Stewardship requires accountability
Accountability is simply being responsible for ones actions.
The dictionary’s definition of the word “accountable” is, ‘being subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something; responsible; answerable.’
The unfaithful steward refused to take responsibility for his actions by blaming his lord, saying that he was a hard man and therefore tried to justify his failure and laziness. Blaming others for our mistakes and failures is a sure sign that we are unwilling to be accountable for our actions.
In contrast, the faithful stewards lived and worked with the sense of being held accountable for their work and actions; they knew that one day, sooner or later, their Lord would return and they would be called to give an account of what they have done with what they were given.
What does the Bible say about the subject of accountability?
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 shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14:10-12 NKJV
It is clear from the above scripture and many others in the bible that all men, both believers and unbelievers, will be held accountable by God. No one can buy his way out of this one.
Major Problem in Our Society
A major problem in our society today is the unwillingness of individuals to be held accountable. This is the mindset that says, ‘I don’t have to answer to anyone; my life is my own and I can do whatever I want and live anyway I want.’
In his study entitled Christian maturity, J. Hampton Keathley, III says the following and I quote: “Man is a rebel who wants to do his own thing without any or very little accountability for his actions. Since the fall of man (Gen. 3), this has been the case, but a worldwide phenomenon of our day is a defiance of any form of established authority whether religious or secular, social or political. This sad reality has coloured the beliefs and actions of our present society worldwide. Without a sense of accountability to a sovereign God, the world can quickly gravitate in the direction of the ruthless acts and tyranny of people like Hitler. When God either does not exist in the beliefs of men or when the truth about God is distorted into man’s own image of who and what God is like, everything is permitted, morally speaking.”
Lack of Accountability in the Church
Unfortunately, in many cases we have the same attitude within the Church. In his book, The Disciple Making Pastor, Bill Hull writes: “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 and army without authority.”
As disciples of Christ and stewards of the Lord Jesus we should live and work with the constant sense of being accountable to God and to those whom God has placed in authority over us.
I was watching television broadcast not long ago where a so called pastor made their congregation drink petrol and eat grass… Made them lie down and continually jumped on them, kicked them, made them eat mice etc., all in the name of the Lord. These folks are accountable to no one. They have not submitted themselves to any God ordained authority.
We have ministers of the gospel, as well as believers, behaving as though they are not accountable to anyone. Pastors should be accountable to their apostolic oversight as well as to their local board of elders. Believers are accountable to their shepherds and elders where their moral and spiritual life is concerned.
Not only are we accountable in spiritual and moral affairs but also to civil and governing authorities. The word of God instructs us to be subject to every governing authority: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Romans 13:1 NKJV
Accountability is something we choose
True biblical accountability is something we freely give, and choose for ourselves, rather than something which is forced upon us. No one can make you accountable. You hold yourself accountable. We do so because we recognize 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. Being what we are, sheep that are prone to wander, accountability to others is simply one of the ways God holds us accountable to Him. Left to ourselves, there is the great temptation to do mainly what we want rather than what God wants and what is best for others.
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. It takes humility on our part and recognition of our own weakness and depravity of our flesh to become accountable.”
Paul said the following in regards to his flesh: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” Romans 7:18 NKJV
The Necessity of Accountability and Why We Need It
- Accountability helps to promote biblical controls or checks and balances.
While we are all ultimately accountable to God, as stressed in Romans 14:7-12, God has established other levels of accountability to aid us in the matter of control, support, and growth. It provides the necessary discipline and support needed to see people reach godly goals.
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.
- 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, as will be demonstrated below.
- Accountability promotes servant-like leadership in keeping with the pastoral mandate to watch over the flock.
In 1 Timothy 2:2, Paul told Timothy to entrust what he had learned to a specific kind of men. To FAITHFUL men!
The fact 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 which 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.
- 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.”
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 not only means 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 task master – something completely contrary to Scripture. Rather, the goal is to help people grow in Christ and learn to find Him as the source, force and course of life.