Ep 75: What accountability CAN do and what it CAN'T

Accountability? Are you SURE that's what I need? YUP! In this episode, I share what real accountability is, what it can do for you and what it can't.


I had posted a request, asking for women that fell inside certain parameters, to let me interview them in order to help me better understand what kind of content I should be creating to offer the most value to my podcast listeners, email subscribers, and social media followers. 

I had a dozen or so ladies respond and I called each one, and we chatted. I asked all of them the same 10 questions.

Full transparency, my goal was to gather information, not to hold any of them accountable for anything they were or were not doing in their relationship with the Lord. 

Funny how God works, though.

I was shocked when, just 3 days after one of my interviews, I opened my DM’s on Instagram to this message.

“I wanted to just say thank you for being obedient and reaching out when you felt like you should reach out to get answers. Because talking to you the other day just stirred so much in my heart listening to the responses that I gave.  And the reminders, just those sweet reminders from the Lord about where I've been and what I've done and where I'm going and what I need to remember.”

“I think sometimes we just get caught up in the day to day and praying and worshiping and doing all of these things, but sometimes sitting in some of those questions and really digging in - I feel like I don't do a whole lot on my own which I guess I didn't realize I needed.”

“Anyways I just wanted to say thank you so so much and I've just been reeling since we talked and it's been really good for me so thank you again and it was so awesome talking to you.”

Wondering what could I have possibly said that had made her respond this way? If so, you are not the only one. I was shocked!

The very first question I asked, which was technically a statement, was, “Tell me about your relationship with the Lord as it looks right now.”

In all but 1 case, that initial response from every single woman was some variation of - “uhhhmm, ooooo, good question.”

But then, what followed, was answers that they themselves probably had never said aloud and, in some cases, had never really admitted to themselves. 

It was incredible. In every single case, what was supposed to be a 20 min interview became 45min to hour-long conversations where these women just opened up and shared their hearts. 

Each question I asked seemed to dig a little deeper and uncover something that had been buried, either on purpose or accidentally, for years.

Again, this was not my intention. I was just hoping to gather insights into what the women that follow me needed and wanted.

And you know what I discovered? 

They need and want accountability.

Hold up - accountability? That’s when someone makes you feel like crap about not reading your Bible or praying as often as you should, or going to church regularly. 

No friend, no one wants that. And that is not real accountability.

What I am referring to is a relationship where someone asks you the questions you either don’t know to ask yourself or, maybe you are afraid to ask yourself so that the Holy Spirit can stir your heart.

Yes, sometimes that stirring looks like conviction, and conviction either leads to defensiveness or an understanding for the need to change. But that’s not the fault of accountability. That’s between the person being convicted and the Lord.

But a lot of times, that stirring looks like a revelation that God is calling you to be something more, do something more, think something more about yourself or your circumstances. 

When I asked these women to verbally express what their relationship with the Lord looked like at that moment in their life, all of them understood its importance, all of them longed for a deeper connection, and all but one them felt like it wasn’t where it needed to be.

Through follow-up questions, we dug into why they felt way, how it got that way and what needed to change so that it didn’t stay that way.

There were a lot of honest reflections about personal choices that had been made, new insights as some connected the dots of previous events that had left behind wounds that hadn’t yet been healed, and frank complaints about the real struggles they could do nothing about.

Some of these answers came through real tears and I felt bad about that. But I was reassured that I was not causing them pain, but actually opening a flood gate that desperately needed to be broken down.

What all of these woman needed, though many of them didn’t realize it until we were in the thick of our conversation, was that needed to be asked those questions so that they could answer them.

This is what accountability can do. 

It can unlock doors to your heart through your head as you formulate answers to questions, confront lies you’ve been letting yourself believe, and receive encouragement that God is still at work in your life even when you don’t feel it.

I was not intentionally entering into an accountability conversation with any of these women, but God has gifted me in this area and I kind of did by accident.

Ironically, I seem to accidentally do this a lot. Ep 73 was the very first podcast interview I ever did and I sent my friend Sara some questions ahead of time, just to give her an idea of what about her story I was most eager to have her share with my listeners.

Before was started recording, she told me that she and her husband actually went out to dinner and spent their time together going over those questions and loved them so much because they encouraged them to talk about things they had never actually shared with each other before. And think about things they had never actually thought about before.

We joked that I should start sending them date night questions every month.

But that’s what real accountability can do. It can bring up emotions and thoughts that you would otherwise nott share.

Okay, so the other half of what I want to talk about is what real accountability CAN’T do.

It can’t make you become a better person. It can’t make you be a more loving wife. It can’t make you be a more patient parent. It can’t make you a harder worker. It can’t make you break bad habits. It can’t make you start new ones.

And it definitely can’t make you have a deeper faith and stronger relationship with God.

