When I got saved, I left behind a $180-a-day heroine and cocaine addiction. My counselor suggested that I attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting every day for 90 days. Not only are you made to learn accountability by consistently going to the meetings, but more than that, you learn accountability by hooking up with a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who had been an addict but experienced victory, that is, an extended period of sobriety.
Have you ever wondered why AA has been around for so long? I researched and found one of the last interviews from co-founder Bob Smith. He made some impressive statements about the Bible:
“In the early days … our stories didn’t amount to anything to speak of. When we started in on Bill D. [Bill Dotson was the Third Participant of the program], we had no Twelve Steps either; we had no traditions. But we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book … . It wasn’t until 1938 that the teachings and efforts and studies that had been going on were crystallized in the form of the Twelve Steps. I didn’t write the Twelve Steps. I had nothing to do with the writing of them … . We already had the basic ideas, though not in terse and tangible form. We got them, as I said, as a result of our study of the Good Book.”
Let me say, the contemporary AA is not what it used to be. Political coercion from activists groups, seduced by the government, removed the name of God from all literature and substituted it with the words “higher power.” However, at Brainerd Baptist Church, we recommend and celebrate Christ-centered recovery.
We can see two reasons for AA’s longevity:
First, the entire plan is built on an accountability group. You are expected to show up for the weekly, bi-weekly, or daily meetings. You are held accountable by friends so that you are never alone on the journey.
Second, every person who works in the program is assigned a qualified sponsor. Each group provides coaching and support through a life-on-life model. The sponsor is there to direct, equip, support, and delegate. Sound familiar? Jesus was the sponsor and the Twelve were in his accountability group. After sending his disciples out on two occasions, Jesus inquired about their missionary endeavors. Each reported on all they had seen and done (c.f. Luke 9–10).
Accountability is the Difference that Makes the Difference :
I was heartbroken a few years ago when I heard a man say to me, “Your book was good, but men won’t read it because men don’t read!” Although I understood his presupposition, I was heartbroken. He was in essence saying, “Men don’t read the Bible either!” I retorted, “Men don’t read if they aren’t expected to read. But if you hold them accountable each week, they will!”
You may not like the hassle of shaving everyday. In addition to the time it takes, there are the dry skin, cuts, bumps, and occasionally blood. But if your job has a policy that states you will be fired for walking in unshaven, you’re shaving, whether you want to or not.
A consistent time of reading the Bible, memorizing Scripture, sharing the Gospel with lost people, and spending time in prayer are all fruits of accountability. The journey of discipleship is often an endless road of twists and turns, scarred by canyons of sin, hardship and pain. We are to “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1). God calls us to encourage one another by praying for one another and confessing sin to one another (cf. James 5:16).
Without accountability, one’s spiritual development is dwarfed in comparison to what it could be.
Sin will derail your spiritual development before you realize the effects of it. Having someone whom you have entrusted with the task of edifying, encouraging, and confronting areas in your life that are out of balance is essential.
A discipleship group is an ideal setting for living out these commands. Take confession of sin for instance. Challenges present themselves on both sides of the spectrum. Larger contexts such as Sunday school or Bible study are intimidating environments for admission of one’s sins. On the other hand, sin is concealed in isolation. Since a discipleship group is less threatening, a believer may be more apt to open up about present struggles.
Dietrich Bonheoffer emphasizes the dangers of isolation: “Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him.”
You’ve heard the commercial: “Friends don’t let friends drink and drive.” I have a new one: “Friends don’t let friends shipwreck their lives because of sin.”
To whom are you accountable? Or whom could you help by sharing the lessons you’ve learned through the hard knocks of life?
Don’t forget to sign up for the Growing Up Challenge at http://www.growingupchallenge.com