One of the hardest things in my college churchgoing experience was finding friends who could keep me accountable in my spiritual walk. I was involved in small groups and I had an accountability partner, but these relationships felt only an inch deep – we all knew a lot about each other, but other than prayer (which is admittedly of prime importance), we did little about it.
On the other hand, the easiest thing to find was an accountability partner for working out. I think I could throw penny in any direction on campus and find a guy willing to scream at me and otherwise push me to grow big, hulking muscles, while I did the same for him. I certainly know that my best friend was constantly haranguing me to work out with him, and when we did, he was excellent and helping me push beyond my limits.
One reason I like to watch sports anime series is that I like to see this form of camaraderie where teammates do whatever is necessary to help each other grow. They hold each other accountable and are very confrontational about doing so – they won’t let their teammates get away with anything less than 100%.
In Suzuka, Miki is the one who best plays the role of track accountability partner for Yamato, encouraging him constantly to continue working hard. Suzuka, the captains, and the other athletes also demonstrate this influence throughout the series.
Man, wouldn’t it be great if we cared enough about each other to hold one another spiritually accountable? Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had friends surrounding us that said, “You’re prayer life stinks – you need to do better. How can I help push you do become a prayer warrior?”
Maybe you do have those friends. Or maybe you’re like me, skimming just below the surface of casual friendship and above the depths of BFF-dom.
The real difference between a good, solid friendship among Christians and one where each holds the other accountable is this: love. After all, if you love someone, you’ll do whatever it takes to help them be all that they can.
What about you? Do you have relationships like this in your church? Or do you have relationships like this outside of the church and spiritual context?
4 thoughts on “Call to Accountability from Anime Sports Shows”
The Catholic Church has two great means for doing this: confession and spiritual directors–though, not everyone has a spiritual director. Any time one commits a mortal sin, one must go to confession before receiving Holy Communion. Of course, confession does not really cover how well one does spiritual practices, but if one finds oneself committing the same sins over and over again or having to abstain from communing, it signals that one needs to be more responsible.
I used to have a spiritual director, and it helped a little. But, I probably held back too much information for it to be really effective, which is always a problem.
There’s not official type of spiritual director in western Protestant churches (none that I know of), but I had an “accountability partner” for a while during college. It was the same here – the more I held back, the less effective it was. For me, even more significantly, the less likely I was to take his advice and repent, well, the less of an effect the relationship had on my spiritual walk.
I’m part of one of my church’s cell groups, the idea being that the group is supposed to hold you accountable for your actions, but maybe because it’s a group thing, it feels very confrontational, singling any one person out. Also, there’s a fine line between judgement and rebuking that we all need to be aware of, and challenging someone spiritually is so much more personal than challenging someone on what they eat, or how many times they go to the gym a week- it’s a huge part of your identity. Because of that I think it’s a lot more difficult to hold someone spiritually accountable than for, say, working on building up their fitness. But if challenging someone could help them mature, spiritually, perhaps it’s worth taking that risk of offending them?
Ty-chama, thanks for the great comments! You’re right in that there’s a big distinction between spiritual health and other kinds of “self improvement.”
I do think you also bring up a great point about challenging someone, even if it offends them. And I think we really must do that, even though it’s uncomfortable. That said, we can certainly go into such a talk with a loving attitude, and it certainly helps if we’ve developed a loving relationship with that person, possibly helped along through the intimacy of cell groups.