Be completely honest with each other. Partial honesty isn’t enough; only 100 percent honesty will do. Keep in mind that, if you can’t be completely honest with your accountability partners, then who can you be honest with? Also, if you aren’t being honest with your accountability group, are you really being honest with yourself?

Listen carefully to each other. When others in your group are sharing their thoughts and feelings, give them your full attention, listening carefully to them. Afterward, don’t judge or criticize them, but instead challenge them – with love and respect – to put their faith into action to deal with the issues they’ve shared. Let them know that they can count on your support as they try to grow in those areas.

Keep information confidential. Protect the privacy of the people in your group who share sensitive information with you by keeping it absolutely confidential. Ask God to help you make sure that you keep your promises not to reveal private information to people outside your accountability group. Remember that even one breach of confidentiality can break the crucial bonds of trust between you that are necessary for your accountability group to function.

Courageously consider the reasons why you’re struggling with various issues. Ask God to give you the courage to investigate why you’re driven to act in certain ways that trouble you, and to figure out how to pursue healing and make better choices moving forward.

Motivate and help each other achieve goals. Encourage and support each other to set and take specific steps to reach specific goals – from losing a certain amount of weight to overcoming an addiction to pornography. Use the strengths and weaknesses of everyone in your group to complement each other as you spur each other on to live better lives. Learn from mistakes and celebrate successes together.

Adapted from Open: What Happens When You Get Real, Get Honest, and Get Accountable, copyright 2013 by Craig William Gross. Published by Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tn., www.thomasnelson.com.      

Craig Gross is an author, speaker, pastor, and revolutionary. He shot to prominence in 2002 when he founded the website www.XXXchurch.com. Craig is the author of nine books. He currently resides in Los Angeles, Ca., with his wife, Jeanette, and their two children, Nolan and Elise.

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the new Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.

Publication date: September 30, 2013