There’s no avoiding it. Sooner or later, we are all accountable. When it’s welcomed as an integral part of our lives, accountability is the very foundation of personal development and organizational health. When accountability is absent, delayed, or dysfunctional, our character, reputation, and effectiveness suffer. And when the inevitable consequences arise, weakly accountable people are surprised when their lives begin to fall apart.
Scripture is clear that there will come a day of ultimate accountability for every single person. “…for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:11–13)
So what keeps us from welcoming or inviting personal accountability?
- Sometimes we are fearful of being told the truth, or fearful of the consequences of our vulnerability, so we close off ourselves from giving and receiving much-needed, refining, character-building truth about ourselves.
- Those close to us avoid offering feedback because it doesn’t seem safe for others to tell us the truth about ourselves. We get defensive, or even go on the attack, so people just avoid even gentle words of counsel.
- Some accountability suffers when churches and organizations lack the will or processes that enable consistent feedback. It’s not a priority, so most accountability is ad hoc and inconsistent.
As a result, most people and organizations—particularly Christians—aren’t very good at holding one another accountable. This tension at times leads to frustration, inconsistency, lack of fairness. The very thing that Jesus prayed for the church—unity—is weakened or destroyed.
Yet it is in God-honoring accountability that we break down barriers to unity and build up the body of Christ. A stronger, more God-glorifying church emerges from a healthy culture of accountability. “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting, and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:11–12 NIV, emphasis mine)
In my next few blog posts I will explore with you what the Bible says about God-honoring accountability. We’ll answer the question: What should accountability look like and how can we do it well?