On a recent Saturday, I conducted a morning retreat to launch a peer coach training group in our church. In the presentation, we discussed the value of growth-centered relationships. Peer coaching attempts to foster relationships that will lead to personal and spiritual growth. I was reminded that relationships that produce individual growth are actually rooted in two things—encouragement and accountability. They are two sides of a coin.
Several years ago, I was involved in a performance review with my supervisor. As we talked, I recounted some things that I had tried in the past year that has seemed promising but had failed to produce the desired results. I suppose I was feeling a bit guilty about the lack of success these efforts produced. My supervisor responded with a comment to this effect: “Don’t worry about it. Keep trying new things. It’s the only way you will learn what works.” Although he was not abdicating the position of accountability he held over me, he was also giving me the gift of encouragement.
In Missional Renaissance, Reggie McNeal writes, “Genuine spirituality lives and flourishes only in cultures and relationships of accountability.” We might add to that statement these words: “and where one is encouraged to grow.”