By Ben Bennett
from talks @ CruWC /// Dallas (Living Free: Porn, Sexuality & Jesus and From Surviving to Thriving)
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
-1 John 1:7
Healthy accountability is a lifestyle and a choice. It’s more than a weekly conversation or meeting. It’s also more than sending a report of your internet activity to someone else. Accountability is a daily choice to walk in the light through the power of the Holy Spirit. In doing so, we take steps to pursue holiness, confess sin to God and one another, live a life without secrets, ask for help and encouragement from others, and do life with one another. Walking in the light results in greater fellowship with God and others. Walking in the light is something we are commanded to do and is an active choice that we make throughout the day in the power of the Holy Spirit. As we confess our sin to God and one another, and ask for help with areas of sin, we become progressively more like Jesus and see growth and healing. Healthy accountability is not about performance, it’s about surrendering our ways of dealing with life to God and moving towards living life on His terms.
Since we live in a fallen world, we all have ways of dealing with stress and pain in life. We all have areas of habitual sin, or coping mechanisms, that we run to for comfort and to escape. Whether it’s sexual sin, anger, anxiety/fear, bingeing on video games or Netflix, drinking alcohol excessively, control, performance, overeating, body image issues, or a number of many other things. Through identifying our coping mechanisms and why we run to them, we can take steps towards surrendering to God to meet our needs. As you begin to identify habitual sin in your life, start to ask yourself what stress or pain in life you are reacting to and why. Often you’ll find that a lot of these behaviors are just symptoms of deeper pain from your past. Yes, we sin because we are sinful but we also sin because we have been sinned against and have developed ways to cope when that past pain gets triggered in life.
Example: I struggle with habitual anger and fear. Why? Obviously because I am sinful, but deeper than that, I was rejected by friends and family consistently in my past. I learned to keep others away and protect myself by becoming angry. I can power up, feel in control, and compensate for my fears of rejection by getting angry. So, the solution is to work through the pain from my past in light of my identity in Christ and to forgive those who have hurt me. When I get angry, I can ask God for forgiveness and turn from that anger by addressing the fear behind it that I’m compensating for. I can tell myself the truth and remember that I do not need to fear rejection because I am fully accepted as a loved child of God who He has adopted into His family and made righteous. There are many more aspects to healthy accountability than this document addresses, so this is merely intended to be an introduction with practical beginning steps.
To Get Started
- Find a peer of the same gender to meet with weekly for an hour, either on the phone or in person, and use the accountability instructions on the following pages. Reach out to this person on a daily basis and process life with them.
- Read the following pages and learn how to use the FASTER Scale and Double Bind.
- Begin filling out a FASTER Scale Exercise weekly prior to each meeting with your accountability partner.
Please see the following pages for instructions for the weekly accountability time.
The FASTER Scale
Look at the FASTER Scale as you read this description or check it out at fasterscaleapp.com. The FASTER Scale is an amazing tool that was developed by a Christian counselor named Michael Dye. Throughout decades of working with individuals struggling with habitual sin, Michael saw the subconscious and emotional things that would take place in someone’s life before they ended up back in their habitual sin, otherwise known as Relapse. “FASTER” is an acronym for Forgetting Priorities, Anxiety, Speeding Up, Ticked Off, Exhausted, and Relapse. Jesus tells us in John 10, that He came to give us abundant life. Our goal is to live in Restoration, where we are experiencing God and His abundant life, at peace, and keeping commitments we have made. But the problem is we get distracted by the details and tasks of our day, take life into our own hands and move away from trusting God. This is when we begin the slow descent to Relapse on the FASTER Scale.
It begins by Forgetting Priorities and experiencing one or more of the behaviors or thoughts in that category. If we don’t deal with those, we are soon in Anxiety, then so on all the way down the scale to Relapse.
Facts about the FASTER Scale:
- It’s a downward only scale. You can’t go back up, you can only get off of it by addressing the Double Bind.
- Each category stacks on top of one another, you don’t leave one and go to the next. Example.: If I’m in Speeding Up then I’m also in Anxiety and Forgetting Priorities.
