This is the first of a 2 part post on accountability. This is a word that can conjure up different emotions. Some people are scared of it; they think that another person is going to be prying into their lives and might not like what they find. Some people think it’s great; why wouldn’t you want someone walking alongside you as you live this Christian life? Others like the theory of it but not the practice. Lots of people visit Niddrie for a few weeks and often during their visit they say ‘I wish I had this sort of community and accountability at home.’ However, often the same people, having come back to stay, are saying after a few months, ‘Why can’t people just leave me alone – I don’t wanna have to talk about heart issues anymore!’‘Why can't people just leave me alone – I don't wanna have to talk about heart issues anymore!’ #accountability #womensministry Click To Tweet
If you have been involved in any sort of accountability relationships I’m sure you’ve encountered these attitudes, or you’ve actually had them yourself. So why do we bother with it? Why bother with the hassle of regularly meeting someone? Why should people tell you their deepest darkest secrets? Why bother when the majority of the time people can’t even turn up, come prepared or actually listen to what you have to say? After all, all Christians have the Holy Spirit living in them and they have a Bible, so isn’t that enough? And isn’t our relationship with God a private thing?
I’m hoping that by the end of this series you will know the answer to these questions and will have a greater understanding of the importance of accountability. I thought the best way to break it down was to ask some simple questions: Why should we have accountability? What does an accountability relationship look like?
Why should we have accountability?
If you look in your Bible’s concordance you’ll not find the word accountability. But you will find principles and examples of discipling relationships within Scripture. I guess the most obvious place to start is with Jesus Himself. He chose twelve disciples who were to follow Him around during His earthly ministry. They ate together, travelled together, slept together and were taught by the Lord (John 12:16; Mark 3:7,20 & Mark 6:1,30-32). Jesus was intentional with these men; He invested time, energy and effort into them. I’m sure they weren’t the easiest bunch of guys to love – they squabbled among themselves, tried to be Jesus’ bestie, and they were slow in understanding what He was teaching them. One of them was super hot-headed, one of them betrayed Him for a bit of cash, one of them doubted He was who He said He was. I wouldn’t have been as patient with them as Christ was! Yet because He loved them He continued to do life with them. What an example to us, who often want to throw in the towel after the first time we’ve been bumped.
Or think about the apostle Paul. He’s famous for his writings, his missionary journeys and planting churches. But he also had guys in his life that he invested in. Think about Timothy and Titus. At the beginning of the letters to these men, Paul calls them ‘my true son’ and ‘my dear son’. This shows that he had a genuine love and concern for these young men; he was their spiritual father (Philippians 2:22). Paul spent time with both of these men, teaching them the gospel and modeling godly living to them, in order that they could be sent out to do the same in different places. Ultimately this should be our aim in our accountability relationships: we should desire to see people grow and then for them to have that same relationship with someone else. There should be a ripple effect.
There are also lots of verses that talk about ‘one anothering’ dotted throughout Paul’s writings. There are verses that tell us to be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10), love one another (Romans 13:8; 1 Peter 1:22, 3:8; 1 John 3:11, 3:23, 4:7,11&12), live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16), instruct one another (Romans 15:14), encourage one another (2 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11; and Hebrews 3:13), spur one another on (Hebrews 10:24), admonish one another (Colossians 3:16) and confess sin to one another (James 5:16).
But for the purposes of today I thought we should concentrate on Titus 2:1-11. Pause and read this.
Now take a minute to think about one or two Christians that have been influential in your life, people that you actually know. Hopefully, you’ve all thought of at least one person. The reason for doing this is to illustrate that the Christian life is a community affair. No one person has been responsible for helping you or me grow. We should all be able to stand up and speak about those who have been influential in our Christian walk. If that is not the case then you can be almost certain that you aren’t growing as a believer past your own personal spirituality and opinions. Sooner or later we are going to get into trouble if think we can live this life on our own. We either harden our hearts or we wander off into theological heresies from every dodgy blog and newfangled teaching that pops up. Whatever we think about our local church, we need one another. That is the bottom line. We need people to challenge us and urge us on. We need people to pick us up. This is what Titus is all about: Paul warning a young pastor to protect his people from false teachers seeking to do damage to the flock.Sooner or later we are going to get into trouble if think we can live this life on our own... Whatever we think about our local church, we need one another. (Miriam McConnell) #accountability #womensministry Click To Tweet
Look back to 1:11. ‘They must be silenced because they are ruining whole households by their teaching.’ Look at 1:13. ‘Rebuke them sharply. Bring them back into line with sound teaching.’ Titus 1 ends with this list of the sins of false teachers. We know them not only by their teaching but also by the fruit of their lives. And so as we enter chapter 2 we see Paul warning Titus in the opening lines by saying ‘You, however, are to be different.’
How is he to be different, and how are we to be different as we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of our Lord Jesus? You and Titus must listen to verses 1-11 as we wait for 2:13 (read this now) to become a reality in our lives. So let’s pull out a few principles from these verses. V1: the key words here are ‘sound doctrine’. This literally translates as ‘healthy teaching’. If we want to grow physically we have to watch what we eat and drink. We can’t just eat junk food and not expect any consequences. The same is true for our souls. If we don’t watch what we put in and digest, that will have an effect on us spiritually. If we only listen to junk and read junk then the end result will be junk. Paul wants Titus to ‘speak proper things’. Healthy doctrine must be the basis for all true discipleship in the body of Christ.
This is just as applicable to women as it is to men. Often women think they don’t need to worry about doctrine because that is for the men to sort out. We women just need to love and care for people. But actually, that is total rubbish. We’re not loving or caring well for people if we aren’t teaching them solid biblical doctrine. Paul here isn’t just talking about the teaching up the front of the church, he is talking about everyday speech. He’s talking about the normal scenarios Titus finds himself in as a young pastor and we find ourselves in as we engage with other women.
Titus is encouraged to speak into people’s lives daily with healthy teaching. So he should study doctrine, not just for the sake of knowledge but also for the sake of discipleship. After all, if our reading and our knowledge is not being put to practical use, what good is it? That’s when knowledge begins to puff up. And if we avoid learning and studying the Bible and some of its difficult doctrines, then what use are we? That too is a serious danger. If we don’t have a healthy approach to doctrine then we won’t be able to teach anybody anything useful. Notice that in v7 Paul challenges Titus that doctrine is not only to be learned and taught but it is also to be modeled.If our reading and our knowledge is not being put to practical use, what good is it? (Miriam McConnell) #accountability #womensministry Click To Tweet
So that’s the ‘why’. In Part 2 we’ll look at the ‘how’: what an accountability relationship should look like, and some tips for helping it run smoothly.