Having a Battle Buddy is Important
“How have you sinned since last we met?”
This isn’t a question you want to hear from your senior chaplain or pastor—or any other person in spiritual authority over you. But it’s a question that’s been asked in pairs and small groups during accountability sessions for almost three centuries.
On Christmas day in 1738…
When he was a student at Oxford University, John Wesley drew up rules for the spiritual accountability group he’d organized. Later, as a minister, he applied the same guidelines to the small “societies” he established in the church. It was in these support groups that members were accountable to one another. They confessed their shortcomings, prayed for each other, and encouraged one another to love and good works.
Society members gathered to fulfill the direction in James 5:16: “Confess your sins to one another, and pray one for another, so that you may be healed.” Wesley’s guidelines for these groups were simple. Members were to meet at least once a week “punctually at the hour appointed, without some extraordinary reason.” The pastor encouraged the men to share in order, freely, and plainly the “true state of our souls, with the faults we have committed in thought, word, or deed, and the temptations we have felt, since our last meeting.” Any member was allowed to ask others for more details on their sins and temptations. The meeting ended in prayer for the specific needs expressed by each member.
To aid society members in asking penetrating questions when appropriate, Wesley devised a list of possible queries. Some were designed to be covered every time a group gathered. They included the following:
- What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?
- What temptations have you met with?
- How were you delivered?
- What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?
- Have you nothing you desire to keep secret?
Beyond the basic questions:
Wesley listed almost two dozen others that were designed to explore members’ spirituality in more depth. Among them were:
- Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I’m better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
- Do I pass on to others what’s been said to me in confidence?
- Can I be trusted?
- Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
- Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
- Do I give the Bible time to speak to me every day?
- Am I enjoying prayer?
- When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?
- Do I pray about the money I spend?
- Do I disobey God in anything?
- Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
- Am I defeated in any part of my life?
- Am I proud, jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?
- How do I spend my spare time?
- Is there anyone I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, resent, or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
- Do I grumble or complain constantly?
- Is Christ real to me?
As hard as it is to ask ourselves these questions in private, it’s significantly more challenging to conduct an honest assessment of where we stand in these areas in the presence of another man. But you need a battle buddy. This process is crucial if we want to move from inconsistency to greater maturity in our spiritual journeys. Surround yourself with friends who’ll pray for you, care for you, encourage you, and keep you on track. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens his friend’s countenance.”
Reflection: Using Wesley’s questions, how would you rate your current walk with Christ?
What would it take for you to be willing to share on this level with another man?