- The scale is generic until you become more self aware. All of us have different ways of experiencing each category.
- You can’t skip a category of the scale.
- At minimum, a relapse is your go to coping mechanism when you are emotionally exhausted. It could be sexual sin, drinking alcohol excessively, bingeing on Netflix or video games, over eating etc.
The Double Bind
A Double Bind is when you have a decision to make and are stuck between a rock and a hard place. One side of the bind is the easier choice and involves going down the FASTER Scale and trusting your coping mechanisms. The other side of the bind, the harder choice, involves surrendering to God by dealing with the issues at hand and the underlying emotions or behaviors you are experiencing. Taking the harder choice of the Double Bind, involves a Spirit-filled step of faith, and allows you to get off of the FASTER Scale.
Example 1: I am in Anxiety on the FASTER Scale because I have been procrastinating with studying for the test I have next week. I’m really worried because if I don’t get an A on the test, I won’t get an A in the class. I’ve been taking the easier choice: I have been procrastinating so much that I went from Forgetting Priorities to now being pretty fearful and in Anxiety. The harder choice probably involves the following: plan out when I will study each day and ask a friend to encourage me and hold me accountable so I don’t procrastinate, and identify and address my fears of getting a bad grade with the truth of who I am in Christ (am I fearing feeling like a failure, feeling rejected by my parents or friends if I don’t get straight A’s, or something else?). Rather than living in fear, I can take these steps of faith in the power of the Holy Spirit and trust God with the tasks He has called me to do. If I don’t deal with this now, I’ll continue to go down the FASTER Scale and eventually relapse.
Example 2: I’m Ticked Off on the FASTER Scale because my friend and I got into an argument. I took the easier choice here by going down the FASTER Scale and getting Ticked Off. Now, I have to take the harder choice, which is to address the fear behind my anger (normally a fear of rejection) and not being heard by my friend with the truth of who I am in Christ. I can ask God’s forgiveness for my anger and I can dwell on past experiences of God’s love and provision for me to help me believe the truth. I could also make a phone call to process my emotions. This is how I can take the harder choice of the Double Bind, get off the FASTER Scale, and get back to experiencing Restoration and the abundant life Jesus came to bring.
Weekly Accountability Instructions
We confess sin to one another for counsel, growth, accountability, and because we are commanded to in James 5:16. We do not confess sin to others for forgiveness because Christ alone can forgive us when we confess to him as 1 John 1:9 says. When confessing, affirm one another, encourage one another with the truth of the gospel, and thank each other for sharing. Help one another implement growth steps to prevent the same slip up from happening again. Please use the below questions during your conversation. Prior to the meeting, fill out a FASTER Scale Exercise to assess how you have been doing emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
- Have you lied to anyone either directly or indirectly this past week? If so, what may you have been fearing?
- What did you learn about yourself from the FASTER Scale Exercise this week? (Note that Relapse on the FASTER Scale is different depending on the person. It could be sexual sin, drinking alcohol excessively, bingeing on Netflix or video games, over eating etc. It’s important to determine what a relapse is for you based on the ways you may escape and cope with pain or stress in life. Online version fasterscaleapp.com)
- Have you given in to sexual sin (whether physical actions or thoughts) this past week, or relapsed in another way? When? What are the details?
- What were the actions/interactions/reactions that led to this? (people/places/things involved)
- What do you need to implement to prevent this from happening again and how can I help? (IE. call me when triggered or tempted, process stress, get accountability software for phone/computer, give computer to friend)
- What challenge will you be facing (a task, situation, or area of sin) this coming week? How can you set yourself up well to deal with this challenge? How can I encourage you, follow up with you, and hold you accountable with facing this challenge?
- Take a few minutes to pray for one another and remind each other of the gospel.
For more checkout Ben’s Men’s Time talk (Living Free: Porn, Sexuality & Jesus) and Seminar (From Surviving to Thriving) from Cru Winter Conference /// Dallas 2017