Accountability in Mentoring

  • Don Payne
  • Mar 30, 2007

Healthy mentoring relationships often involve some form of accountability. Yet, some abuse it. Others resist it. For many, it's great in theory but confusing in practice. Still, an emphasis on accountability has become almost cliche and it is sometimes viewed as a panacea. Perhaps we need to hold accountability accountable so that it can make a healthy contribution to our mentoring relationships. Consider these tips.

First, base accountability on clear terms. Be specific  about goals, objectives and means of communication. Clarity in an open, safe atmosphere contributes to trust and moves us away from either defensive self-justification or unnecessary self-condemnation.

Second, focus accountability on growth, not merely preservation and protection. Preservation and protection are crucial, of course, but not sufficient. Actually, preoccupation with preservation and protection can make us more susceptible to failure. Healthy accountability should focus on motivation, helping us visualize the growth that will capture our hearts. The goal of accountability should be to stand strong, able to take full responsibility for faithful service and living.

Third, distinguish between accountability and invasiveness. At times that may be a fuzzy distinction. Remember, though, that every person's life is sacred territory, deserving our utmost respect even we must venture courageously into sensitive areas.

Fourth, allow for mutual accountability. Even mentors need to be held accountable for their modeling and mentoring! We cannot be the Body of Christ through one-way relationships.

Fifth, be patient. Powerful, accountable relationships do not appear instantly. They grow as trust grows, as goals become clear, as we experience progress, as we honor each other, and as God's grace is shared in every direction.

As we hold accountability accountable it can be transformed from frustration and intimidation into a life-giving resource!