The one thing I can’t do

by +CrystalThieringer    @cdthieringer


DSC00494My friend and I were shopping at the outlet stores.

“Don’t let me spend any more than…” she said as she quoted her budget.

Another day, a friend said, “Don’t let me eat any more brownies.”

At work I heard, “I have to get this done by the end of the month. Make me do it.”

When I was younger, I would have agreed in a heartbeat. My friends need me? I’m there. In each of these cases, however, my answer was, “no.” It will always be “no” in the future.

Why? Because I will fail.

I can remind about a deadline, question the cost of something, and put healthier options out to eat. I can encourage, listen, cajole, and remind. But what I cannot do is make someone else accountable, regardless of the reason.

Accountability is a tricky thing. We need it, but I’ve noticed a subtlety in how we approach it, sometimes in ways that lead us to failure more often than to success.

In asking someone else to make us accountable for something, what we’re really doing is suggesting they be accountable on our behalf. In other words, we introduce plausible irresponsibility. After all, if we don’t succeed, well, we just didn’t have the support, did we?The difference is subtle, but asking someone to make us accountable is not the same as being… Click To Tweet

Miriam Webster defines accountability as “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions”. Personally, I would expand the definition to include “account for one’s actions and inactions.”

This isn’t easy. As much as I wish I could blame everyone for the many extra pounds I carry, for example, I know deep inside that I am the one who ate everything. I am the one who must eat differently. No one can make me and in fact, if someone does, I’m more likely to react by eating more.DSC00501

As much as I wish I had three novels written, the fact is I have to sit down and do the work. I haven’t yet, and no one can make me. It won’t happen until I decide it’s the most important thing for me to do right now.

Accountability groups are valuable resources.  Finding the best-fit group means finding like-minded people who will encourage me, and allow me the pleasure of encouraging them back. We have shared struggles, and we will have shared joys. There are so many ways I can’t get by without a little help from my friends and family, without a lot of help from God.

But being accountable for the small things as well as the big things? That’s up to me.


If you’re faithful in small-scale matters, you’ll be faithful with far bigger responsibilities.

Luke 16:10 (Voice)

4 thoughts on “The one thing I can’t do

  1. Thank you for causing me to think about this in a different way. I find I only ask for accountability when I’m pretty certain I don’t really need the monitoring or extra push. Simply letting people know about a plan or intended goal is often enough for me to follow through. It’s those plans I never share I haven’t really committed to. Once I’m ready to commit, I tell people. Not because I need them or want them to hold me accountable, but because letting them know means I’ve decided for myself an action needs to be taken.

    1. Yes, I totally agree with you on this! But the difference is that you’re not expecting them to make you accountable–you’ve already decided. You’re only letting them know they can count on you to do this. You haven’t asked them to do anything, you’re informing them of a decision, or a path or direction you will take. I am not convinced that’s always the case.

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