Accountability is simply being responsible for one’s actions.
The dictionary defines accountability as being subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something; being responsible; answerable.
If we look at The Parable Of The Talents in Matthew 25:15-18, we see:
- The faithful and productive stewards lived and worked with the sense of accountability. They knew that one day their Lord would return and they would have to give an account of what they have done with what they were given.
The unfaithful steward was unaccountable as he refused to take responsibility for his actions blaming his master for his failures.
- Scripture is very clear on the subject; one day we will all stand before the judgement seat of Christ and give an account of our lives and what we have done here on earth with what we were given.
- As Disciples of Christ we are accountable not only to God but to other levels of accountability including social and civil authorities.
- Accountability is something we give to God and others rather than something that is forced upon us. We choose to hold ourselves accountable because we have come to understand the value of it.
Keathley defines the practice and exercise of accountability as follows:
“By accountability, we are not talking about coercive tactics, the invasion of privacy, or bringing others under the weight of someone’s manipulative or dominating tactics.
Rather, by accountability we mean developing relationships with other Christians that help to promote spiritual reality, honesty, obedience to God, and genuine evaluations of one’s walk and relationship with God and with others.
We are talking about relationships that help believers change by the Spirit of God and the truth of the Word of God through inward spiritual conviction and faith.
So what do we mean by accountability? We are talking about teaching, exhorting, supporting, and encouraging one another in such a way that it promotes accountability to Christ and to others in the body of Christ, but never by manipulation or domination.”
The Necessity of Accountability and why we need it:
1. Accountability helps to promote Biblical checks and balances. It provides the necessary discipline and support needed to see people reach godly goals.
While we are all ultimately accountable to God, God has established other levels of accountability to aid us in the matter of control, support, and growth.
In his book, “Covenant relationships”. Keith Intrater writes the following on the subject:
“What is surprising is not that there could be sin, greed, immorality, or mismanagement among leaders and ministers of the Gospel: men can sin, and it is within the scope of our serving together that we can forgive one another.
The underlying problem of the ministry has not been the sin itself, but the absence of relationships around those in the ministry.
They needed some level of accountability or mutual support to work themselves out of the difficulties. They needed the help of faithful companions. Anyone can sin, and anyone can fall into problems. It is one of the aspects of developing our relationships with one another that we are safeguarded from having years worth of ministry topple down in a moment because the ministry has outgrown its base of relational support.”
God has given the Word and the Holy Spirit as His agents of control to help provide direction and controls on our lives, but accountability to other believers becomes another key instrument to aid in bringing about self-discipline and inner controls.
2. Accountability is necessary because, like sheep, we tend to go our own way. We are all self-willed. We want to protect our comfort zones and avoid having to deal with certain issues that are important to becoming obedient Christians, which is one of the goals of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20).
Making disciples means teaching others to obey the Lord and this is very difficult without some measure of accountability. Accountability is part of the means God uses to mould a Christ like character in us.
Bill Hull said in his book ‘The Disciple Making Pastor’
“To believe you can make disciples or develop true maturity in others without some form of accountability is like believing that you can raise children without discipline, run a company without rules, or lead an army without authority.”
3. Accountability promotes servant-like leadership in keeping with the pastoral mandate to watch over the flock (Eph. 4:11; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:1-4).
One of the key requirements of a servant leader is faithfulness to the things entrusted to him (1 Cor. 4:1-2).
In 1 Timothy 2:2, Paul told Timothy to entrust what he had learned to what kind of men? To faithful men.
The fact that he was to selectively train only faithful men suggests accountability. Is it not a strange paradox that we generally accept accountability in most aspects of life as something that is necessary, but when it comes to the body of Christ, many fight accountability, especially, if it begins to affect their comfort zones or their self-willed agendas.
4. Accountability is protective to both leaders and to the flock. The Biblical model for church leadership is a collective leadership of elders, which provides a structure for genuine accountability.
Shared, brotherly leadership provides needed restraint on pride and greed. Multiple leaders, therefore, will serve as a ‘check and balance’ on each other and serve as a safeguard against the very human tendency to play God over other people.
Shared leadership provides close accountability, genuine partnership, and peer relationships – the very things imperial pastors shrink from at all costs.
As to the flock, Hebrews 13:17 tells the flock to submit to their leaders because they keep watch over the souls of God’s people. People too often understand this primarily in a negative way, but keeping watch means not only correcting people when they fail to walk with the Lord, but helping them to do so.
The goal of accountability is not riding herd over people like a taskmaster – something completely contrary to Scripture. Rather, the goal is to help people grow in Christ and learn to find Him as the source and force and course of life
Illustrations and types of accountability
Within the Church, the body of Christ, there are a number of illustrations of the form in which accountability may take shape in the process of making disciples.
- Paul with Timothy and Titus
If we each had a Timothy or a Titus, someone we are giving ourselves to, someone we are helping to grow, someone we are responsible for and who is responsible to us, certainly we would see a great deal more spiritual maturity and obedience.
- Paul and Barnabus
Paul had a Barnabus (a son of encouragement) with whom he could identify. Paul could go to him with problems and discouragement. He was someone with whom he could pray, or from whom he could get counsel, guidance, and encouragement. He was someone to give another viewpoint or perspective. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
- A team or small group
This is not just a prayer group or a Bible study, but a small group of men or women with whom to interact, share ideas, pain, burdens, and victories. It is a small group like the disciples of the Lord or like a board of elders, those with whom we can pray and discuss the Word together without fear of rejection.
- Marriage illustrates another place where accountability takes place
If we are married we need to develop our relationship with our spouses so we can share our problems and concerns with each other, discuss them, and get honest input without fear of rejection.
- The local church
The local church consists of overseers, those who are to be responsible for and accountable to the flock, and there is the flock, those who are to be accountable and responsible to their leaders as Hebrews 13:17 teaches.
- The Godhead.
Finally, The Son Himself, though God of very God, is subject to or accountable to the Father (1 Cor. 11:3; 3:23; 15:24-28).
Are you accountable? Do you have a friend to whom you can go? Will that person hold you accountable in your spiritual walk? Are you the type of person that people can come to when they need accountability? Do you want a Christian accountability partner?