For a while, I have been contemplating the differences between accountability, rebuking, and encouraging. I am still researching but this is what has emerged interesting.
The Greek verb for "rebuke" appears in 2 Tim. 4:2, where rebuking is a function of the authoritative Christian teacher alongside preaching, convincing and encouraging in “the teaching." Accountability, however, is not a job assigned to Christian leaders. We will be expected to give an account to God for everything we have done (Heb. 4:13). The two words are the not the same in meaning or in function. It would probably more precise to say that people need "rebuking" partners instead of "accountability" partners. Ouch!
Accountability is a personal decision to submit and confess your sins to a trusted friend. Rebuking is giving a trusted friend the ability to "call you" on areas in which God would not be pleased. No one can hold you accountable because that is your responsibility. We make the internal choice to be accountable to others.
The Greek word for encouragement deserves a separate blog and a unique word study. Suffice to say, encouraging is one of the most God honoring exercises in which one can engage.
The following list of questions is from Cultivating a Life for God (Church Smart Resources 1999 p.125-131). Typically, these questions are asked in groups of 2-3, are specific to men or women, meets regularly, and hold each other accountable. Simply asking these questions encourages accountability with others:
1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am?
2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
3. Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?
4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work , or habits?
5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
6. Did the Bible live in me today?
7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?
8. Am I enjoying prayer?
9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?
10. Do I pray about the money I spend?
11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
12. Do I disobey God in anything?
13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
16. How do I spend my spare time?
17. Am I proud?
18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?
19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?
20. Do I grumble and complain constantly?
21. Is Christ real to me?