One of my biggest hobbies is running. I enjoy running because it is an opportunity to physically challenge myself, while simultaneously viewing God’s beautiful creation.
This past Thanksgiving morning, my dad signed us both up for a 4-mile race called “I’m Thankful Four.” All proceeds collected from the race were donated toward the Kelsey Mikel Memorial Foundation. As eager as I was to run for a good cause, I was also slightly dreading the race because of the lack of training. I mean, it is difficult as a college student to balance a full-time class load, two jobs, and a social life… running had taken a backseat in my schedule. Therefore, upon our arrival to the event my goal was simply to finish without throwing up.
3…2…1…Immediately, as the countdown began my competitive nature kicked in, and I knew I had to exhort all of my energy toward finishing at an “appropriate” time. The first two miles were a breeze; I was in the top 25% of the pack and felt good. However, at mile three I began to struggle. My motivation, my determination, and my speed had all seemed to plummet. Instantly, I detested myself for the lack of preparation and training I had (or hadn’t) done leading up to the race. Simultaneously, while my mental state of mind began to crumble a woman in her thirties ran up beside me. She was also competing in the race but while running she took the time to exchange words of encouragement to me. Startled and frankly out of breath, I asked her how much longer until we reached the finish line?
One mile left to the finish line was her response. After sharing a handful of words, this woman became eager not just to finish this race but also to see me finish at my best performance. The last mile was the most challenging but was also the most rewarding mile during the run. Every part of my body ached, but I desired to stay strong for my new fond running partner. Half a mile remained, and I could see the finish line. I looked at the woman and exchanged my gratitude by encouraging her [us] to finish strong. She responded proclaiming that she could not move any faster, but she wanted me too. At the end of her statement, she threw in a challenge to beat another woman running who was approximately 100 meters ahead of us. I took on the challenge and beat the woman. However, this blog is not to narrate my run, rather it is to serve as an illustration of a greater lesson I learned through that experience: Accountability.
What exactly is accountability? An accountability relationship should be one in which two or more believers prompt each other to grow closer to the Lord through questioning, challenging, admonishing, confessing, and encouraging. The purpose of this relationship should be to help each other grow. Growth may occur in various areas of a person’s life; spiritual growth and personal growth are two areas of accountability that immediately come to my mind. However, an area of accountability that goes under the radar is financial accountability.
Mental doubt can be a leading factor which hinders someone from pursuing and reaching a financial goal. Thoughts such as, “I don’t know how to begin” or “No one else struggles with finances, like I do” are lies embedded in a mind to disenable someone from success. A financial accountability partner is essential when setting and pursuing goals. Just as I had an accountability partner help me finish the race at my best performance, an accountability partner may also help you focus on your financial goal(s). Scripture also demonstrates accountability as a critical step in every individual’s spirituality.
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” –James 5:16
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:1-2
“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:25
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2
Generally, when we think of accountability, we think only of the negative. Usually believers think of this as sharing their sins with others. While this is part of accountability, there is more to it. Accountability should incorporate not only the confession of sins, but also the sharing of burdens, testimony of God’s work, and prayer. It should be an uplifting time of worship and fellowship that helps those involved grow closer to each other and the Lord. As previously stated, accountability should also entail questioning, challenging, admonishing, confessing, and encouraging.
At one point during my run, I was ready to give up. I was ready to surrender my white flag; I felt my mental, emotional, and physical body pleading to quit. The one and only thing that kept me from slowing down was my running partner. And during those four miles, I found myself being challenged and encouraged. Her encouragement sparked a persistence within me that I did not know I had, and her challenge uncovered a strength that I perceived was lost. Through this woman’s model of a true accountability, I finished the race. Not only that, but the woman that she had challenged me to beat was a senior in high school who had qualified and competed in the Regional tournament this year for the cross country team. With no training, I beat her; I did not beat her out of my own ability, but due to the encouragement and strength of another individual, I was able to cross the finish line first.
Are you ready to give up on your finances and surrender your white flag? Let me be your financial accountability partner. Together, we can go further than you could ever imagine doing on your own.