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Is accountability biblical?

I remember Ray (WT Africa) asking that question during a gathering of workers. The ‘right’ answer was probably on everyone’s lips.  However, it is a whole lot harder to own that answer than to just answer ‘yes’ to such a question

What can we learn about accountability from several biblical texts?accountable

For one, we learn that it involves an act of the will: “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Accountability flows out of a commitment to open one’s life to another; to give another the right to ask one hard questions.

For another, we learn that it involves the giving of an account, the giving of a progress status on our inner life and work: “Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them” (Matthew 25:19) As in the parable, we know that one day God will ask for an accounting of our lives (Matthew 12:36-37) and that He encourages us to practice that accountability with one another in our lives now (Galatians 6:1-2).

Finally, we learn that it is for our good: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs27:17) Accountability is not a ‘bad’ word.  Accountability causes us to grow in our Christian walk as others come alongside us and speak into our lives.

So where is the problem? Where is the blockage that keeps many of us from owning accountability as well as believing that it is essential to our Christian walk?

It could be that some of us feel we are above accountability.  In other words, we believe that accountability is important, but it is something to which we need only to call others.  We believe, somehow, we no longer need accountability, because of our years of ministry experience.

It could be that covenant accountability is just plain hard. Being accountable to someone in a work (business) context appears easier as our very job and salary depend on it. However, covenant accountability requires an act of the will to open ourselves to others; something many of us don’t like to do.

It could be that many of us don’t realize the benefits that come from being accountable to another. For most of our life, accountability has been the major element towards growth. As we recognize that truth, we will develop a healthier attitude and respect for accountability.

Accountability is biblical … and really is for our good.

4 Responses

  1. Good admonition, David. Another verse that promotes the value of accountability is Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom.” If mutual admonishing is going on, that means we are humbly listening to each other, welcoming and even seeking feedback from others. “One another” implies that social status isn’t taken into consideration. Men welcome admonishment from women; adults from children; directors from members; missionaries from nationals. This isn’t so much a formally agreed upon accountability relationship, but an organic, spiritual act that humility simply cultivates.

    • It seems easier to have ‘imposed’ organizational accountability. But in reality that doesn’t issue in true growth and development. Cultivating this “chosen” accountability takes risk; the risk to let others speak into one’s life, asking hard questions about how we are doing, what we are doing and what are our motivations. Thanks Sean for entering the conversation!

      • Yes, chosen accountability is risky and can be uncomfortable, but I can’t imagine choosing a more “protective” posture. I realize people get burned and hurt and they want to protect themselves from further pain, but that path is just a slow death. I think we must trust our Risen Lord to heal our wounds and fill our hearts with love so that we dare to open ourselves again (1Cor 13:7-8). Otherwise we’re shooting ourselves in the foot in term of ministry effectiveness and cutting ourselves off from sources of spiritual renewal. That’s more dangerous than taking the risk to open ourselves to honest feedback.

      • I like the way you put it: “cutting ourselves off from sources of spiritual renewal”. These are means by which God grows us and sanctifies us.

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