In the Army we have something called the ‘Battle Buddy System’. All that really boils down to is having one person who you check on a regular basis to make sure they are squared away and are prepared for the situations you are going through (whether in training or in combat). And of course, they do the same for you. There have been many times in my Army career that I have been able to keep my battle-buddy out of trouble simply by reminding them to bring a sensitive item with them to a meeting or to check if they were awake to go to PT (Physical Training). They did the same for me many times.
Having a battle-buddy is an essential thing in the Army. It is drilled into you from Basic Training (or Initial Entry Training now) all the way to deployments. The reason for this is that if we do not take care of each other the mission is already in danger from the start. What happens when someone forgot their ammo? Or forgot a compass for land navigation? Or forgot to put the grid coordinates into the GPS? All kinds of damage can be avoided simply by having an accountability partner.
The same is true in our spiritual battles. Having a battle-buddy who knows your struggles and is willing to remind you of things, hold you accountable for your actions, and keep in touch regularly to keep you on track with your walk with Christ is a pivotal part of being a Christian. I do not find it surprising that Jesus sent his followers out to do ministry in pairs. In the missionary journeys of the first century Church they also worked in pairs or groups. Sure, protection was part of it. I would submit, however, that accountability was a big part of it as well.
Let’s examine again 2 Samuel chapter 12. This is the very uncomfortable situation that the prophet Nathan had to deal with. God had tasked Nathan with the job of confronting David about his sin. If they were best friends this might not have been such a hard task. Hard, true. But not near as hard as confronting the ruler of an entire nation. Let’s be honest, none of us would want to be the one telling the President that he had sinned against God. Thankfully in the USA we at least wouldn’t have to worry about the President sentencing us to death. As king, David could have said the word and Nathan would have been killed like Uriah was.
Take some time to reread 2 Samuel chapter 12. Nathan was faithful, and David was confronted about his disobedience to God. Notice David’s attitude: he was full of sorrow and repentance. Because of this true repentance God forgave David even though there were still consequences to his actions. I have often wondered what would have happened had Nathan not obeyed God and confronted David? How would the history of Israel (and possible the entire world) have been rewritten because David did not repent?
Time to get personal: who in your life holds you accountable? Hopefully you have a quick answer. If it is a struggle then we have a potential problem. What I’m talking about here is deep, personal, honest accountability in your areas of struggle. Everyone who wants to walk with Christ needs someone that is close to them to meet with them regularly and ask them the tough questions. You and I need someone who loves us enough to keep us out of danger and away from our guardrails in life. There have been many times when I didn’t see a problem that my accountability partner did and they pointed the danger out. Like a driver who has a blind spot, having a spot mirror can give you better clarity. The same is true of an accountability partner.
There are some warnings to take, however. Don’t let your accountability partner be your spouse or girlfriend. They can be honest with you on issues, but they don’t need to be responsible for talking with you about your deepest sin struggles on a regular basis. That is not healthy for your relationship to always be thinking of your spiritual dirty laundry. Your accountability partner also should not be of the opposite gender. There are simply some struggles that men will not understand about women and vice versa.
You accountability partner should also struggle in the same areas you do. If you struggle with alcohol and your partner never has had any problems with drinking then they cannot truly understand what you are going through. They will not see the warning signs in your life and be able to point out the dangers to you. Any accountability partner is better than none, but the closer they are to your own problems they more they will be able to identify with you and help you.
Lastly, you need to meet regularly with your accountability partner. Once a month is too few times to truly know what is going on in your life. My recommendation is to meet face to face once a week and chat/text/call daily. Have a time to really hash out your life struggles but also check daily to let them know you are praying for them. I meet with my accountability partner on the same day of the week, early in the morning before work. We also text message each other daily to ask how we are doing and pray. When we have to skip a weekly meeting I can assure you that I face more temptation that week that I don’t normally deal with.
That is my challenge for you today: find an accountability partner. Put that protective measure in place to ensure that you are taking care of yourself and your friend. Be willing to be a Nathan to someone and risk getting hurt to make sure that they are spiritually safe. And know that your battle-buddy has your back and will protect you as well.