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Powerful Partnership: Do’s and Don’ts

The term “Accountability Partner” can carry a high cringe factor.  Yes, they are meant for good – offering space to confess to one another, to pray with one another, to hope for the best for each other.

But, if not handled well, Accountability Partners can cause more harm than good.

The enemy would love nothing more than for you and your partner to focus on your behavior, smother you in shame and isolate you.

Brothers and sisters, moving towards sexual wholeness begs for more than behavior management.

Follow along as we work through some tips on how not to have an effective partnership. And then, get your pen and paper ready for 5 tips to a powerful partnership.

Highlights: 

Making Accountability Partnerships Work:

1. Frame up thinking with these questions: What do you want to do? What are you looking for? What do you desire?

2. Focus on the positive so you can begin to see your progress.

3. Celebrate, discuss, spend time on BOTH the good and the bad.

4. Dive into the deep matters: What were you feeling? What was happening under the surface? What were you really looking for? Were you lonely? Feeling ashamed? 

5. Invite the Cross of Jesus into the center of your journey.

If you want to learn more, check out Josh’s latest musing on this topic at, When Advice and Accountability Don’t Mix

Click for Full Podcast Transcription

Good day, everybody. I hope that you were doing well. I hope that you are encouraged and experiencing some hope, and experiencing, especially the nearness of Christ, as you as you walk with Him. And if you’re not, I pray that something that we talked about today, we’ll, we’ll stir you and move you. You know, honestly, just as an aside, I’m not a big fan of talking about moving closer to Christ. Because He is present with us everywhere we are, I’m more more prone to want to think about and talk about it in the sense of I hope that something you hear today helps to open you more to the reality of Christ’s presence with you his loving, gracious, empowering presence with you, that he is present with you bringing all his wisdom, all his mercy, all his sacrifice, all his power. All That Is that all that is at his disposal he is bringing to you. And I hope there’s something in this podcast that will help to open you to His presence. And LD brings you today. So Lord, I pray even before I begin talking that that would be the case. I don’t I don’t I don’t know what’s going on for each person listening today. But I just I, I need this. And I know they need it, Lord, whether they are feeling intimate and close with you or they’re feeling far from you, or they just hadn’t even thought about it today. I pray that something in this would I pray that you would be in this and that we would listen and think through these things with you today. I pray these things in Jesus name. So brothers and sisters, here’s what I want to talk about today. I want to offer you some tips, some advice on how to make your accountability relationships, not work. I want to give you some advice on how to make them even do the opposite of what you’re hoping they’ll do. And I would approach it that way. Because the first several years that I was in quote unquote, accountability relationships, or I was walking with a friend and we were quote unquote, holding each other accountable. Looking back, I recognize no one taught us what that meant. No one explained to us what we were supposed to be doing, we had just kind of a default idea that what we’re supposed to be doing is telling each other how we’re doing like meeting once a week or so confessing each other the bad things that we’ve done, praying for each other. And then going on through the next week and hoping we did better and overtime, hoping that we would grow. And we had some ideas about why we thought that would work the way it would work. And in truth, it wasn’t all bad. I grew closer to this friend, I grew more comfortable confessing my sin. I think there’s something in that that helped me to experience God’s grace. But in a lot of ways, what we were doing was actually contributing to the problem. And I’ve seen this as I’ve walked with men and women over the years, I’ve seen that I’m not alone in that a lot of us pursue trying to overcome unwanted sexual behaviors or whatever your unwanted behaviors are. With through accountability, we try to use accountability to move us away from those behaviors. And what we do actually ends up contributing to the underlying problems. And so I want to offer you, I want to expose those today by offering you some tips on how to move in the opposite direction that you want to move in. If you’re struggling for sexual integrity, these tips will help you to not achieve that. Okay. And then I’m going to kind of reverse it and talk about what you can do that would be more helpful. So you ready here they are, here they are. And I think you’ll understand more as we go. First of all, if you want your accountability relationships, and I’m not even sure I like that word, but if you want your accountability relationships, not to work, the first thing you need to do in