What makes accountability with our children have lasting results? It’s one thing for a father and son to have a few conversations that result in a temporary change in the son’s integrity. It is quite another to create a dynamic that causes the son to be open to ongoing conversations about sexuality and integrity. That’s really what we are talking about.
Lasting accountability requires a relationship between father and son that welcomes difficult conversations.
What is in the Way
In 2019 Be Broken surveyed a large group of teen boys who came from Christian homes. When we asked why kids today are afraid to talk with their parents about sex all of their answers could be summarized in these two points:
These two statements illustrate what is standing in the way of lasting father-son accountability.
Do You Understand Me?
First of all, boys are afraid that their fathers do not know what it feels like to be sexually tempted. When fathers talk to their sons we tend to talk from the head instead of the heart. Sons are left uncertain if their dad really understands how they feel.
Saying “I remember wanting to look at porn at your age” does not necessarily send the message that we really know what that feels like. That is talking from the head. Talking from the heart sounds more like this:
“When I was eleven my friends showed me porn at a sleepover. I knew I shouldn’t want to but I could not make myself look away. It made me feel something I’d never felt before and I wanted to see more.”
This kind of confession on the part of a father resonates much more with his son. This is speaking from the heart to our sons. Lasting accountability with our sons requires that we be open and honest about our own past.
Will I Get in Trouble?
Boys also worry that they will get in trouble if they admit they have already seen porn or engaged in some kind of sexual behavior. Boys can also be afraid to ask questions about sexual words they have heard and do not understand. Instead of going to Dad, they ask Google or an older friend, which rarely ends well.
The only way our sons will be honest with us is if they know it is safe to tell Dad. That means we, as fathers, have to restrain ourselves when our sons confess or ask a question we are shocked that they even thought of.
For accountability to last, our sons need to have positive experiences during accountability conversations. They need to feel supported, not judged. Here are some tips on how to make that happen.
What our sons need most is a strong relationship with their dad, or with another adult if the dad is not around. Having clear boundaries is important. Doing our best to protect our sons from sexualized content is important. But none of that will work if our sons don’t care what we say or think. Building a close relationship with our sons makes them much more likely to embrace our ideals.
My Son’s Story
This was certainly true with my son. I had been talking with him about sex and accountability since he was eleven. When he was thirteen, unbeknown to me, he had found a way to view porn. He kept this secret for a month or two before finally coming clean and confessing to me what he had been doing.
I remember how tense he looked when he told me. He was unable to look me in the face. God must have been with me that moment because the first words out of my mouth were, “I’m so glad you told me.” His body visibly relaxed and I knew I had done something right for once.
A few years later we were talking about that incident. He told me that the reason he confessed is because we had been talking about sex and porn and I had told him about my troubles with those things when I was his age.
But, he also said that if I would have gotten mad—"tore him up" were his words I believe—he would have never been honest with me about porn again. He also said if I would have acted like I didn’t care or that it was no big deal he would probably not talked to me again either. He didn’t want me to not care, but he wanted me to care about him more than the mistake he had made.
What Lasting Looks Like
Having good accountability with your son does not mean he will stop making sexual mistakes once you build a good relationship with him. He will make plenty of mistakes. There will months or even years when he isn’t very invested in accountability with you. But if you continue to reach out to him with honesty, he will never forget that and likely return to accountability in the future.
When faced with a difficult situation with our son, we can ask ourself, “What can I say or do that will build our relationship long term?” rather than, “What can I do to stop his behavior right now?” This isn’t always easy but I have found it to pay off over time. That’s what lasting father-son accountability is all about.
Written by John Fort
Director of Training
Author of Honest Talk & Father-Son Accountability
by Brian Waltmann
When I was 8 years old, my dad died of cancer, leaving a gaping hole in my heart... and in my life experience. I didn’t have a father-figure to model manhood for me, so I faltered and floundered throughout adolescence.
But God had a plan for me. When I was 20 years old, a man by the name of Charlie helped me begin a relationship with Christ and began mentoring me in my spiritual life. He taught me how to study the Bible, how to memorize scripture, how to have a quiet time, and how to pray conversationally with my Heavenly Father. In short, he taught me how to grow in my relationship with God.
