The insight that accountability to fellow believers is essential to growing in maturity as a Christian was central to early Methodism. Methodism survived beyond Wesleyâ€™s lifetime because of his organization genius, and that genius focused on developing structures to of accountability.
To the extent it has retained accountability, modern Methodism has translated it primarily into bureaucratic institutions. As individuals, Methodists donâ€™t really care to be help accountable for the way they live their lives. I believe that is a major reason we lack the power of early Methodism. If we are to recover that power, we must find ways to recover spiritual accountability.
Hereâ€™s one idea: Start where you are.
Most of us already find ourselves in relationships. Start by allowing the people closest to you to hold you accountable. If youâ€™re married, ask your husband or wife to hold you accountable. If youâ€™re not married, ask your parents, children or a friend to work with you. Start in practical areas. Agree on a set of questions that fits your situation. Here are some suggestions:
- Am I being faithful to my marriage vows and to the needs of my family?
- Do I listen to my spouse and children in such a way that they are convinced I am listening?
- Am I demonstrating the Fruit of the Spirit in my family life in such a way that my family is being drawn to Christ?
- Do I have a healthy balance in my relationships â€“ family, work, ministry, and recreation?
We can answer each of these questions for ourselves in the privacy of our own minds. But that wonâ€™t work very well. Weâ€™re just too prone toward self-deception. We need outside input from those who are close to us and know us well. In my experience, those who are least willing to allow those close to them to challenge them in these areas face the greatest risk of self-deception.