Accountability: Increase Your Mentoring Impact
by Dr. Waylon B. Moore
"In a day of tarnished leaders, fallen heroes, busy parents, frantic coaches,
arrogant authority figures, and egg-headed geniuses, we need mentors like never
before we need guides, not gods. Approachable, caring souls who help us
negotiate our way through life's labyrinth."
Author Fred Smith suggests that a willingness to confront is one mark of a
wise mentor. Mentoring can be a powerful change agent when the mentoree allows
accountability in the relationship. To be accountable is defined as being
"responsible, liable or answerable to another."
We live in an "everything's O.K.," "I'm not responsible," no-consequences
society. Our culture, films, TV and books rarely link a thought, an action, or
a desire to its inevitable sin. To its bottom-line payoff. How easy it would be
brainwashed by the smiling faces of beautiful people on TV and magazines! We
may see the surface, the start, the "shine," but not the end result.
God's biographies in Scripture, however, give us the whole picture, the end.
Warts and all. Life, death, glory. And our loving Father in heaven holds us
accountable for every word, action and attitude. Jesus said:
"Every idle word
that men shall speak, they shall give account . . . in the day of judgment."
(Matthew 12:36, 37; see also
Colossians 3:23, 24
Do we give others the freedom to see into our lives, and be used of God to help
us grow? Each of us needs not only a mentor who will encourage our strengths,
but also one who will reveal our blind-spots. This type of vulnerability to an
individual means we allow him to lift up a mirror and comment on what he sees in
our lives. To reflect back to us what is or appears wrong or immoral. This person
is willing to confront us in love, so that we may become
". . . sincere (waxless, transparent, pure) and without offence, till the day
Ever-learning Daws Trotman
Some people might think that one's need for godly accountability and
instruction is only there when this person is young in his faith. I recall an
amazing lesson which I learned early on to the contrary. The first time that I
heard Dawson Trotman speak was in Fort Worth at a Billy Graham Crusade. He was
founder and president of The Navigators. I was immediately struck with the
power of his message and sought to meet him.
Trotman had just accepted Graham's invitation to set up and oversee their new
attempt to personally counsel all those who came forward to make a decision for
Christ in Graham's meetings. Previously everyone just prayed the "sinner's
prayer" together. That was the counseling. Dawson Trotman, and later Lorne
Sanny, then Charlie Riggs, led in the respected Counseling/Follow-Up Ministry
of Billy Graham.
After seeing Daws at the Texas Crusade for a couple of weeks, he invited me to
a conference in California. I hitchhiked the 1600 miles to Santa Barbara, and
was overwhelmed with the mighty men and women of God whom I met. Just before
Daws was to speak, he motioned me forward, and whispered, "You've had a course
in preaching at the seminary, haven't you?" I nodded. "Well, I want you to
critique my message." I said, "Come on, Daws, I can't do that. You're speaking
to thousands of leaders with Mr. Graham."
Trotman's passion to know Christ echoes still in my heart. He was always
seeking to be better for Jesus. After Daws spoke he took me aside: "Walk with
me to the chow hall. What did you notice?" "Oh, it was just a little thing. But
the message was wonderful." Trotman then quoted Michelangelo: "'Trifles make
perfection, and perfection is no trifle.' Tell me what you saw!" Slowly I
replied, "Well, you are very good with gestures as you speak. But often you put
your hand in your pocket and I can hear the coins jingling." "Ahhhh!" Daws
gutted out in a loud explosion of air. "Thank you. Great!" He gave me a hug as
we walked. Then he took all the coins out of the pocket, and put them in his
back pocket. I never heard him rattle coins again.
Daws would never confront, until he knew he had your open heart. On many other
occasions Daws would hold me accountable about something I'd done or said,
"nailing me to the wall." It was in the rare, untouched area of attitudes where
I was most confronted. Just doing a job was never my mentor's goal; doing it
"from the heart" was the standard (Ephesians 6:6). I changed, and grew. I've
also had the privilege of being accountable to Bill Bright, Charlie Riggs,
pastors, and sometimes lost businessmen. They all "rattled my cage," holding
"At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like
it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for
it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with
"You use steel to sharpen steel; and one friend sharpens
(Proverbs 27:17, The Message, NavPress).
Accountability Group Questions
In recent years there has been a rise in accountability groups for men, but
they are still rare. Joining a group of others for prayer, spiritual growth and
accountability is to take a giant step toward maturity. Rod Handley has a
well-used and excellent list of questions. For 10 years he has taught
character and been accountable to a group of guys. Women could use some of
these questions plus others. I have used similar questions beginning a
mentoring relationship; then as we grew, we've added others.
1. Have you spent daily time in the Scriptures and in prayer?
2. Have you had any flirtatious or lustful attitudes, tempting thoughts, or
exposed yourself to any explicit materials which would not glorify God?
3. Have you been completely above reproach in your financial dealings?
4. Have you spent quality relationship time with family and friends?
5. Have you done your 100% best in your job, school, etc.?
6. Have you told any half truths or outright lies, putting yourself in a better
light to those around you?
