Everyday, whether in the news, in the church, in our personal lives, we are confronted with the issue of accountability- or more specifically, the lack of it. Another politician, a pastor, an organization, a business, a professional athlete, etc., has been found out in respect to unscrupulous, unethical, or immoral behavior. Just recently a certain politician was caught sending crude pictures via twitter; another priest was just jailed for sexual abuse; businesses seem to constantly be in the news for putting profits ahead of people. Where’s the accountability, and why does there seem to be such a lack of it?
I’ve longed suggested that you can’t make anyone accountable, and certainly, trying to legislate accountability may be helpful, but ultimately we all break the rules- most likely you went over the speed limit today, and, if not, you know you will, whether purposefully or not! The problem with rules and regulations is that as necessary as they are, they tend to only reveal just how unaccountable we truly are. It seems we’re all wired for trying to find a way around them, to fudge the line a little here or there, to see just how close we can get to the edge without actually going over it. Why do we seem to be so determined to do the things we shouldn’t do and not do the things we should do??
The Bible actually speaks very loudly on this subject, primarily through Paul. For example, in respect to the Law, Paul says it only reveals how sinful we are (See Romans 3:20-23)! In terms of our struggle with what is morally wrong or right, Paul states there’s a war going on inside us, essentially between good and evil (picture the little angel on one shoulder and a little devil on the other and you get the point); one wants to help you the other wants to hurt you and a lot of other people in the process (see Galatians 5)! So again, how does accountability work?
Accountability is given. Since other people can’t make me accountable, even though they can demand it, even expect it from me, in the end, I must be committed to being accountable. I’ve seen too many situations, where someone had an “accountability partner”, but wasn’t at all accountable. Why? Because it’s too easy to lie about the questions! “You and your wife doing well?” “Of course!” “Have you been tempted this week?” “No way!” Without making yourself accountable at the very core of your being; giving an account of your life openly and honestly to others- your spouse, your children, other appropriate leaders, etc., you’re not only headed to the edge, you may be over it already!
Accountability is relational. I’ve already stated you can’t legislate accountability. We break the laws… but we’re less apt to, if we have right relationships with people; people we love and respect far too much to ever hurt or create difficulty for their lives in any way. To me, all right relationships are formed by a focused, ongoing, developing, right relationship with Jesus Christ- that will produce accountability essentially because you don’t want to lose it with God. We need right relationships with others too that are “right”- right because they are based on truth, transparency, and trust, that are all consistently lived out over time. The lack of relational accountability is actually a profound indicator of 1) a lack of loving others more than yourself, and 2) looking out for your own interests (wants) more than the interests (needs) of others, and 3) living a lie in some area of your life!
Accountability is Christ. If you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ in any context, leadership or otherwise, then accountability is who you are. Accountability in Jesus’ life on earth was never a meeting, or a form to be filled out, or mere questions to be answered. It was his attitude, it was a core characteristic of his life, it was HOW he lived. Every action, every conversation, every motive, was completely and totally lived out in the context of honoring the purpose and plans of the Father. Accountability was given and it was relational; and it was what defined Jesus in every respect. His word was his word. There were no secrets because there was nothing to hide- just the opposite, he came to reveal everything! His relationships were all about what love is supposed to look like and be like. That’s accountability; living and loving like you’re supposed to as a follower of Jesus Chrst.
Admittedly, it’s always a challenge- for me, and for you. It’s an every day, day in and day out, determination and dedication to accountability. It’s giving it, honoring your relationships by sustaining it, and simply living it.