those relationships is make sure that you give lots of advice to each other, okay? Give lots of advice to each other. One word that you should make sure you always use is the word should, or the word shouldn’t make sure that you tell the other person what they should be doing or what they shouldn’t be doing. Okay, that’s so important. If you want your accountability relationships not to work, it helps you to it helps the other person to feel judged, it helps them to feel not understood. It really helps to set up a new kind of law for them, like this is what you should be doing. And truth is they probably already know what they should be doing. So by you reminding them what they should or shouldn’t be doing. Just helps to, to kind of push their head down and help them to feel like you know, they deserve to be told this again because they’re doing so horribly. It’s a good approach to things. One person put it this way you’re it’s a it’s a way to should all over yourself. Alright, so, so make sure that you offer should and shouldn’t say to the person In, that you’re trying to hold accountable accountability to. Second thing you want to do is you want to focus on the negative, make sure whenever you talk to this other person about what you’re doing, or what they’re doing focus on the negative. If there’s any glimmer of improvement, any progress at all, ignore that. Don’t pay attention to that. Because if somebody had any fall or a slip or temptation that week, you want to focus on that, that’s where you want to really aim. The you know, put the crosshairs and, and expose that. So say somebody went through the entire week. And they, you know, they were praying through the week, they were staying in touch with with other people. And they were really seeking to do better. But they didn’t, and the end of the week, they ended up slipping, having a slip, make sure you focus on that slip, pay attention to that, take your time there, what that’s going to do is it’s going to, it’s going to help convince them that what matters most to you is not their progress, but their failure. And if they want your attention, it’s it’s they should fail. Not only that, but you also might help convince them, that God is only focused on their failure. Alright, third thing that you want to do, and this is connected to the last one, use the reverse silent treatment, use the reverse silent treatment. So for example, I know a lot of people who are struggling unwanted sexual behavior, use something like covenant eyes, where they get reports about the what the person has been viewing online. So if you’re in a situation like that, or something similar to that, and you get a report, and there’s, there’s, you know, nothing noteworthy to say as far as you know, the person’s there’s nothing that’s, that’s no flags about the person looking at pornography or looking at something that’s inappropriate or doing something inappropriate online. And if there’s nothing inappropriate, that that’s coming out, then then don’t talk to him, you know, don’t reach out to them. But if you get a covenant eyes report or an accountability report, and you hear that, it’s that they’ve been stumbling, or it looks even something, make sure you reach out to them, make sure you call them at that point, what that’ll help to do is it’ll help to convince them that that they see like last time, what you care about most is their failure, not their success. It’ll also help to, to invite them if they want your attention, if they want to receive a call from you, if they want your fellowship and your friendship, they want you to draw near them, it’s only going to happen when they’re doing really horribly, you want to make sure they don’t think you’re going to like them or spend time with them if they’re doing well. Alright, so focus on the negative and ignore the deeper matters, I’m sorry, and use the reverse silent treatment. The next one, the next tip, if you want to really make your accountability not work is to ignore the deeper matters. And what I mean by deeper matters. Well, there there are reasons we do the things we do, nobody’s falling to their unwanted behaviors over and over again, just because they they like them, and they don’t want to change. They’re falling to those things. Because there’s stuff happening under the surface. You know, they’re they’re feeling things, they’re believing faulty things, they’ve got past wounds that are feeding into these, these, these matters. Ignore all that stuff. Only focus on the behaviors only focus on whether or not they fell into their unwanted behavior, or they didn’t fall into that one behavior. Just focus on the surface. Make sure you’re just all about behavior management. If you do that, it’ll it’ll guarantee you that you won’t get any better. Okay? Or if you do get better, it only be for a time. Okay, so, so even if somebody seems to be getting better, and you think, oh, focusing on only the surface matters, that doesn’t seem to be working, No, trust me, it’ll work. Just keep focusing on the surface matters. And over the long haul, you won’t get better. Alright, last tip. Last tip, if you don’t want to get better, make sure you leave the cross of