The most effective accountability is the self-imposed kind.
Last week, I heard a great example of self-imposed accountability. A friend and I attended an early morning gathering of about a thousand men in our area who had come to hear a professional football player share how his Christian faith intersects with his personal life, and with his work as a quarterback.
For the past seven years, this player has been part of a group of four men who share their lives with one another, encourage one another, ask questions of one another and know themselves so well they can tell when they are lying to one another. He calls this group his "covenant group."
Not a bad idea. They hold each other accountable in specific ways.
For example, when he is on the road, this football player takes a cell phone video of himself disabling the porn channel on the hotel television, and then e-mails that video to his friends by 7:30pm. If the other guys don't get the e-mail, they contact him.
The speaker didn't mention how his "covenant group" got started. One thing's certain, it wasn't imposed by the NFL. Although his wife must feel it's a great idea, I'm certain she didn't impose it on him either.
Would a "covenant group" even work if it was imposed by an outside force, through some form of compulsory participation? Forget it.
How about making people who don't have a "covenant group" feel guilty, to get them to have one? Would that work? Give me a break.
A person needs to have a strong internal "want to" in order for self-imposed accountability like this football player described to work. A person needs to have the kind of "want to" that comes out of a pure motive. Like the motive to be "a man after God's own heart," as King David was.
David had his own need for self-imposed accountability. "Woe to him who is alone when he falls." These words, written by David's son, in Ecclesiastes 4, say it all.
Although it is sometimes quoted at weddings, Ecclesiastes 4:10-13 speaks specifically to the workplace: "Two are better than one," writes Solomon, "because they have a good reward for their labor."
"For if they fall, one will lift up his companion....Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken."