In a recent post, R.C. Sproul Jr., commented on a conversation he had with a church deacon twenty years ago. The deacon had asked him whether he had an accountability group. The deacon defined an accountability group as “a group of men who are active in your life, that care for you enough to challenge you when you fall into sin. They watch out for you, support you, encourage you to grow in grace and wisdom.” To this, a young R.C. Sproul Jr. responded: “I do have an accountability group. It’s just that I call them my friends.”
I recommend for you to click the hyperlink above at go read the rest of Sproul Jr.’s post. I personally agree with all the points he makes regarding the institutionalization of aspects in Christian life that he believes should be more “natural.” And in the case of accountability, I believe from personal experience that friends and family should fill that role in a Christian’s life. It shouldn’t be necessary to have set up a program to get people into accountability groups. Just like in the case of Sproul Jr., the friends that we are able to make in a church/Kingdom environment should fulfill that need in our life.
Now, let’s say that for some reason, none of your friends fulfill the role defined by the deacon above. Is it okay to approach a pastor, a men’s ministry or “women’s ministry” program at your church to get connected to an accountability group? Yes, that’s perfectly fine, and in some settings and specific situations, these programs are vital to developing healthy Christian lives. But I would also say that you need to make more friends. Make friends that love Jesus, make friends that are passionate for God and His Kingdom. And make friends that not only are supportive and compassionate, but also challenge you and give you wisdom, specially when we fall into sin. This doesn’t mean that you need to cut-off all you non-Christian friends. Some of the people that have been there for me in tough situations and in times of need were non-Christian friends who found the grace and mercy to love and lend me a hand.
But as believers, we are called to develop core friendships within God’s Kingdom. And if for some reason, these quality friendships are simply impossible to make at church, then there is something much deeper and much more interesting going on at church.
Strong Christian friends should never allow you to walk into the lions‘ den without first trying to tackle you off the gate. At the same time, your friends shouldn’t BE the lion‘ den. True and Godly Christian friendships challenge you and pour wisdom and love over your life. But they also are passionate for your well-being, whether that well-being isn’t in the direction you are currently heading.
By now you may be thinking, “well it seems like I’m supposed to have these super Christian godly friends I will never be able to find.” I really hope that is not the image I am portraying here. Finding Godly friends who keep you accountable doesn’t require to pull up people’s spiritual and heavenly resume before developing a friendship with them. What it does require is approaching life trusting God with our hearts, our minds, our spirit, and asking for wisdom not just in making friendships, but in all that we do. I believe that we are able to, by God’s grace, naturally develop excellent friendships if we simply trust God with who we are and what we do.
I have the best accountability group. Just like Sproul Jr., I call them my friends. Throughout high school, my friends Matthew, Andrew, among others, were there for me when I needed to rejoice, and when I needed to cry. Even in college, God led me to develop a great friendship with my friend Tim, the first person I call when I seems like some areas of my life are beginning to fall off the cliff. Even my long-time pastor, mentor, and friend Jeremy, is part of this core group of friends who have always held me accountable. When I met these awesome men of God, I wasn’t looking for prime candidates to trust my heart with. I was simply looking for relationships, and God simply led the way.