Not only that, Charlie also helped me grow in character. He challenged me in my relationships with the opposite sex. He helped me grow relationally. He taught me the importance of Christian fellowship. But most of all, Charlie modeled the Christian life for me and gave me a living example of what it means to follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
So, how did Charlie help me grow in all these areas? First of all, he spent time with me. He was present in my life. We ate lunch together. We lifted weights together. We went camping and canoeing together. We went to church events together. We served together. We studied the Bible together. We prayed together. And when we were separated by distance (when I went back to school), he called me every week to see how I was doing -- and to quiz me on my scripture memory verses!
By mentoring me, Charlie became a father-figure in my life and filled many of the gaps that were left by the loss of my dad. And by God’s gracious plan, I have also had many other mentors in my life after Charlie, who had an equal impact on my growth and development. The man I am today has been largely influenced by the mentors that God has put in my life, and I am tremendously grateful!
After I had been “walking with God” for a few years, I began to mentor others, as Charlie had done with me. And by God’s grace, I have been mentoring others ever since. And it is a BLESSING! The men I have invested in are dear to me. They are my “glory and joy”! (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)
Sadly, I think that my story is quite rare. Many Christians--dare I say most Christians--have never been mentored in their faith, nor have they had the opportunity to mentor someone else.
And in the recovery realm, very few men have received personal help in their recovery from sexual struggles and strongholds.
If you would like help finding mentors or accountability partners, please search our Groups Network or check out some of the coaching links on our Counselors Page.
Whatever you do, don't try to grow alone. You and I need each other in our journey of personal growth. Step out in courage and connect with others. And if you stumble, get back up. Fail forward.
by Jonathan Daugherty
Everybody loves a good story. The drama, the suspense, the unexpected twists and turns that draw us into the characters and the momentum of the plot. We like it when good triumphs over evil and when, in the end, the guy wins the girl. Even sad stories capture us as we feel the emotion of each character as they suffer or grieve.
What seems to be consistent in all good stories is a piece of reality to which we can connect it. We like to think that what compels us to become enthralled in a really good story could somehow happen, even in the smallest sense, in our own lives.
When I was a kid I watched Superman. What a great story! Baby gets jetted off a distant planet just before it gets destroyed and lands on earth. But he isn't like other babies. No, this kid has special "gifts." He was faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound (or something like that). But his powers aren't what actually made the story great. It was his struggle with how to use his powers that drew me into the story. Would he hide his special abilities and just try to fit into this foreign culture of human beings? Or would he use his powers for selfish gain? (What guy hasn't wished for x-ray vision?) But he knows deep inside that such gifts are to be used for good, to save lives and resist evil. That makes the story great, and is why I would wear a cape, pretend I was flying and "become" Superman.
We don't just love good stories. We want to be part of a good story. We all want what the good stories offer: a spark that moves others to respond. We want our lives to compel someone to "put on a cape" and emulate the good we are striving for. But a problem arises when we engage this pursuit? We discover we can't achieve good or offer the "perfect story" for others to admire. And rather than continuing our search to be part of a great story, we give up, tuck our head, and resolve that Clark Kent is as close to the dream we can get. But I believe there is another way, a way you and I can be part of the best story.
Superman is cool and did some pretty wild stunts, like reversing the earth's rotation to "rewind" time. (if you're a physicist, please don't write me explaining how that could never accomplish this) But while Superman is cool, he's got nothing on Jesus. (also, Superman isn't real...) Jesus created the heavens and the earth, raised men from the dead, walked on water, fed thousands with a handful of fish and bread, and made a way for us to be part of His story -- forever.
Jesus' story is the most compelling of all, and it started a bit like Superman's story. Jesus left His place in heaven to be born as a baby on earth. He came on a mission to save human beings from the deadly effects of sin (separation from God). He was tempted to use His power for selfish gain and abandon His mission. But He chose to complete His mission and sacrifice Himself to pay the penalty that we all owed to God for our sin. Upon completing His mission He then offered to us the simplest way possible to cross from death (where sin leads) to life (what Jesus brought through the cross): faith. Everyone who believes in Jesus becomes part of a new story, one with a great ending.
