I was listening to Mark Brouwer being interviewed and he made a very interesting point that I agree with. He said most accountability groups don’t work! I have some issues with making this a global statement but I tend to agree. Furthermore, I would extend this to mentoring relationships. Most mentoring relationships don’t work. Especially when one person expects some change as the output of this relationship. Mark goes on to say during the interview that unless one person in the group understands the process of change these groups are likely to end up not working…. especially in the case of addictive sin. This interview came at an interesting time for me since next year I plan to start a start at a new Church and facilitate a group of men using material based on understanding the process of change in addictive sin.
Let me say a word about the word addiction. Usually the word addiction is used by 2 kinds of people: Those that believe they are addicted and see a need to change….. and those that see themselves as pretty good and dont need to change. However, scripture tells us that there is no sin not common to all men and scripture reminds us of mans addiction to sin! There is a fine line between addictive sin and any other kind of sin. Often it comes down to just how honest you are about yourself. My point here is all Christians can benefit from a mentoring relationship with a person that understands the process of change in real relationships! In the past few years God has been calling me to lead groups of people that are active church-goers and have assurance “in Christ” but are still struggling in big ways!! Next year will be year 2 doing this.
So as I prep for organizing this group and lead this group through some highly specific Gospel-Centric material on “How people Change” I have some ideas that I know are common to people and groups that are serious about change . In the Christian world we call change sanctification.
These are the habits of successful accountability groups based on the book of Nehemiah. These are also traits necessary for change. When combined with a person that can lead others through a process of change biblically…. a person that has learned to swim when others are drowning in a world and culture of sinfullness … accountability groups and mentoring relationships can be successful!
1. Brokenness and Humility “After he heard the news, he wept”
- First thing is Confession
- Getting Honest
- Secrets are like cancer
2. Repentance, Returning to God
- Prodigal younger son
- sharing honestly what you are feeling
- if you are going to be accountable learn how to talk about your feelings and “talk your thoughts
- Engage Repentance as a “life long process” of distancing yourself from sin as opposed to a one time act
3. You need an army/group
- you have a better chance of survival if you work together
- in the movie gladiator those that fought alone died. In groups of 10, they formed a “tortoise formation” that was impenetrable when they locked shields
- Find 10 other men to be in your army
4. Get rid of the garbage in your life
- What is the garbage in your life that no-one else knows about? Secret e-mail accounts, pictures, instant messengers, DVDs
- Lies are garbage
- Shame and thinking your not good enough is garbage. There is no sin that separates us from the Love of God.
5. Prepare for attacks. Place guards at your weak spots
- Know temptation will come, Prepare for it
- Where/When are your weakest moments. Know your triggers.
6. Defend and Build in Equal Measures
- 50% of the men were defending the wall and 50% were building it.
- What are you BUILDING!
- “One of the greatest enemies of freedom from sin is boredom”
7. The work of recovery from sin may be hard but DO WHATEVER IT TAKES!
- Do whatever it takes for as long as it takes
8. Your functional theology matters (1 Tim 4:16). Most peoples theology does not affect their thinkology. People who have addictive personalities do two things… they run from pain and they run toward pleasure (numbing our pain). To have true change we must:
- Re-embrace the Gospel, the good news of our savior Jesus Christ, and see the fresh mercies and love of the cross given every day to sinners
- DEEPLY understand the idolatrous nature of our sin and see the sin behind the sin (most people only see the behavior as sin but most do not see the idolatry of our sin). Replace this idolatry by deepening our identity in Christ
- Learn to understand Gods sovereign purpose in suffering so we can understand and handle pain and suffering and resolve interpersonal conflict without engaging our old, sinful habits