The Importance of Accountability


In a previous post, I mentioned the dangers of enabling an addict. But how can a person stop enabling and become someone who encourages the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Some of the time, if you make an attempt to hold the addict accountable, they may think that you are trying to control them.

In one sense, you are trying to control them because you know that they are not in control of their own lives and are making irresponsible choices. But if an addict wants to change, then they must be submissive to God and to others. In the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes that believers should submit themselves to one another out of reverence for the Lord (Eph. 5:21).

Therefore, God uses people to keep the addict accountable.

When an addict submits to the authority of the counselor, a family member, or accountability partner, they are being submissive to God. Thus, the adduct must submit to the invisible and visible authorities in his or her life if they want to overcome their addiction. But let this be a warning: do not abuse your authority as counselors, family members, or accountability partners.

In the world of addiction, addicts tend to shirk responsibility in favor of catering to the selfish desires of the flesh. Therefore, it is important to teach the addict what it means to be responsible and accountable by modeling a servant leader’s heart. Do not use manipulation in order to make the addict make the “right” decision. Sometimes, they need to have the freedom to make choices and experience the consequences of making the wrong choice.

Here is a sample list of accountability measures that I have found to be useful: [1]

  • Monitor phone/internet access.

  • Delete any unnecessary email accounts

  • Create a family email account with Gmail

  • Set internet password for phone and computer.

  • Delete Facebook account

  • Monitor all Internet accounts (know usernames and passwords)

  • Block someone’s number and cut off all contact with this person

  • Keep records of mileage/expenses

  • Monitor all bank accounts

  • Keep a Weekly Time-Log in order to hold everyone accountable

What About Hurt and Rejection?

But what about hurt and rejection in the life of a family member or accountability partner? There may be a time when the addict will emotionally hurt you, or even reject your help. What should you do then?

1. Remember that the addict has not rejected you, but has rejected God.

Listen to what the Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:4–8, “But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”

Even though the addict has rejected your help, try not to take it personally. According to the Bible, when we are rejected it is ultimately due to the rejection of God. Continue to pray for the addict in hopes that he or she will be reconciled to the Lord.

2. Do not be ashamed or embarrassed if you are rejected.

Remember to always be praying for the addict and yourself. In your prayers make sure that you ask God to keep you from becoming bitter. Don’t ask “why me?” Rather, ask God to teach you something about the situation.

3. Find comfort in the Lord and in the fellowship of other believers.

First, find comfort in the Lord. In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Cor. 1:3-5). Find hope in the God of all comfort and use your experience as an opportunity to share the hope of the gospel with others.

Second, find comfort in the fellowship of other believers. You do not have to go into all the details about your situation. However, do not keep everything bottled inside. Find support in the fellowship of other believers. Ask them to pray for you and to walk with you through this time of pain and suffering in your life. Focus on yourself and how to respond in a way that pleases God rather than focusing on the addict.

Third, focus on your relationship with the Lord. In particularly, focus on four key areas: God’s Word, your prayer life, worshipping God, and fellowshipping with other believers.

Conclusion

Do not be like Peter and lose focus on Jesus. You will sink into despair and will be overcome by the waves of your trial. Rather, focus on your relationship with the Lord and realize that the enemy (Satan and not the addict) has been defeated and God is ruling and reigning on His throne.

[1] See Appendix F in Mark Shaw, The Heart of Addiction, 233.