Written by Braden Hafner. Braden works for FamilyLife Canada and partners with Restored Ministries in multiple ways, including co-hosting the Pure Victory Podcast.
My wife, a teacher, often tells me stories about her students. At times, her stories brings me back to when I was a student and I wonder if I was the subject of after-school stories from one of my teachers to their spouse.
“This one guy named Braden, he’s making my hair turn grey!”
“Honey, I HAVE to tell you what Braden did today…”
As a teenager I had a mentality of self-preservation that played itself out in avoiding responsibility.
In High School, I considered it a “win” to talk my way out of discipline with an authority figure, or to avoid getting marks docked off an assignment that I had handed in late to a teacher. Avoiding consequences was an ongoing mandate in my life at that point.
Now that I am older and more mature, I have the hindsight to see the times where I was held to account as moments of growth that affected me for the better.
You know what it’s like to stubbornly walk through a dark room determined to get where you’re going, but you keep stubbing your toes on the way? It’s so much easier to just turn the light on.
I had one of those lightbulb moments in Grade 10 where I learned something that changed my life. What I learned was this:
Welcoming Accountability Lets Someone Raise You To New Levels
At that time, I was failing most of my classes. Even though I had the ability, my work ethic left much to be desired. One day, I did really well on a social studies quiz and, let’s just say, this was not the norm. My teacher didn’t see it as an aberration though, but as a sign of what I could do. Mr. Edwards pulled me aside and challenged me in a way that seemed uncomfortable in the moment, yet had a lasting effect on me.
“Braden, I see that you scored high on your quiz and I wanted to tell you that you have what it takes. I can see that you are much better than your grades suggest and I believe that you can succeed. Let’s plan to get your grades up because you do have the ability to do so and I believe in you.”
The conversation with Mr. Edwards transformed me and challenged me in such a way that I raised my grade from failing to honors in a matter of a few months.
Mr. Edwards held me to account in a way that didn’t condemn me for past failure, but instead put me on the path for future success.
When we split the word ‘accountability’ into two, we get ‘account’ and ‘ability.’ Mr. Edwards was getting me to account for the ability that I had.
Accountability breeds response-ability.
I’m sure we can all attest to a period of our lives when it was far greater to be held accountable for something than to avoid responsibility.
For much of my life I avoided responsibility and accountability - especially with pornography.
Pornography is very much a part of my story and history; however, I didn’t fully comprehend the importance of true accountability when I was walking in the midst of it.
As a believer I knew I needed accountability, but my understanding of what that meant was greatly skewed. Often it took the form of a weekly confession where I would use surface language to describe my struggles, but would never get to the root of the problem.
“I lusted this week!” “I messed up, man!”
These were some catchphrases of choice. I knew that a pat on the back and an “I’ll pray for you” were the responses I’d get by my equally unaware accountability partner.
Unfortunately, this if often the format of accountability we are accustomed to in the church. An ongoing cycle of confession and an ‘aww shucks’ mentality of “thanks for telling me” and “I will pray for you” is simply a means to get it off our chest – but there’s nothing beyond that.
What if accountability is meant to be something completely different than this?
Galatians 6:1-2 says, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
I have walked with many men through the struggle of their porn addictions over the years and it seems that at best, we get the basics of confessing to one another, but we miss the boat on the component of restoring one another - i.e., holding to account for the ability that we have.
The first time I experienced true accountability was largely uncomfortable, yet greatly encouraging and challenging to me. I wasn’t berated or shamed for what I had done, but instead was proactively challenged as to what I was going to do for the next week to move towards total restoration?
What was my plan?
This was different from what I had experienced before as the restorative process of it all included a challenge and a game plan.
I was actually being held to account.
I was being held accountable.
For more specifics on how to set up powerful accountability, you can read this blog: Pro-Tips on Effective Accountability.
Accountability is not about avoiding the response needed or the consequences that come.
It isn’t a format to be used to gloss over the sin or to hide, but instead is an ongoing challenge and edification that points us in an upward trajectory towards health in Christ. It is not performance based in a legalistic sense, but is an amalgamation of understanding the spiritual, the physical, and the emotional (soul) aspects of addiction and spurring each other on with that in mind.
This is a struggle that’s magnified in isolation, so to beat it, let’s break the isolation by talking with someone about it.
If you struggle in sexual addiction know that God calls us to do this together.
The Pure Freedom Journey offered by Restored Ministries gives you weekly training and a group of men who support each other as they’re all at different stages of their journeys with purity. I highly recommend you taking advantage of this unique and powerful resource.
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