seven principles for effective accountability

Here are seven principles for effective accountability; each is further explained by showing what effective accountability is and is not.

(Excerpt from an article by Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.)

1. Effective accountability does not rely exclusively on accountability.

Accountability Is……one weapon among many.

Accountability Is Not……the only weapon in the fight against sin.


2. Effective accountability is involved early rather than late.

Accountability Is……calling out for help in the moment of temptation and before you sin.

Accountability Is Not……delayed confession—the regular reporting of sins already committed. (*1)

3. Effective accountability involves someone with maturity.

Accountability Is……able to function best when it occurs under the leadership of someone who has a track record of victory over the sin in question.

Accountability Is Not……going to work well if you are seeking accountability with someone who is struggling and sinning in the same area as you. (*2)

4) Effective accountability involves someone with authority (Heb 13:17).

Accountability Is……involving those who can speak with authority. It may also involve those who “…watch over you as those who must give an account.”

Accountability Is Not……fighting on your own; by definition, accountability is not a solo effort.

5) Effective accountability should avoid explicit details (Eph 5:11-12).

Accountability Is……describing sin and temptation in general terms with the goal of enabling your accountability person to help you best.

Accountability Is Not……not a place where explicit details are shared; we must avoid fueling further temptation.

6) Effective accountability places the responsibility for confession on the person with the problem.

Accountability Is……full and free confession without prompting, pushing or demands for honesty.

Accountability Is Not……going repeatedly through a list of questions without making honest and up-front confession of a particular sin. (*3)

7) Effective accountability must actually hold people accountable.

Accountability Is……being actively involved in the life of another Christian with regular and caring communication. (*4)

Accountability Is Not……simply the commitment to meet regularly and work through a list of questions.


*1 “You will not experience dramatic change in your struggle as long as you use accountability to describe your sins instead of declaring your need for help in the midst of temptation.”

*2 “Seeking accountability from those who are in the same place in their struggle as you are may make you feel comfortable but is unlikely to lead to actual change.”

*3 “A person waiting passively to provide answers to specific questions is in a far different place spiritually than a person who is willing to take the initiative to expose their struggles in the pure light of day.”

*4 “The calling to be a spiritual person who restores another caught in a sin is a high and holy calling that requires time.”

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