Growing Deeper with Your Accountability Partner

Bob Parkins

If you have ever watched a documentary on wild animals, you probably know the two primary defenses these animals employ to protect themselves from predators. The animals that form herds or communities are constantly protected by their numbers. When attacked by prey, these animals flee danger together. It is those that don’t remain with the herd that are usually killed, typically the young, old, or weak.

1 Peter 5:8 describes our enemy [the devil] as a ‘roaring lion, who walks around, seeking someone to devour.’ This passage is not just an effective word-picture of the realities of daily temptation, but an important warning to flee and stick together.

Sticking together is absolutely an essential part of addiction recovery. James 5:16 tells us that in order to be healed, we need to be transparent with one another through confession. God created us to be in community and relationship with not just him, but one another.

Notice in Genesis 2, after God created Man, he created Woman because ‘it is not good that man be alone.’ God did not design us to be completely isolated from other people. Even though Adam was in intimate communion with God, he still was not complete until God gave him a partner.

Those who struggle with addictive behaviors especially tend to have difficulty forming and maintaining accountable relationships. They resist accountability because it is contrary to the way they have become comfortable living; they live as rugged individualists, or Lone Rangers. Most addicts don’t want to be held accountable. They don’t want anyone to look over their shoulder and want to be the boss of their own recovery program.

But those who do not remain accountable to others in their recovery simply don’t recover. This is not, however, just an issue of control; addicts are also hiding. Allowing another person access to look over your shoulder can leave one feeling somewhat naked or exposed. After hiding behind their masks for so long they have convinced themselves that no one will truly accept them the way they are – they are afraid of intimacy.

Accountability relationships should be supportive and encouraging relationships, although many do not fully utilize the support available to them. It is not uncommon for men to tell me they relapsed, and while they thought of calling their accountability partner for support, they didn’t. Sometimes they were afraid they would bother him, felt ashamed, or simply didn’t want to stop.

I once asked a group of men how they feel when they receive a call for support from their accountability partner. They told me they actually feel important when they are asked for help. It not only helps the person calling, but strengthens the partner as well. They feel valued, and more tightly bonded together as ‘brothers in arms.’ The Bible describes this as ‘iron sharpening iron'(Prov. 27:17).

For those who have difficulty calling their accountability partner when they are feeling tempted, I encourage you to call sooner. There comes a point when you already have decided to act out, and if a call for support is going to be made, it is essential to call way before reaching this point. One of the best ways to train yourself to call your accountability partner for help is to practice. Call your accountability partner when you have a victory. It is much easier to reach out when you feel victorious, rather than shamed. When you call before you are in trouble, it strengthens your confidence, relationship, and may help you prevail over or avoid temptation altogether. You are putting your fears to the test when you call your accountability partner and challenging those old beliefs that you will not be accepted as imperfect. How do you feel when your accountability partner calls you for help? If you feel at all valued, encouraged, strengthened, bonded or closer to him, chances are this is how he feels getting a call from you.

Together with your accountability partner, you are much more likely to succeed in your recovery (Ecc. 4:9-10; Prov. 17:17). For animals in the wild, fleeing danger together is a matter of life or death, and so it is also with us.

Need help finding an accountability partner? See Every Man’s Battle.
For Drug and Alcohol help, see New Life’s Recovery Place.

Moving On

Whether you attended our first Every Man’s Battle Workshop in Chestertown, MD, or one of our more recent workshops, I would like to take a minute to extend a heart felt greeting to each of you, and to give you a word of encouragement. A five day seminar on sexual purity that you knew little about before coming can be a very scary thing. I think you guys are to be commended for your bravery and willingness to take a look at yourselves in that way. I hope the days since you ‘graduated’ from Every Man’s Battle  have been good ones, and that you are experiencing more and more of God’s love and grace.

Before I go any further, let me tell you a little about myself. I have been in recovery from drugs, alcohol and sex addiction for a little over nine years. I was involved in the use of pornography, as well as massage parlors and the occasional escort service. One day a friend invited me to Saddleback Church in Southern California, which I began attending on a regular basis, and which I loved. Saddleback had a program that met every Friday night called Celebrate Recovery. As I started attending Celebrate Recovery, the Lord started working in my life. Gradually, I gave up the drinking, drugs and sexual immorality.

One thing I know for sure is that I could not have done it without a support system, without being ministered to by people who were struggling with similar things. God, working through Celebrate Recovery, my support system, and my own personal quiet times of prayer and Bible Study, got me to a place of sexual purity. It wasn’t easy; it was, and continues to be a battle. Like we say, it’s Every Man’s Battle.

How about you? Do you have a support system? Do you have some friends to hold you accountable when you travel? Are you in the Word and talking to God on a daily basis? Perhaps are you a ‘lone ranger’ in recovery? If you feel that you can do this on your own, that you don’t need other people in your life, if you’re isolating and not connecting with some type of support group, then it’s no accident that you are reading this. God wants you to be in relationship with others, He’s wired you that way. If you are “lone rangering” your recovery, I urge you to reach out to a support group, or find an accountability partner. If you need help call 1-800-NEW-LIFE, we can help connect you with a New Life Group