I feel like this was a team that didn’t quit and we just kept fighting. We held everybody accountable for what we had to do to win. – Denard Robinson, University of Michigan Quarterback, 2011-12
In an interview after this year’s Sugar Bowl victory and one of the best seasons in the history of the University of Michigan football program, quarterback Denard Robinson attributed his team’s success largely to the accountability that the players had with each other.
This kind of accountability means having a deep mutual commitment to helping each other succeed. It is motivated by care and determination to reach a common goal. It will not let anyone settle for being less than who they could be. I believe that this kind of accountability amongst peers is the key to transforming any team, group or organization, whether secular or spiritual.
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)
A number of years ago, a small group of teenagers I know decided to be part of a Bible Talk called Double Edge. Something special took place in this group because almost all of the teenagers decided to become Christians and are now leaders on their college campuses. They are also all significant contributors to the BACC Campus and Y-Ministry. I believe what made Double Edge a successful and special group is the accountability that the teenagers had with each other.
Think about it: how often do you see a group of young teenagers (13, 14, 15 years old) taking responsibility for each other’s relationship with God and spiritual well being? This level of accountability and friendship helped each member grow and develop vision for the kind of person they could become and the kind of personal relationship with God they could build.
As the Bible says in Proverbs 27, the teenagers in the group strove to care about each other, sharpen each other, and have high expectations for each other. Nathan Schaffernoth was one of the original members of Double Edge and he said, “The thing that helped me was when there were no adults present and we were given the responsibility to talk to each other and engage one another. It was on us to help each other get better for the future.”
Nate Baker, another member of the Double Edge Bible Talk, said, “I think for me, it just put becoming a disciple on my radar and gave me the first taste of what it really meant to study the Bible. I wasn’t ready at that point to make decisions that I needed to make, but it helped build a foundation for the future.” Nate later became a Christian and now goes to Stanford University.
Peer relationships are extremely important but unfortunately they are also undervalued. Why? We often believe we need someone older and wiser to help us grow spiritually. I believe that our peers help us grow the most because they know us and have the most time to influence us. Our true character is most often revealed when spending time with our peers.
Do you have friends in your life who hold you accountable and have high expectations for you? How do you respond when they give you input or advice?
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Decide to build transformative peer relationships; you will grow in your personal relationship with God and in your leadership. In Philippians 2, the Bible gives us a road map for how to do it. With these kinds of friends in our lives holding us accountable, 2012 will be our best year yet!