Are You A Productive Sheep?

“Accountability breeds response-ability.” Stephen R. Covey

I fear accountability. There, I’ve said it.

I need it; but I avoid it.

It hasn’t always been so. Early in my time at Bethel College (Indiana), I was invited to join a group called the Writers’ Accountability Network (WAN). You can still see me and the group here.

Members of WAN began each month by sharing their goals for the next four weeks. At the end of that time, we all reported on our success—and where we didn’t quite measure up. In between, we encouraged each other.

I’ve never completed so much writing! In fact, while a member of that group I wrote the first draft of my novel.

What happened?
As I took on more responsibilities professionally—a good thing—I soon found myself over-committed—a bad thing—and left the group.

I’ve worked on the novel sporadically since then, never with the intensity and commitment of those days.

It’s time to again seek the accountability I need to be productive. The benefit WAN provided was that of Proverbs 27:17: “You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another” (The Message). The fight for productivity won’t be easy; but I’m determined.

I need to make changes. I need to embrace, again, the power of being a good sheep.

Setting boundaries
The biblical idea of Jesus as our shepherd and us as His sheep has always resonated with me. I have sheepy tendencies. In WAN, we were all sheep within the same pen. The fences (goal-setting, accountability, encouragement, and reporting) helped us be good sheep together.

What fences can I build now to get back that level of accountability?

Fence 1—Television: I can’t give up it up entirely, but can I use the hour or two I’d normally give to American Idol for writing? (Can’t give up Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy—that’s good writer TV. Besides my wife and I enjoy watching them together.)

Fence 2—Social media: It’s time to wrestle my email and Facebook addictions to the ground. There’s a place for both, but too much of a good thing can be a problem.

Fence 3—Mornings: While in WAN I got up early to write for an hour before reporting to my job—and it worked. I completed the first draft. I need to repair the holes in this fence.

Fence 4—Accountability: This is the gate to my sheep pen. I need to find a writing partner, another sheep, who will make sure I do what I say I’m going to do—and who’ll cut me no slack when I don’t.

I have a person or two in mind, but if you think you’re the sheep I’m looking for, send me an email: opusmle (at) gmaildotcom. I’ll get baa-ck to you.

What do you do for accountability?

Michael Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. He has written for newspapers and other print and online outlets. He edited several nonfiction books, was the senior editor for a faith-based financial services and insurance organization, and is the ezine editor for American Christian Fiction Writers.