Using Accountability to Change Bad Habits

Two months ago I shared with you, our dear Café readers, the beginning of my journey toward speaking words of grace rather than negative words. If you did not catch that post, you really, really need to go HERE and read it because today’s post will not make sense without that post. So, head on over and read it and I’ll be waiting right here.

This has not been an easy journey, because I have come to realize how often negative, critical, grumbling words fill my mouth. As a woman in ministry, I am embarrassed to have to tell you that I have failed in this area time and time again. This is basic Christianity 101, yet here I am in the Holy Spirit’s remedial class. BUT, I’m thankful that He is patient and loving with me, and that He is giving me opportunities to change.

So, in the post I linked to above, I shared about how prayer and Scripture memorization were key to my journey. Today, I want to share with you how I utilized the process of accountability in my efforts.

Remember my two friends who were the unfortunate recipients of my negative words at lunch that day? Well, the Holy Spirit instructed me to ask them if they would be willing to be my accountability partners in my journey. Here is the email that I sent to my precious friends.

Good morning,

The Holy Spirit has troubled my spirit deeply over my actions and words yesterday. I have asked for forgiveness from Him and you, and I know that I have received it. Yet, I feel there is an action that He is prompting me to take and I am coming to you for help.

I have a question for you. And please know, up front, that it is perfectly okay if you need to say no – I promise! I’m looking for some accountability *just* for the month of March in regard to making ’the words of my mouth acceptable to God’ (Psalm 19:14).

Consistently over the course of my 52 years my mouth has gotten me in trouble…not speaking the truth IN LOVE, speaking when I should not, saying things that are not kind, etc. Yesterday was evidence that I am in great need of a work of the Holy Spirit in this area. My plan is to be diligent in prayer about this and really seek God’s help in controlling my tongue every day. I recognize that my words are a choice and I must choose to not let my tongue be out of control.

I believe that if I can be focused in prayer and effort for the month of March, then controlling my words will become a habit that I can more easily continue. This is where I am asking for your help, if the Lord leads you. Would you maybe be willing to receive a very short email or text from me each morning for the month of March where I can tell you if I was successful the previous day? And if I wasn’t, I can tell you why I don’t think I was. A few sentences, max…I promise not to waste your time in this. Again, if you do not feel led or feel like you can do this, I completely understand. Thank you for considering it.

Both of my friends said “YES.” And so, beginning on March 2nd, I ‘reported in’ every morning with my success, or lack thereof, in my efforts to eliminate negative-speak from my life. It is incredible what accountability will do for an effort like this. I knew that I had to report in, and I hated like everything to have to report failure, so I was much more aware of my words throughout the day. Oh, there were a few days where the report was less than stellar, but there were also many wonderfully successful days. In fact, the successful days outnumbered the failure days by a lot.

I learned that in life there are times when negative words must be spoken simply because of circumstances, but they can be spoken without anger and hurt as their fuel. (You must be thinking, what a moron!! She didn’t know that?) I also became much more aware of my thoughts and where negativity was creeping in BEFORE those thoughts became words.

I am happy to report that speaking grace-filled words, or just keeping my mouth shut completely, happens far more often than speaking negative words these days. I still have moments when I slip and speak a negative word, but the Holy Spirit convicts me immediately and I confess my sin. I will likely be a work in progress for a while on this issue, but I’m so thankful that God took me down this path.

Once again today I want to ask you about your words…to your husband or wife…about your husband or wife? About your children…your co-workers…those with whom you attend church…the homeless person on the street…anyone and everyone.

What kind of words do you speak?

Are they anger- or hurt-driven words, or are they words of grace and care?

Leah Adams

Although I asked Jesus to come into my heart at the age of 15, I describe myself as the “prodigal son’s sister” after spending several years walking far from the Lord in my twenties. Helping others understand the grace that is offered by Jesus to anyone who will accept it is the passion of my heart. In a works-based and failure-prone society, grace is a concept that many people have difficulty grasping and my speaking and writing ministry seeks to point others straight to Jesus and his amazing grace. I live in northern Georgia with my husband, Greg, who is also my dentist. I hold a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree from Mercer University School of Pharmacy. I am also a CLASS certified speaker and the author of one devotional book and three Bible studies. Please visit me at LeahAdams.org.

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