Jesus out of it. Don’t focus on the cross of Jesus. Whatever you do, don’t bring the cross of Jesus into the equation. Because the cross of Jesus exposes how much God loves us. It reveals the the, the length and the depths that he will go to, to rescue us from our sin. It reveals His forgiveness and His mercy. It reveals His grace, it reveals how how deep and far and wide and high is Love is focusing on the cross also also brings us face to face with our Savior and brings us into proximity with him and we and if you don’t want to get better, you don’t want to be near Jesus. So keep the cross of Jesus out of it. All right. You follow those tips that advice you guys, I guarantee you your accountability, relationships won’t work, and you’ll continue to struggle. Now, man, I cringed that whole thing. I don’t know if you’re cringing, but I was cringing. But I hope as I went through those that you could also sense some of why those are so destructive. And you could even send some of the better way forward. And so let me just take a few minutes to walk back through those and give you a picture and even some scripture examples of why we want to do it differently than that. So the first tip I gave you was to give lots of advice, make sure that you should, and shouldn’t all over each other. Instead of that, instead of that, we want to frame up our thinking not on what you should have done in the past, or what you should do in the future. But what do you want to do? So Jesus asked this question a few times, at least a few times in the gospels, someone would come to him with a need. And you would ask them, What do you want? What do you want? What are you looking for? What do you desire? One of the reasons this is so helpful and accountability relationships is because it, it reframes the impetus for change is because I want to change. It’s not because you’re telling me what I should or shouldn’t do. You’re not the parent or the teacher or the police officer or the judge, pointing down at me, telling me how to get it right. You are instead or an encourager inviting eliciting out of me drawing out of me what my truest desires are? Why am I showing up to report to you week after week, how I’m doing? Because I want to grow? I want to grow. So the invitation is not, what should you do? The temptation is, what can you do? What could you do? And most importantly, what do you want to do? Now, obviously, we have wants that go in different directions. Part of us wants to sin, but part of us wants righteousness. So we want to talk to that part of us that wants righteousness that desires righteousness. Because that’s the part of us where that’s, that’s the Holy Spirit in us. That’s the renewed part of us. And we want to talk to that part of us. So we validate, listen to yourself, you have a new desire. And if you ever doubting that you have desire to change, just look at the fact that you’re showing up. I remember when I was talking to my groups, one of the my small group leader, leaders would always just applaud us, you guys are showing up, that says something about what you really want. Alright, so focus on what you want, what your desire is for righteousness. The second tip instead of focusing on the negative focus on the positive, yes, we’ve got to address the negative yes, we’ve got to confess the truth about the sins that we’ve done. And the and the unwise choices we’ve made sure we don’t want to ignore those things. We want to focus on the positive and this is a correlate to the last thing that I mentioned. When we focus on the positive part of what it begins to do for us is it begins to reframe that we are making progress, I think here of Jesus parable of the wheat and the weeds. When the the servants in the master came in and reported the weeds growing in his garden, that the enemy had planted weeds in his field, that the the landowners focus, he wasn’t ignorant about weeds, he didn’t ignore the problem. But he refused to focus on them because he wanted the wheat to grow. His focus is on the wheat. So his servants were saying like, Hey, should we should we pull out the weeds? And he’s like, no, no, don’t pull the weeds. Because we want to make sure the wheat grows, if you pull out the weeds, you’re gonna uproot some of the wheat to focus on the positive focus on what Jesus is already doing. Romans eight, Paul talks about the first fruits of the Spirit, focus on this first fruits, focus on this first fruits, nurture those things, this is gonna be so helpful for you in your in your countability relationships. The third thing I said is to is to use the reverse silent treatment, this one’s so obvious. Don’t just call out to each other when you’re doing poorly. If you get a good covenant eyes report or you hear a good report, make sure that you celebrate those things. call those things out. If you’re sitting with your accountability partner, and they’re reporting about, you know, three, three good things they did that week. And then three areas they fell that week, make sure that you don’t just get silent about the good things are about the don’t get Don’t be silent about the good things, call those out. If you get an accountability report, and