Accountability is nice sounding buzzword but it rarely works without motivation.
Start small: although a small group of guys is desirable one other guy is fine. The reason we start with a group is that most will drop out; believe me, this ain’t easy.
When it comes to transparency starting small here is also essential.
Commit to calling one another daily, or meeting together once a week, etc. From there you can build a relationship based upon these simple commitments and grow from there. Here is also where we draw the line on communication: text messages, email or any other form of social media communication DOES NOT WORK. People hide behind indirect communication; it’s just too easy to paint an unrealistic picture of oneself so make this agreement upfront.
Next comes Trust, with it’s one unbreakable bond: Trust has to be grounded in truth.
Here’s an example:
One of my strongest accountability groups was one I had while doing prison ministry. It took several years but I developed deep relationships based on transparency and trust. Anyone who’s been around the prison system knows that guys don’t trust and they sure as hell aren’t going to be transparent, so how did we do it? We started with the Truth of God’s word.
Practically every inmate I met told me how he got burned by someone he once trusted, so the chain gang mentality of “partners in crime” and “don’t snitch on your buddy” only lasts to the point where saving one’s hide is more important than any macho vow one made. This truth helps open the door to The Truth. We can’t trust each other unless we’re going to use the same standards; those in scripture. So secrets, lies, cheating and scams are all out.
This took a long time to establish but we did so in small increments. The way I earned trust from these guys is by showing up every week, week after week, until the weeks became months and the months became years. The other way I earned trust was by being genuine. Cons can spot cons a mile away; so who would I be fooling? This same principle works out here in the world.
If you want your accountability group to be effective then be the first to initiate transparency. We’ll talk about this more in the next post…..