IVP: Why is accountability particularly difficult in this day
Tom Eisenman: Developing deeper and more meaningful relationships with others takes time, energy and intentionality. Many men today feel like they are already overwhelmed with business commitments, church involvement and responsibilities to their families. They find it difficult to carve out the time to develop good and lasting relationships with other men. But lacking this support system, men who are burning out are also more vulnerable to spiritual collapse and to moral failure that can ruin them. It‘s too great a price to pay. We have to give priority and focused attention to our spiritual health. A solid, consistent spiritual walk is usually the fruit of maintaining key relationships with other men who are committed to upholding and strengthening one another.
IVP: Why did you decide to write The Accountable Man?
Eisenman: I remember an early experience in my Christian walk in which I had to deal with several things in my life that had been continuing problems for me. On numerous occasions I had prayed fervently about these difficult areas and determined to do something about it. But my determination and discipline always caved in after a time. My deliverance came when I finally had the courage to go to my small group of men and humbly share these struggle areas. The men loved me, dedicated themselves to pray for me and, most important, said they would check regularly with me on how I was doing in these areas. The love, support and accountability they offered made the difference in my life. I want men everywhere to enjoy the freedoms God promises to provide. I wrote the book to emphasize my heartfelt belief that renewal begins in repentance and continues in obedience, strengthened by accountability.
IVP: Describe an accountability relationship.
Eisenman: In essence, the accountable man is a Christian man who is willing to risk opening his life up to others in order to become answerable for his attitudes and actions. In The Accountable Man I emphasize that it is essential to have at least one friend we can count on to speak the truth to us in love (Eph 4:15). We all need the help of others to honestly see where there may be inconsistencies between what we say we believe and how we actually live. It takes great maturity for a man to risk entering into this kind of honest relationship. But when a man takes this step, he is making a serious commitment to be everything he can be for Christ. God always blesses this kind of mature obedience.
IVP: How can you know if you are ready to enter into an accountability relationship?
Eisenman: Any Christian man who does not have close and growing relationships with other men needs to find a way to initiate friendships that have the potential to grow deep. Or if a man struggles with areas of temptation and can‘t seem to find release and deliverance, that man needs to take the courageous step into accountability with at least one other man. If a man loves the Lord but doesn‘t think he is growing in his prayer life, Scripture knowledge and the living application of God‘s truth to his work life, family life, church service, then this man needs to consider entering into relationship with others who can help encourage this growth.
It is in the accountable relationship that the deeper friendship skills are formed. As men we need practice with others in how to become more vulnerable, honest, open, willing to admit our weaknesses in order to grow through them. These qualities are scary to think about for most men. But we have to overcome our fears of what might be uncharted waters for us, and trust that God will lead us and help us where we need to experience growth in forming and maintaining meaningful relationships with other men.