there’s quote unquote, nothing to report. Well, guess what? That’s something to report. You’ve been doing really great for the last three days. Let’s celebrate that. Call them up and say, Listen, I’ve noticed these accountability reports are coming out clean, you’re doing great. I just want to call it you know, I care about you, how you doing and can we connect? We need How can I pray for you? So it’s not just to focus on the negative. And it’s not just we’re not just bringing it up when when there’s something bad report, for thing. I said to ignore the deeper matters, obviously, don’t ignore those deeper matters. So what are those deeper matters? We’ll do other podcasts on that. But the deeper matters include like, what were you feeling when you were tempted? What was going on for you under the surface? What you were you really looking for? You weren’t looking for porn, you are looking for a sexual hookup, you’re looking for something real? Those things didn’t satisfy you. So what were you really looking for that? The real satisfaction that your heart was after? Were you lonely and looking for, for love and companionship? Were you feeling bad about yourself? And using this as a way to beat yourself up further? What was really going on for you under the surface? These are deep waters, men and women. These are deep waters, but they’re important waters. The enemy would have us ignore our hearts and just focus on behavior. And the reason he wants us to do that is because as scripture says, the heart is the wellspring of life. And that’s where life flows flows from Dallas Willard says that God is attentive to the slightest move of the heart toward him. God is paying attention our hearts, they matter to him. So we should too, we should pay attention them too. That’s one should you should do, by the way, focus on your hearts, folks in the deeper matters. Fifth thing, I said, leave the cross out of leave the cross of Jesus out of it, obviously, do not leave the cross of Jesus out of it. If we can get better without the cross of Jesus, if there was another way for salvation to be rescued from our sin rescued from our negative behavior, don’t you think Jesus would have taken it? Jesus went to the cross because we need His cross. Christianity is not Christianity, without the cross and resurrection of Jesus. And so if this is your faith, if you truly believe that you, you need a Savior, and that Jesus is it, then bring Jesus into this area. Now some of you would say, Look, I’ve prayed and prayed for years, and I just haven’t seen Jesus make a difference in this area of my life. I’d say that the problem there, then is not that you’ve brought Jesus into it. But that Jesus wants to come into other parts of this journey with you maybe some of the things I’ve already talked about, maybe some of those deeper, deeper matters. Maybe he wants you to learn to hear his voice celebrating and cheering you on and not just pointing the finger at the bad things. invite Jesus into the cross of Jesus reveals God’s mercy for you. The cross of Jesus reveals where where you belonged, but the Jesus went for you, so that you wouldn’t have to. And by the way, just one side note about the cross. The certainly the cross is is where our sins go. Jesus bore our sins on the cross. But it’s not just about it is about Jesus cancelling the debt that we owed. But it’s not just that this is not just a kind of paper transaction. Jesus actually did something on the cross that radically changes everything. His Cross and Resurrection actually change things. And so when I say folks in the cross, I don’t just mean mentally, I do mean mentally, but not just mentally. I also mean, we need to spend time at the cross, spend time at the empty tomb, encounter the crucified and resurrected Jesus. This is a relational thing. So not focusing on the cross means we’re pulling ourselves out of relationship with the crucified and resurrected Jesus. We actually want to pursue the crucified and resurrected Jesus. And we want to bring all these parts of ourselves to Him, the deeper waters in our hearts, our failures, our successes, our negative self talk, our positive self talk, our little bit of growth, our big backslides, we want to, we want to relate with him around all those things, not just kind of sending him a letter, not just a paper trail, we want to draw into him, press into him encounter him in these places, and our accountability that relationships can be a place where we learn to do that, because we’re face to face with someone else who is in Christ. And you can who can be that that hands and feet of Jesus with us and you can pray with faith where our faith is faltering. Alright, I’m 18 minutes in. I hope this has been rich and meaningful to you. Jesus, we need you. We need you. We need you. Or teach us not just to be quote unquote, accountability partners, but teach us to be true. Christian, brothers and sisters, moving into an abiding in Christ with one another. We pray these things for our sake, pray for the sake of our loved ones. And then we pray for Your glory in the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Amen.

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