Discipling: Do You Hold Others Accountable or Encourage?

How many times have you heard (or said) that accountability is an important aspect of discipling others? When you say/hear accountable, what definition do you give to the word? How does your definition compare to this one?

accountable (adjective): subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something; responsible; answerable.


When you say/hear the word, does it have a positive or negative connotation? Are you expecting the best or the worst? Are you trying to force or support change?

Accountable or Encourage?

In reality, we cannot change another person. The individual (with the Lord) has the choice to pursue the needed change. While there are some who need a drill sergeant barking orders to do the right thing, most people prefer someone walking with them toward the change.

Think through your reasons for accountability in your discipling. Are you trying to lead your disciple to develop certain habits/practice certain methods? What are the best ways to accomplish that change and mindset? We all know that guilt is a poor motivator. If change does not result, how will you move forward?

Encouragement and better questions tend to produce better results than guilt. Instead of asking “Why can’t you memorize your verses?”, why not ask, “How can I help you with your memorization?” Instead of asking “What was the problem this week?”, why not ask “How can I pray for your situation?” or “How can I help?”

What Would Jesus Do?

This is more than a personality issue. It is more than simply about communication. This is leading our disciples to become more like Jesus. How would Jesus handle these issues? Would He be more likely to hold us accountable or to encourage us? While examples can be cited for both, I invite you to consider the question Jesus asked after Peter had denied Him:

He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

John 21:17a, CSB

Yes, there was accountability. But more than that, Jesus was inviting Peter to remember his love for Christ, to forgive himself, and to follow Him. The question was pregnant with positive expectations. Use your questions to encourage your disciples. Help them to move forward rather than get stuck or remain stuck. I hope this makes as much sense to you as it does to me. Be a disciple. Make disciples!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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