Book Review: Open: What Happens When You Get Real, Get Honest and Get Accountable

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What Happens When You Get Real, Get Honest, and Get AccountableBy Craig Gross, with Adam Palmer
Published by Thomas Nelson

Growing up in the church, I've heard the word "accountability" tossed around in a number of different contexts. Accountability partners, accountability small groups, etc seemed to be all the rage in my church throughout middle school and high school. These meetings usually involved a gathering of students in the same grade and gender, and we were encouraged to share our life struggles with one another. While a lot of fun and some support happened during those groups, I wouldn't quite call it accountability. Not in the purest sense of the word, at least. 

Author Craig Gross does an excellent job of laying down the case for the accountability: our need for it in society, in our relationships, in our churches-- in everything. He gives multiple examples from both sides of the coin-- those who have sought and accepted accountability from others and those who have recklessly lived their lives without anyone to keep them in check. Its no mystery that if left to our own devices, sin will rule our hearts. But when we desire a deeper relationship with Christ, and truly seek to live life to its fullest, accountability for our recurring sins is a natural by-product of that commitment. 

A large portion of this book is devoted to reasons we need accountability. While I agreed completely with everything the author wrote about this subject, it seemed a little bit redundant at times. Or perhaps it is because I grew up with the concept already ingrained in my lifestyle. If accountability is a completely new and foreign concept to someone, I can see how this portion of the book would be helpful. Craig Gross does a good job of presenting what accountability is and is NOT. Like I mentioned before, accountability can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, and I greatly appreciated his concept and blue plan, if you will, for what effective accountability should look like. Gross writes, "... accountability is not about sitting across from someone as a judge, but about sitting next to him as an advocate." All too often, we shy away from accountability for fear of being judged, when in fact, judging should have no place in an accountable relationship. Its about restoring and renewing a person, and encouraging them to continually battle the struggles in their lives.

I do have to say there was one part of the book which I really did not care for, and that was Gross's take on small groups. I believe he was trying to make the point that a small group (usually sponsored by your church, consisting of couples or others in your similar life stage) is not the place for nitty-gritty accountability. I agree with that, recognizing that its hard for a husband to talk about his pornography addiction or in front of other mens' wives (or something like that), but I do feel the way in which he talked about small groups as a whole was very unfair. He has obviously not had a good experience with any small group, and as such, I believe he's unqualified to make some of the negative statements he did about small groups as a whole. I have been part of both good and bad small groups. But here's the deal: the thing that made them good or bad had nothing to do with the concept of a small group or even the other people involved... it had entirely to do with ME and where my heart was. We are currently in a small group that is an extension of several other accountability relationships that I have. While we may not go into detail, our small group is striving to become a place where accountability in our marriages, parenting, spiritual life, etc is something we strive for. This looks different than a one on one or smaller group accountability, but it is a continuation of that. *OK, off my soap box.*

Overall, the book is a good read and can be valuable for someone who is looking to establish an accountability relationship with someone else. It would be a good book for accountability partners or groups to read together, so as to all be on the same page. Authenticity and honesty is crucial, so having everyone on the same page is a good place to start. 

I was given a copy of this book by BookSneeze in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

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