Book Review: Open by Craig Gross

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The first time I heard the word accountability was shortly after high school. A good friend of mine asked me if I wanted to be accountability partners with him. This meant that we would talk about the deeper things that boil beneath the surface; things that most hold tightly to themselves. I am not sure if I was scared or what, but I quickly declined his invitation. I did not want anyone getting closer. I was an island.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent…

– No Man Is An Island, John Donne

Open, by Craig Gross, is a book that encourages living a life in accountability to another. The book is divided into three parts:

  1. Part 1: Why accountability is…(Good, Safety, Deep, Necessary)
  2. Part 2: What you need…(Honesty, Courage, Help)
  3. Part 3: How – Get…(Involved, Intimate, Effective)

Open by Craig Gross

The Good:

Starting in Chapter 8, I love how Craig breaks down exactly how to establish an accountability relationship and exactly what that looks like. He talks about the small things such as:

  • Picking someone of the same gender.
  • Finding someone you are compatible with (preferably someone who knows you).
  • Having an accountability partner whose views are slightly different than your own (this way you avoid someone who is simply going to be a yes-man and will instead challenge you).
  • Choosing someone who you can trust. I have found point to be especially true. If you don’t trust your accountability partner you will never go below the surface conversations that you have with everyone else.
  • Taking into consideration whether you want someone in the same stage of life (income, age, marital status, kids, etc.) as yourself.

Though Craig’s background is primarily in dealing with pornography through XXXChurch, in Chapter 9 he goes beyond porn in asking, “What are you seeking accountability for?” (p146). This is a fantastic question because accountability can be for almost anything from exercise to the spiritual discipline of reading the Bible. I know that when I hear the word accountability I automatically think of someone needing to overcome some sort of terrible sin.

Finally, in Chapter 10, Craig discusses scheduling, deciding on a meeting place, and what the format for an accountability meeting looks like.

“Honesty can be spontaneous, but spontaneity often arises from planning.” (p171)

He suggests:

  • Five minutes of small talk
  • An opening prayer
  • A series of staple questions you ask each other each week (“How was your week? Were you honest and truthful in all you did? State one lie you have told someone in this past week or a secret you are keeping from someone else or the group.” (p173))
  • Asking specific questions that apply directly to you (Did you steal from the cookie jar?)
  • Closing prayer
  • Further discussion/ small talk
  • Close

The Bad:

I dislike the tone that Craig writes with at the beginning of Open. The first few chapters paint a picture of a man who is all about self promotion/himself. This turned me off to the book and caused me to skim until I found material that was actually helpful and worth reading (the back half/practical end of the book). This is a shame as I can see this as a turn off to other readers.

In Closing:
Despite a poor beginning, Open features useful discussion on the why’s, how’s, and what’s of going beyond the personal island and seeking out others to walk through life with.

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

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