Being a part of the over-forty crowd, I now know people who have had a face-lift. One acquaintance, a lady ten years older than me, had "the works" done - brow-lift, eye-bag removal, and whatever else was involved to make her look extremely surprised 24/7 for weeks after surgery. The process seemed agonizingly painful to me. The moment I saw the row of staples that crossed her hairline from ear to ear I actually became quite fond of the wrinkles that line my forehead when I'm surprised or angry. And one look at her puffy, bruised eyes solidified my love for the creases at the corners of mine. Her incisions eventually healed and the scars became nearly invisible, but I still have no desire to undergo any kind of face-lift. I often feel the same way about getting a faith-lift. When I wear my faith too long without taking care of it, it begins to sag, leaving me with little spiritual energy and a wrinkled testimony. At the same time, the thought of taking the steps to care for and increase my faith scares me. Issues of forgiveness, hypocrisy, and complacency can often seem overwhelming and better left alone, yet I know God does not want me to be content with a sagging faith. Fortunately, he provides me with the tool of accountability to help cut away that which is bringing weakness to my faith. It is up to me to give consent for this surgery of my soul.
During the Bible study segment of your small group, challenge your members to be accountable to the lesson discussed during your meeting by pairing up as accountability partners. Although it is best to start a new study with accountability, it will still be beneficial if you are currently in the middle of a study. At the beginning of the study portion of your group, hand each person a consent form:
Consent Form for Faith-lift
I, _________________________________, give permission to __________________________ to hold me accountable to applying the principles of the lessons discussed during our study of __________________, from ____date_____ to ____date______.
(name of accountability partner)
Before filling out the form, open a discussion about accountability. Encourage the group to define accountability and share their personal fears or needs. Ask for testimonies about how God has worked through accountability. Ask those that are willing to have an accountability partner to pair up with someone and fill out the consent forms. Those who are not comfortable should not be forced to have an accountability partner. Hesitant ones will still benefit from watching and listening to the others throughout the course of the study, and may be more open to accountability during the next study.
Accountability partners can use the following tools of accountability or use ideas of their own:
- Write down on an index card, the biggest personal challenge of the lesson each week. Exchange cards at the end of the meeting and pray for each other during the week.
- Check in with each other daily through email. Share struggles and/or victories.
- Make a commitment to have lunch once a week.
- Agree to call one another as the need arises.