We meet regularly with someone outside of our ministry setting who provides us with a confidential space where we can reflect on our discipleship and/or ministry. We are accountable to this person in that we invite them to guide and sometimes challenge us, yet their role is wholly supportive. They accompany us as we share with them what we
may be unable to share with those we see day by day. They might be a mentor, a pastoral supervisor, a spiritual director, or coach, or we share in a learning community.
It could be more than one of these if helpful. When we need prompting to consider how we follow Jesus in every area of our lives, a mentor asks the questions we need to address; when we are working in a setting that places significant demands on us, a pastoral supervisor helps us to process how we are managing our work; when we want to deepen our walk with God, a spiritual director helps us to shape our inner life; when we have a particular project to complete or matter to address, a coach with relevant expertise is valuable; when we want to explore with fellow practitioners some different
ways of working, a learning community helps us to grow through paying attention to the experience of others.
It is not always possible to access one of these five more formal types of
accompaniment. In this instance we seek peer mentoring in which we meet regularly with a ministry colleague to share frankly and prayerfully the highs and lows of our work. Or we pursue the Celtic idea of the soul friend, a safe person with a strong, ongoing commitment to the well-being of our soul, in whom we can confide through good and bad times. Or we go beyond one-on-one accountability by joining a ‘huddle’. Here, we meet often with a group of peers to share deeply what God is doing in us and through us, personally and in ministry.
Whatever the expression looks like, the principle is that we are accountable to somebody who journeys with us. They provide a space for us to reflect on our ideas and initiatives, our relationships and our conflict, our pattern of life and our walk with Jesus.
Accountability partnerships often have a shelf life, so we review from time to time what type of accompaniment will best help us in any season.