All of those changes come from within as the Holy Spirit to works on you. And that takes time. You may experience tremendous growth in one area very quickly while it takes years and years to grow in another area. 

You may fool others, and yourself, into thinking accountability changed you, but the true test comes when that accountability is no longer there and you either sink or swim and by that I mean you either stay changed or you fall back into the habits you were in before.

I know because I did this. In Ep 3, I shared my transformation of becoming a mother who didn’t overreact over every little thing. I tried the classic accountability tactics - memorizing fighter verses, imagining Jesus was in the room, asking a friend to check on me (side note - your best friend is most likely not your best accountability partner, just sayin’) and none of it worked because I was trying to use outside pressure to fix an inner problem.

So when accountability becomes nothing more than checking a box, it CAN’T promote growth and change.

That being said, is asking if you read your Bible this week part of accountability? Yes, of course. But then following up with, so tell what you learned that you can apply to that fight you and your husband had this week. Or what difference do the words of prophet or psalmist, that lived thousands of years ago, have to do with your daily life today?

And if she didn’t read Bible, let’s find out why not and then help her come up with a realistic plan so that she can read it next week.

Maybe this is exactly where you are stuck. You are not reading your Bible and don’t have the relationship with God you want but you don’t have the accountability relationship you need to help you get back on track.

Well, I have a solution that I would like you to consider. The Grace Over Perfection Formula: Your Guide to Growing Stronger Faith Habits

In this course, along with teaching you exactly how to make time for God within your unique schedule, I help you let go of the guilt that you may be experiencing because your current relationship with the Lord isn’t where you want it to be, where you know it needs to be. 

I will teach you how to stop being dependent on Bible Studies and how to just study your Bible so that you can find the freedom to do what you can when you can and have it make an actual impact on your life.

I will help you break through the awkwardness that makes prayer feel formal or maybe forced and teach you how to have a conversation with God where you can share your hopes and hurts, grievances and gratitude with Him easily.

Finally, I am going to teach you how to choose someone to have a real accountability relationship with, how to establish boundaries that create a safe and productive relationship that encourages spiritual growth, and what to do within that relationship.

Not to mention 3 awesome bonuses that are included.

Want in? Head over to alisonsimmonsbible.com/courses/faithhabits to sign up. Or use the link in my show notes because that’s going to be a lot easier.

There are 2 ways to participate in this course. The first is through independent study and the 2nd is “study with support.”

Why kind of support? Well…ME.

Three one-on-sessions with yours truly where we break down barriers, build up endurance and move you forward on your spiritual journey. 

Sound good? I hope so! Because I am so excited to see what God does in you through this opportunity.

Again, alisonsimmonsbible.com/courses/faithhabits or use the link in the show notes.

Before we wrap it up today, I just want to reiterate, what accountability CAN do for you and what it CAN’T.

It can help you address issues and obstacles standing in the way of your relationship with the Lord and provide practical solutions to overcome them.

It can’t make you implement anything you learn. It can, and will, give you the tools and the encouragement, but it can’t force you to take action. That, my friend, is up to you.

One last testimony that I’d like to share is from a woman that I met with several years ago. She and her husband were going through some major financial struggles and it was ripping their marriage apart. On top of that, she was a SAHM and spent most of her day with only small children so she felt very alone.

We started with calls twice a week. We just talked. I asked questions about her lie and she answered them. Things didn’t get heavy every time we talked, but sometimes a nerve was exposed and she unloaded about the pain and anger and hurt and frustration she was feeling.

And I listened. I prayed for her and with her. And I share about times in my marriage where I had felt that way too so she knew that she wasn’t alone. But most of all, I consistently reminded her what the Bible had to say about her and her marriage and her anger and her sadness and how God was still there, working on her. 

She didn’t always like it. Heck! I didn’t always like it! It can suck being the one trying to steer a ship veering off course. But now, years later, she and her husband are in a completely different place. 

Not because of me or our calls or the accountability I offered through them, but because of what God did through those conversations. 

Her marriage is different because she is different. Her relationship with her husband is strong because her relationship with the Lord is now strong.

My accountability didn’t do that. God did. But He used that accountability to open the door to her heart that had been sealed shut and she didn’t realize it.

Accountability CAN’T force change, but it CAN make you open to it if you are willing.

Was this episode helpful to you? I truly hope so! I know that accountability can seem off-putting because it is done wrong so often, but I can tell you from both personal experience as well as through the testimonies of the women I have worked with, that it is powerful in fostering spiritual growth. 

Don’t be afraid it. Embrace it. And be amazed at what God does through it.

Don’t forget to sign up for The Grace Over Perfection Forumla: Your Guide to Cultivating Stronger Faith Habits course and I would be honored to support you through one-on-one sessions as well.

Until next time, remember, laugh in the chaos, hope through tears as you learn to live each day by grace and not perfection.

Categories: spiritual growth