7. Have you shared the Gospel with an unbeliever this week?
8. Have you taken care of your body through daily physical exercise and proper
9. Have you allowed any person or circumstance to rob you of your joy?
10. Have you lied to us on any of your answers today?
2 Peter 1:10
Marriage Helps Accountability
Every marriage brings with it built-in mutual accountability. For instance,
after I got married I discovered that my wife had little motivation toward
going to the movies. When I wanted to see a good movie, I would tell Clemmie I
was going to "pick up something at the mall, and be back in a couple of hours."
Once back home I encountered her normal questions, "Did you see anyone we know?
What did you buy?" My general answers weren't enough for this very feeling,
sharp young woman I'd married. Then I admitted I'd seen a movie. She would get
upset, listing all the "honey-do" things needing fixing around the house. The
more she talked, the more devious I became that next month to see a movie.
Finally, Clemmie wisely asked, "If you want to see a picture, why not tell me
before you go? I won't yell anymore." Accountability was good for our marriage;
and I began to grow out of my singleness.
Why We Resist Accountability
While being accountable may cause friction, the sin-nature of our makeup
dictates a need to be lovingly confronted. We don't need to "get away" with
anything. One of my coach-mentor pastors asked me the day after I'd been
assigned a girl to counsel with and lead to Christ: "Did you touch her in any
way?" "No, Sir," I said. He then explained with a personal story the need to
be overly careful when counseling any female.
A string of powerful "one another" commands from the Epistles urge us to be
responsible toward one another. To be accountable for loving in His church,
Paul reminds the unaccountable heart,
"None of us live as self-contained units."
(Romans 14:7, Phillips Trans.). The Holy Spirit would teach us "Mentoring
101." We are to:
"Love one another, prefer, forbear, admonish, be kind, forgive, submit, teach,
comfort, edify, exhort, consider, provoke to love and good works, confess
faults, pray for, have compassion one to another, be hospitable, be subject,
kiss one another."
As His Body, we are His hands and feet and mouth to encourage others.
Psychiatrist Louis McBurney helps people understand why we naturally resist
accountability. "The primary reason we might find it hard to face another person
who asks convicting questions is that we fear rejection. If we come clean,
will we still be accepted and maintain friendships?" Dr. McBurney lists
secondly that "no one wants to walk into a situation where one feels crushed and
embarrassed. Those who are willing to confront need great sensitivity to
respond with love." Thirdly, we don't like to face our own negative feelings
what's inside us that might boil up.
The Advantages of Being Accountable
1. We grow faster, are more mature and spiritually wise, with fewer detours.
2. We produce more. Most of us need a target and a deadline. Being accountable
to do a Bible study you've agreed to do, and knowing you'll be asked if you
completed it, makes you plan your time better. I'm living more step-by-step,
rather than by last-minute slides.
3. We will experience close, life-time friendships with a person or an
accountability group who cares for you. You have a person with which to share,
who cares for you, prays, and wants God's best for you. He or she will help you
be more like Jesus, and be open for your counsel and encouragement at the same
4. Accountability can keep you from disaster! A large survey questioned
pastors who had been immoral in their marriage. All had four things in common:
5. Most leaders gain birth through good mentoring.
contact regularly with an attractive woman;
a weak or non-existent
a conviction that they would never be unfaithful;
accountability person or group.
Dr. Howard Hendricks writes that he asks everyone to hook up with a mentor.
"After more than forty-five years of working with men in terms of mentoring
relationships, I can tell you without reservation that the men who are making
the greatest impact for God in this generation are men who have placed
themselves under the tutelage of other godly men. If you care about making any
kind of difference with your life in your work, with your family, in your
community, in your faith then find someone who can help you grow and
your life goals."
God's Accountability Blessing
God carefully gives us a promise when we open and share with each other.
"Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that you may be
(James 5:16). Confession of sin to others, however, should be done
with care, with one of the same sex (unless in marriage). And confession should
be only as broad as the sin. God forbids sharing a detailed testimony of one's
sins with the church.
"But fornication and all uncleanness, or covetousness,
let it not be once named among you as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor
foolish talking, or jesting, which are not convenient, but rather giving of
(Ephesians 5:3, 4).
Set yourself the goal to find a mentor this month. Or, link up with a group of
people desperate to have all that God has for them! Then be honest, learn and
grow strong together. Bob Roberts writes powerfully about the impact on his
life of a wise "old man," his mentor. "My old man listens to me. . . . Second,
my old man has moved beyond technique and into touch. Third, my old man teaches
me by illustration of his life. . . . There is wisdom out there. Wisdom comes
only from those who live out the truth over the long haul. You see a young
man's power and strength in the speed of the windmill. You see an old man's
wisdom in a sail that harnesses the wind, points you into the waves, and sails
you to a distant land."
1 Chuck Swindoll,
The Finishing Touch,
Dallas, Texas: Word, Inc., 1994.
2 Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (2nd), G. & C. Merriam Co.,
Publishers, Springfield, Mass.
3 Rod Handley, CTC Ministry, Lee's Summit, MO: from
Character That Counts
4 Leadership Journal, Summer, 1996, p. 34.
5 Howard and Wm. Hendricks,
As Iron Sharpens Iron,
Chicago: Moody Press, 1995, p. 85.
6 Bob Roberts, Jr.,
"I need an Old Man,"
Leadership Journal, Summer, 1996.