My Dear “Kindred Spirit,”

I was accused a few weeks ago of having given up blogging. I would like to protest that accusation, but looking at the date of my last post on here, I’m not sure I’ve got a leg to stand on arguing against that.

Let me just say that in my head I haven’t given up blogging. It’s just that for the past 6+ months none of my blog posts have quite made it out of my head and onto my blog…

Until now! This one is making it onto the blog, so let’s hop to it!

So. Accountability.

Does that word set off anyone else’s “yuck meter,” or is it just me??

I know some people (and I follow a lot more people on social media) who are really big on accountability. Apparently it’s a thing in modern-day Christianity. Having an “accountability partner” who holds your feet to the fire, so to speak.

I’m not a fan. (But maybe you figured that out already when I told you the word “accountability” sets off my yuck meter.) And here’s why:

For starters, I just don’t think it’s anyone else’s job to keep me on the straight and narrow. I do not believe that we as Christians are called to go around whacking our fellow Christians on the head and whipping them back into line.

We’re called to uplift and encourage our fellow believers. To be part of their lives. To have relationship with them. To be there for them, listen to their struggles, pray for them, cry and laugh with them.

None of that sounds like “accountability,” “holding their feet to the fire,” or “checking up” on them. At least, not in my mind.

Secondly, even if you do want to argue that we are called to “check up” on other Christians in our lives, here’s the thing:

It doesn’t work!!!

The long and short of it is, NOTHING you do or say can change anyone else. You simply aren’t that powerful.

The only people who can make a person change are that person and God. Unless they actually want to change their behavior, it will not happen, not matter how much “accountability” you give them.

And even when they DO want to change, you poking and prodding them toward that change will do more harm than good (because YOU CAN’T CHANGE THEM!!).

All your “accountability” amounts to is weak attempts to scare and annoy them into doing the right thing. You really think that’s an effective way change someone? A loving, Christian way to inspire change in their life? Fear and intimidation never work long-term.

And “accountability” is much better at breeding resentment than motivating healthy growth or change.

Remember when you were a kid, and you were hard at work cleaning your bedroom like your mom told you to do? (I know, I know. “Hard at work”?? A rare occasion, right?) And remember when one of your siblings came in to “check up” on you? Started pointing out all the toys you hadn’t picked up yet, and how your laundry still needed to be folded? You were so grateful, weren’t you? You thanked them for pointing that out to you and… oh. Wait. No, sorry, I got that backwards, didn’t I? In actuality, you chased them out of the room screaming for mom to make them stop bothering you!

I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but when you walk in and start “checking up” on your Christian friends, you are being the annoying sibling pointing out the toys still on the floor and the unfolded laundry. (I’m pretty sure they’re already aware of both those things, by the way.) And although they may not push you out of the door and scream for mommy, I can almost guarantee that they’re not going to appreciate that accusing finger you’re pointing their way, even if you have labeled it “loving accountability.”

Sorry, but they just ain’t feelin’ the love.

Now, imagine this went down a little differently. What if, back in that messy room of your childhood, your sibling walked in and instead of checking up on you, they came to check in on you. “How are you doing? Can I help you with anything? Here, let me fold those clothes for you.”

I’m just gonna make a wild guess that you wouldn’t chase them out of your bedroom in that case. And you might actually even thank them! *gasp!*

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret here:

There is a WORLD of difference between checking UP on someone and checking IN on them.

May I say that again, please?

There is a world of difference between checking up on someone, and checking in on someone.

Perhaps you have a different definition of the word, but in my mind, “accountability” falls in the checking up category…

Seriously, think about this for a minute! Do you know what God’s timeline for your own life is? No?

Then how on earth do you know what God’s timeline for your friend’s life is? How do you know when and in what ways God intends for them to learn, grow, and be changed?

Give it up, man! Stop playing God!

Let GOD have the job of checking up on them (and you), of nudging and pushing all of us toward change. He’s the only one who can actually lovingly hold us accountable.

So what do you do?

Have patience. Be a friend. Be an encourager and an uplifter. Listen. Build relationship. Love. Talk. Laugh. Pray.

Check in on people.

Just please, please, please stop checking up on them.

Love, N.




2 thoughts on “Accountability

  1. Thanks, N. I may not be quite as anti-accountability as you, but I get what you’re saying. Part of the problem may be that many accountability cheerleaders come from a tradition in which God is the omniscient taskmaster and scorekeeper, rather than the generous lavisher of grace.

    I really like the checking IN vs checking ON distinction. I’m all for more of that in the world!


    1. I think you’re on to something there! And perhaps in a more grace-focused culture accountability would look a lot more like “checking in” instead of the “checking on” that I’ve seen and disliked.


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