But what about your story to this point? Does it matter? Is it worth telling? Absolutely! No matter what your story includes, it matters. It may not seem compelling to you, or interesting, or dramatic, or mysterious, or anything that resembles a blockbuster Hollywood hit. But you are precious to God, so much so that even before you took your first breath He was "reading" your story. With rapt attention, I might add. He loves you, total story included.
Here at Be Broken Ministries we value story. It matters immensely to us when a person takes that courageous step to spill their guts and share their story. A story of pain, secrets, sin, betrayal, lust, anger, shame, everything. Nervously, they dip their toes in the water, wondering if a shark is circling, just waiting to devour them once they jump in all the way.
But there is no shark, only regular people who desire healing for broken souls drowning in the dark. As more and more of their story bursts forth, the Light of Jesus cascades into hidden places in their soul and a new sense of hope and freedom and direction is realized. Could it be that the way out of their terrible bondage might come by way of telling their story? It seems too simple, so it must not be. How could sharing a story matter that much?
"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." (Rom. 10:17)
No one comes to God without faith. And no one acquires faith without hearing God's story. What a picture. The God of all things telling us a story. A story that changes everything. But what moves me most about this picture is that after God tells His story, He sits quietly, patiently, and says to us, "Tell me your story."
For some of you, He is still waiting. And He is still interested...
Because your story matters...
by Jonathan Daugherty
I have been reading through the book of Nehemiah again. I get charged up every time I read this book. It paints a great picture of what rebuilding a broken down life should look like. I want to point out 6 key principles that are fundamental to building a life of purity, even in the midst of growing cultural and spiritual opposition.
When Nehemiah heard that his countrymen were scattered and the walls of Jerusalem were broken down and the gates burned, he wept. He mourned for days the condition of God's people and the holy temple. In his sorrow, he prayed to God and confessed on behalf of all his people for the great sins of disobedience and rebellion they had sinned against God. His heart was broken and his response was one of confession and surrender before the only One who could effect true change.
In order to rebuild a life broken by the sin of lust, one must come to a place of sorrow and brokenness. This requires an honest look into the soul, seeing how the walls around the heart have been broken down and the gates meant for staving off the attacks of the enemy lie in burned piles of rubble. Upon realizing the true condition of your life, the only appropriate response that affords the possibility of recovery and purity is brokenness, a falling down before God in humble confession, acknowledging that He alone is the source of strength that can rebuild your shattered life.
Brokenness is the first, and most critical, step to building a life of purity.
Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king of Persia, Artaxerxes. After hearing the news of his people, Nehemiah was called out by the king who wanted to know why he looked so sad. This was not something a servant of the king would want, as it wasn't uncommon in those days for a subject to be killed simply for the king being in a bad mood. When the king noticed Nehemiah's downcast face, this caused quite a bit of fear to stir in Nehemiah.
But Nehemiah displayed great courage by not covering up his sadness, or succumbing to his fears, but rather speaking honestly with the king about his broken heart over the state of his people's city. The king's response to this courageous confession was to ask Nehemiah what he wanted. Nehemiah's courage earned him the support of the king and all his resources.
Courage is essential to building a life of sexual purity. It can be scary to look at the brokenness and shame of your sexual sins. You might feel very small and inadequate, not even knowing where to begin or how you could possibly leave you old patterns of thinking and behaving. This is where courage comes in. Courage is not the absence of fear. Rather, it is resolve to pursue what is right despite fear.
The good news for the Christian is that when we face our sin and brokenness in the light of God's grace, we are able (even encouraged), to approach God for help. So, instead of trying to figure out all the answers on your own, why not take a courageous step toward the One who has all the resources necessary to help you overcome your lust - for good.
Vision & A Plan
Nehemiah's sadness over Jerusalem's pitiful state didn't end with him throwing a colossal pity party and then doing nothing about it. He had pondered the state of his people, seeking God's comfort and guidance for what he must do in response to his broken heart. So, when the king called him out to tell of his sadness, he wasn't unprepared when he received a supportive response from the king. He had a vision and he had a plan.
