Healthy Truth #11 – Accountability

personal trainer guiding client through kettlebell swings

Truth #11 – Accountability cannot force me; it can only reinforce me.

In Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia, he followed up on his instructions to carry each other’s burdens with a sobering reminder of personal responsibility and healthy pride, seen in Galatians 6:4-5…

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. (NIV)

One of the coolest things about training someone is the relationship and camaraderie we build as I drive them forward to their goals. We have some wins and some losses, but we share them together in a most fulfilling way. I get the special privilege of experiencing it all with them and helping them grow in the necessary discipline so that the victories begin to displace the defeats.

Such a dynamic isn’t limited to the trainer/client relationship, of course. Many successful workout regimens are bolstered by the presence of one or two workout partners (a cord of three strands is not quickly broken… I feel like I’ve heard that before…). This sort of arrangement offers the no-excuses accountability that comes with having a personal trainer, but for the low, low price of letting your friend talk to you like a coach sometimes. And let me tell you: that kind of intimacy with friends is a good thing.

The encouragement that comes with these relationships can be immensely rewarding. They can spur you on when you might have called it a day: “Come on, one more lap. I know you can do it!” They can offer the objectivity we don’t have on our own: “You’re bending your back; straighten up.” Or even: “Stop being so preoccupied about your weight! You’re beautiful and you’re in much better shape than when you started.” And at times, they give us the swift kick in the rear we need to get our head in the game: “Don’t quit now. You committed to six sets; we might drop the weight if you can’t go further, but you will finish.”

Accountability can lead you to push harder, reach deeper, run faster, stretch further, and jump higher. However, it can’t push, reach, run, stretch, or jump for you.

Accountability is powerful. It can lead you to push harder, reach deeper, run faster, stretch further, and jump higher. However, it can’t push, reach, run, stretch, or jump for you. It will help you stick to your commitment, but it can’t make a commitment on your behalf. It can solidify your self-discipline, but it can’t be your self-discipline.

I can challenge a client to put on her big girl panties and finish her workout, but she’s going to have to be the one donning the metaphorical underwear. I can’t put them on for her. They’re not my color, you see.

Ultimately, you have to want it; you have to fight for it; you have to discipline yourself to reach your goals.

Every workout partner will make mistakes — they will fail you. Even the professionals you pay lots of money will make mistakes — we will fail you, too. We’re all human; mistake-making runs in our blood. If you’re using anyone else as your own backbone or your sole source of motivation, you’re set up for disaster. When they falter, you will, too.

I must draw my primary power from the Holy Spirit inside me so it’s unfailing.

I must be pushing myself more than my trainer, instructor, or workout partner is pushing me — ideally, their primary job is to teach and restrain me, not motivate me.

I must be honest with myself enough to say when I really have no more and when I’m just tired and want to stop, and then be disciplined enough to go further when appropriate.

I must reach into my stretches to the right point and listen to my own body, particularly when doing assisted stretches when my partner or trainer is counting on me to tell them how far to go.

I must get my own butt up out of bed, even when I don’t want to. Especially when I don’t want to.

I must press through that last rep rather than just expecting my spotter to lift it off me.

Having someone on my side gives me a huge advantage, and many people keep a personal trainer for no other reason. However, they can’t be the only one on my side; I must be there, too. On my own initiative. Under my own power.

I must test myself, not them. Then I can truly take pride in myself as Paul wrote. I don’t have to compare myself to someone else (see Truth #1). I just have to compare myself to myself and be sure I’m making progress, working today like I know I should. I must carry my own load.

If I won’t do it when I’m by myself, without anyone but the Holy Spirit backing me, then there’s no guarantee I’ll do it when I’ve got a partner or a trainer pushing me. That’s the nature of self-discipline. Accountability cannot force me; it can only reinforce me.

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Originally posted 2016-03-11 08:00:06.

Photo credit: David Holt London / Foter / CC BY-SA
About Phil (251 Articles)
Philip Osgood is a Christian husband, father, and writer who considers himself a passable video game player, fiction reader, camping and hiking enthusiast, welder, computer guy, and fitness aficionado, though real experts in each field might just die of laughter to hear him claim it. He has been called snarky, cynical, intelligent, eccentric, creative, logical, and Steve for some reason. Phil and his beautiful wife Clara live in Texas with their children in a house with a dog but no white picket fence. He does own a titanium spork from ThinkGeek, though, so he must be alright.