There are many abilities that become a big deal in college. For instance…
– Affordability: the reason you eat fish taco’s from a gas station.
– Flexibility: learning the art of turning a 15-minute break into a “power nap.”
– Wearability: judgement call on getting one more use out of an outfit before you HAVE to do laundry. (usually involves turning something inside out)
All joking aside, there a number of things you learn to do in college, that will set you up for success the rest of your life. Of all the many “abilities” that are useful in college, perhaps the most legit beneficial ability to incorporate into the college experience is ACCOUNTABILITY. Accountability is defined as “responsibility, liability, answerability.” It is the encouragement, support, correction and discipline provided by an intentional and meaningful relationship.
Accountability does not just happen. It is a choice, and only occurs as one willfully and vulnerably submits to another, trusting that it is for their good and God’s glory.
There are several aspect of accountability that can greatly benefit your life. I strongly encourage you to seek it out in the following three relationships:
1) Pursue a Paul (someone older to serve as a mentor)
There is a long list in Scripture of those impacted by the mentoring of the Apostle Paul. (Titus, Onesimus, Luke, and Timothy, to name a few.) This impact did not take place in a formal classroom setting, but in the context of life and ministry. Paul’s mentoring was both theoretical AND highly practical.
Who in your life is a Paul-type mentor you are pursuing? Who in your life is older and wiser that you are allowing to influence you? Mentoring is typically not best accomplished through a formal program, but as one desiring such training and mentoring pursues it.
Asking “Will you mentor me?” is probably not the best approach to a mentoring relationship. Let it happen more organically and relationally. It typically best happens as one observes, questions, learns, and imitates another. I know very few great leaders who will not invest their lives in someone they see trying to emulate their life and leadership.
How do you pursue a Paul? Look around and ask these questions:
- Who is someone older and wiser than me that I respect?
- Is there someone who has the character and reputation I desire?
- Who is making the impact that I desire to make?
Pray that God will open doors for you to have relationship and favor with this person. Ask for wisdom in pursuing opportunities for proximity and influence. Then begin to watch, listen, learn, and imitate what you see in them.
2) Seek a Silas (a friend that offers true accountability)
There is absolutely nothing like a genuine friend who wants the best for you and loves you enough to be honest with you. True friends are hard on you when necessary, and stick with you no matter the circumstances. In Scripture, we see such a friendship between Silas and Paul. Silas traveled extensively with Paul, ministering and spreading the Gospel. In Acts 16:19-40, we see that he was arrested with Paul, beaten severely with Paul, and confined to the dungeon of a jail with Paul with their legs in stocks together. Silas had Paul’s back no matter what.
Notice the nature of their friendship in Acts 16:25-31,
Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household.
Even in jail, they sang hymns of worship together and encouraged one another as they ministered to those around them. Do you have a friend like that? Who in your life wants God’s best for you and is committed to helping you discover and live it?
In seeking a Silas, ask the following questions:
- Who is someone I can relate to & rely on?
- What friend loves me enough to call me out?
- Who wants God’s best for me no matter what?
As you identify such a friend, make time with them a priority. You may only have a friend or two like this in your lifetime. If you have one, do all you can to value that person and invest in that friendship. If you don’t have that yet, pray that God opens the door for a friendship like that.
Remember, the best way to have a friend like that, is to be a friend like that.
3) Train a Timothy (someone younger to pour into)
As much as you can benefit from a mentoring relationship with someone older and wiser than you, there is equally as much value in you being that mentor to someone younger and less-experienced than you. Who are you intentionally investing your life into as a mentor and coach?
Paul served as a “spiritual father” to Timothy. He spent time with him, taught him, equipped him, encouraged him, and help him be successful in his faith and ministry.
But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. 11 You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured…But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. – 2 Timothy 3:10-11, 14
Such encouragement as this only flows from an intentional investment of Paul’s life into Timothy.
But know that such a mentoring relationship does not just benefit the one being mentored. Mentoring another can benefit you in a number of ways:
- As you teach a principle, it highlights that truth in your own heart.
- Teaching another challenges you & creates accountability. (1 Corinthians 9:27, “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”)
- Investing in others brings joy. (3 John 4, “I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.”)
As Paul mentored Timothy, he encouraged him to take all that he learned and pass that on to others as well.
You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. – 2 Timothy 2:2
Mentoring in such a way exponentially multiplies your influence and impact.
Accountability is not always easy, but it is vital to success. When you know who you want to be and where you want to go, there is nothing like investing in relationships that can help you get there.
Today, invest in those relationships that are for your good and God’s glory. I’m confident that is an investment you will offer a return for a lifetime!
Investment in relationships that are for your good & God’s glory are investments that will offer a return for a lifetime!