Situation: How do I find a financial accountability partner?
Terrence from London wrote that he’d been wrestling with for a while with the idea of financial accountability. “Apart from my wife, I simply don’t have anyone with whom I can discuss radical giving.”
I love that Terrence wants to go deeper, and that he recognizes the need for accountability. How do we get there?
Scripture: “It’s always better together.”
My childhood pastor, Stu, served fought in the special forces. He was a biblical scholar and a massive man with a booming voice.
How could Pastor Stu need anyone? But about once a month, in describing the church, Stu talked about family, about our need for one another. “It’s always better together,” he said.
He would remind us that “one another” is a phrase used 100 times in the New Testament.
- Galatians 6:2 tells us to “bear one another’s burdens.”
- James 5:16 says to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11 reminds us to “encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
This teaching echoes truths from Proverbs 27:17 (“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another”) and Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.”)
Money is one of these areas.
Terrence sees the value of accountability, and is asking how to find it. I pray, Terrance, that God fulfills your desire for accountability. Here are some steps I’ve seen givers take toward this.
Steps: Discern what you need in this relationship; ask God to provide that.
Accountability and fellowship are good gifts that God wants to give us. But, like so many of His best gifts, He waits for us to ask him. Consider fasting and praying.
1. Think About Rhythms.
What kind of meeting do you want from this relationship? How often do you hope to meet? Is this an annual meeting to share your financial update, to walk through each of your major gifts? Or a more frequent accountability partner?
2. Check Your Heart.
It can be tempting to seek “accountability” to show others how generous we’re being. A good indicator: If I feel a surge of vanity as I think about accountability, I need to get back to Matthew 6, which says, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them; if you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Pray for a situation in which you can find accountability without the temptation to show off.
3. Identify Criteria.
What attributes do you think this person has? Three come to mind:
- Trustworthy. Watch for people who are deeply trustworthy. How do you identify them? Proverbs 11:13 says, “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.” Watch out for those who gossip!
- Content. A good financial accountability partner will have no financial needs that you can meet. Ideally, their resources roughly match, or exceed, yours. Some of the most godly people we know draw their paychecks from personal support or from churches or ministries. For example, if you’re in a small church with great financial needs, even if your pastor doesn’t ask anything of you, you may not feel your pastor is a good accountability partner. The Enemy wants you to think that everyone just wants you for your money; one way to overcome that lie is to find those who don’t need, and don’t want, the money God’s given you.
- Bold. Some friends are wonderfully agreeable. But in our giving, we look for friends who will challenge us and ask us questions about our lifestyle and stewardship. Has this person ever challenged you or admonished you toward deeper love for Jesus or righteousness.
4. Ask Him.
Sometimes we think, “OK, I’ll pray and then think.” But Jesus tells us that his sheep can hear His voice. After a few days of praying, ask God, “Is there someone, Father, whom you want to bring to mind? Who can I walk in this with?”
5. Start Slow.
As God gives you names, meet for coffee to talk about life and generosity generally. Carolyn and I have shared the specifics of our giving with a small handful of people. But it was never our first conversation. Luke 16 says “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.” Consider sharing a small bit of information to see how they handle it. Considering sharing another area of struggle to see if they will remember and encourage you toward greater holiness and joy.
6. Consider Professionals.
While the ideal is to find brothers and sisters you can run with, some find that professional financials advisers are best positioned to provide accountability. Try to find a believing financial adviser who thinks not just about maximizing wealth on Earth, but true wealth in Heaven. Tell them what you hope to achieve and invite them to challenge you and hold you accountable.