“Talk about a time when you experienced God's presence.”
At a retreat, council members took turns telling stories. Some stories brought tears; others evoked laughter. Afterward, a woman said: "Thank you. I needed this. I rarely talk about how God works in my life with people at church."
The best way to begin practicing accountability is to work with an accountability partner. Partnership is nothing new. In Paul's letters to the early Christians he spoke about "sharing in the gospel" (Philippians 1:5) — a task he saw as a partnership.
One way to do this is to work with a Christian life coach. I became a coach because I craved deep, fierce conversations with people of faith. I wanted to talk about what God calls us to be and do in this world. (See www.christiancoachesnetwork.com and www.liferhymecoaching.com.)
Here are ways that you and a partner can help each other lead lives that reflect God's amazing grace.
1. Select a guide for your conversation. A practical book about accountability, such as the ones I wrote with my husband, Harold Eppley, Our Lives Are Not Our Own: Saying "Yes" to God (www.augsburgfortress.org) and The Spiritual Leader's Guide to Self-Care (www.Alban.org), can provide a structure for your conversation.
2. Agree on the duration and frequency of your meetings. If you decide to work with a coach, know that many require a three-month initial commitment. Meeting every other week provides enough time to work on integrating ways of being accountable into your daily life.
3. Pray for and with each other. Knowing that you have a partner praying for you will give you courage and hope.
4. Forgive one another. No one is perfect. Your partner can help you remember that God's forgiveness turns your mistakes into opportunities for growth.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers