I’ve tried “getting my life together” more than once or twice. You too? Often, I begin with a measure of zeal, lit by a fire of inspiration (“Let’s do this!”) or perspiration (“Things are spiraling out of control – I must do this”). Big hopes and dreams that I will finally become “focused,” setting and meeting goals, achieving balance in my life. And all too often, I would forget about such plans. Or, more perilously, I disregarded such planning as taking away time from the “real work” that needs to be done.
By God’s grace, at the beginning of the summer a friend and colleague approached me to be her accountability partner, as she humbly realized the need for extra structure beyond the formal relationships with her faculty advisors and her own personal discipline. I hesitated for two reasons. I like to keep my word, so I wanted to make sure I knew what we would be getting into before I agreed. The second reason was more selfish, and probably the bigger cause for my hesitation: What would be in it for me?
As usual, God gave me more than I ever anticipated (Ephesians 3:20). At our first meeting, she asked how our relationship could be beneficial to me. I struggled to think of how, and sought wisdom from another Christian friend. That led me to realize that she, as a married woman who knew my situation intimately, could hold me accountable in my relationships with men as I pursue purity before marriage.
Our accountability partnership has helped us both reassess and reorganize our lives – how we use the most precious gift given to us all: TIME. As Paul says in Ephesians 5:15-17 (NASB): “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Initially, I perhaps over-focused on the details of how we planned our time and use systems to aid us in achieving goals (e.g., electronic calendars, journals, moleskin notebooks). I think it’s important to take “what (research says) works” and tailor it to our individual needs, concerns, and preferences. I began with a template from an expert in academic planning and tweaked it (and continue to tweak it) to be most useful for who and where I am right now.
But I must always remind myself of the bigger picture: to discern the will of the Lord.
I urge you, brothers and sisters: If your heart is pricked about being more focused, more disciplined, more faithful – ask God to direct you to the support and accountability He will provide (II Peter 1:3).
The benefits to me have been exponential. Similar to Joshua Shiver’s revelation, I found joy and refreshing in working in the counseling and mentoring gifts God has given me. Not only has this accountability relationship provided additional support to my friend and colleague, but I found space to assess what was working in my life, and what wasn’t. And, perhaps most importantly, being accountable to my sister in Christ has strengthened my hands and my heart to hold ever more fast to the personal promise that God has given me (Hebrews 10:23).
Prayer Request: That we would number our days (Psalm 90:12), find community of support and accountability (Galatians 6:2), and humbly remember that God has the final say (Proverbs 16:9).
About the author:
Tamarie Macon is a Provost's Postdoctoral Fellow at New York University. She studies Black fathers' parenting and how they promote the adaptive emotional development of their young children. She also teaches courses in Applied Psychology. She completed her PhD in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan. She previously studied at Rutgers University and worked on Capitol Hill.