His response to the king was very specific and very detailed. His vision was to see the name of God exalted by rebuilding the ruins of Jerusalem. His focus was intense. He did not hesitate to lay out his plans before the king. He would travel to Jerusalem for a specific amount of time to rebuild it. He even had planned on what to do concerning surrounding regions that might not take kindly to his project. He was prepared for the possibility of help and success.
"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."
The vision we must capture comes from the heart of God. He desires us to be people of purity, faithfully following him in everything. But what are you doing about the plan? It's easy to understand and even "catch" the vision, but there is work involved in fulfilling that vision. Planning requires time, thinking, counsel, drafts, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Don't be deceived into thinking that a life of purity comes with little or no effort. While all the tools and resources are provided by God, we are given the task of taking them up and using them. He doesn't swing the hammer for us. Get your plan in place and then get to work.
Jerusalem was surrounded by regions that had governors that were not pleased with Nehemiah's plans. They viewed this rebuilding project as a political, and possibly even a military, threat. They also thought it was a silly idea that the Jews wouldn't be able to accomplish, as they viewed them as inferior and weak (just like the rubble of their broken city walls). Shortly after Nehemiah rallied the people to begin working on rebuilding, the project came under attack by the surrounding governors. This, however, did not deter Nehemiah.
Instead of calling off the rebuilding project because of mounting opposition, Nehemiah encouraged the people to simply guard what they were building. Gatekeepers were posted, guards were on watch day and night, and even the workers carried a tool in one hand and weapon in the other. Their vision was right, their plan was solid, and their focus was steely. They were willing to fight to accomplish the great task God called them to.
You will face resistance in your pursuit of purity. If you don't adopt a fighters spirit, you will fall and drift back to the darkness of your lust. Satan hates the work of those seeking to fulfill God's vision of purity and godliness. But rather than giving up or running away, simply carry a tool in one hand a pick up a weapon in the other. Don't run. Stand and fight!
Intolerance for impurity
When the work of rebuilding Jerusalem was completed, the people gathered and renewed their vows to God and read from the book of the Law. They consecrated themselves to purity, removing anything from their homes or the temple that would be offensive to God. They acknowledged that the work they completed was done so by the mercy of God, and they committed themselves to once again turn to God in humble obedience.
But people have a tendency to drift, right? It wasn't too long until their vows weren't fulfilled and they began to even intermarry with some foreigners. But Nehemiah didn't forget the vision, the call of sanctification God had for his people. So, he "rebuked them and called curses down on them. [He] beat some of the men and pulled out their hair." (Neh. 13:25) He was unwilling to compromise before God and therefore defile the name of the Lord of glory.
If you embark on the difficult task of building a life of purity, embracing the vision, forming a plan, fighting against the attacks, you engage in a good thing. But be careful of growing complacent, thinking that because you have lived in the new "city" for a while that you don't have to keep watch against the subtle drift that comes with being human. Instead, grow increasingly intolerant of any sort of impurity of any kind from infiltrating your new life. And surround yourself with trusted friends who are unafraid to rebuke you (hopefully, you won't drift so far that a beating and hair-pulling is in order).
Nehemiah was given a vision for God's people. He carried out the plan of God in a remarkable fashion. The work was accomplished, God's name was exalted, the people rejoiced. But Nehemiah, in all the work, was looking beyond simply building walls and restoring a city. He was focused on eternity. His desire to do God's will was not simply for the present satisfaction of seeing God's people restored, but also that he would be found before God as a faithful follower. Faithfulness is a hallmark of being a servant of God.
Nehemiah prayed, "Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services." Nehemiah's desire was that God would remember him, observing his obedience and finding pleasure in it. This is what a faithful servant's attitude looks like, praying that God will see the heart behind what we do, that it is consumed and devoted to the glory of the Holy One.
Building a life of purity requires faithfulness. But this faithfulness is not primarily to the vision or the tools or the weapons to fight resistance. This faithfulness must be to Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. With our eyes and hearts fixed on Him, we will fulfill the vision, complete the task, and rejoice in the smile of our King.