The word “Accountability” brings some interesting responses. Some have been abused by a process of accountability. Some feel burdened by the process.
And some feel there is no better way to follow through on things we know will help us develop in our spiritual walk. I need someone who will speak love and truth in my life… who will encourage and challenge me to persevere in the tough times. As Scripture says:
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
(Prov 27:17 NLT)
I’ve heard a lot of “Accountability questions,” over the years. But last week, I heard the best accountability question… ever!
The “Problem” With Most Questions
Perhaps you’ve heard these kinds of accountability questions:
- How did you do on your prayer time (or Bible reading, or quiet time)?
- When were you farthest from Christ last week?
- How is your tank? (i.e., is it full… see “Dead Leader Running“)
Now, none of these questions are bad questions, but look at them again through the lens of time: they’re all past or present tense questions.
Past tense questions highlight my sense of guilt. No… I didn’t pray like I should have. No… I didn’t read my daily reading plan like I told you I would.
But what if I didn’t accomplish these goals because a piece of Scripture really came alive for me and I contemplated that one verse for a whole week? Is that bad? Yet I still feel guilty when those past tense questions emerge.
How about that “tank?” If you ask me how full my tank is after I’ve had a rotten night of sleep, I’ll probably tell you it’s empty. But is that helpful to spiritual formation? (Sure, a trend of no sleep might highlight a spiritual issue, but I’m convinced there’s a better way to address that).
Past tense questions are good only if I can learn the lesson and apply it forward. Present tense questions are just a snap shot of time; they aren’t necessarily helpful in predicting trends and allowing for corrections in a timely manner (imagine posing for a photo just before tumbling off a cliff… you’re looking good in the snapshot, but don’t you wish someone would warn you about the approaching cliff?).
What I need is a question that will keep me on a good path!
The Best Accountability Question I’ve Ever Heard
So, here it is… the best question I’ve heard (thanks Bill Hybels!).
“Do you like the person you’re becoming?”
I like this because it talks about becoming. Becoming talks to the whole person, and it talks to the future. It doesn’t have to ignore the past (e.g., if I don’t like what I’m becoming, then what things have I been doing to contribute to the unlikable version of me?}. “Becoming” frees me to grow forward, not to be anchored by past mistakes.
I think Paul would like that question also:
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved [perfection], but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Phil 3:13–14 NLT)
There’s just one caveat: I’m assuming that whoever asks this question is in a singular pursuit to grow in the likeness of Christ. Greedy people could ask the same question and plot investment scandals as a result. So let me add just one little tweak to my best accountability question… ever!
Does Jesus like the person you’re becoming?
My prayer is that we will go in the freedom of grace and run the race… unencumbered… until we receive that heavenly prize. Be free… and become!