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“I bet you make sure you have at least one good quiet time a week in order to write your blogs,” my friend teased. I laughed, but he was right, accountability helps us do what we want to do.

I didn’t set out to build accountability into my life, but my desire to grow in my faith and encourage others wove it into my routines. I begin my week with our church small group and end it with my prayer partner. In between, I meet with my small group Bible study.

Activities alone don’t insure growth, but the accountability they add can help. Below are some components that work for me:

Desire: I want to love the Lord and live a life that pleases Him, but I feel the pull of the flesh. I have a plaque that says, “Discipline ... doing what we don’t want to do so we can accomplish what we’ve always wanted.” When incoming E-mails and computer solitaire lure me with the promise of immediate gratification, knowing I’ll have to share what I’m reading at Bible study gives me that extra incentive to do what I really want to do.

Authenticity: I am drawn to people I don’t need to impress. I want the people I’m around to be real with me too. We don’t don our halos when we come together; we’re honest with each other. We laugh and cry together, and we’ve shared anger and confusion. If one says she is ready to shoot the man who abused her nephew, we know she is processing her grief, not going out to buy a gun. We understand.

Shared faith, values, and goals: The people who comprise my accountability partners share a common fundamental. We are building our lives on our faith in Jesus Christ. He is the reason we meet. Your partners may share other goals with you. Do you want to run a marathon, or get out of debt? We have individual journeys, but we share a common goal.

Individual effort: Just belonging to a team is not enough to reach your goal. The U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team showed the strength and joy that come from a good team. The “Fab Five” cried, comforted, encouraged, and cheered each other to gold. But ultimately, there would have been no success without individual desire and discipline. No one can do your routine for you.

Hebrews 3:13 (NASB) says, "… encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’... .”

Accountability encourages us to do the things we may not want to do so we can have what we have always wanted. What do you want most? What are you doing to realize your dream?

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