This week, James Loke concludes on this subject as he elaborates on How Accountability Works.
Accountability is much related to openness and transparency.
Paul was voluntarily transparent in administering financial matters in 2 Corinthians 8:20-21. He wanted not only to be blameless but to be seen as blameless.
Accountability is not just dutiful reporting. It reinforces trust revives synergistic forces between a leader and his followers. Honest straightforward communication can powerfully bind team members together in the same direction and strengthen relations and trust as a leader leads the entire church to achieve what God has called the church to do.
Accountability does not mean explaining every measure implemented by the leader. In moments of crisis it is not expedient to hold meetings and explain everything. But the leader must be willing to give an account when called upon to do so at the appropriate time.
Being accountable also does not mean that a leader should sacrifice all privacy for himself and his family. The church should not make the same demands on their leaders as the public makes on movie stars or public figures. The constant nuisance by the paparazzi has not made movie stars more accountable in their behavior.
There has to be a balance and followers cannot expect or demand too much. They should be careful not to ask their leaders to account unnecessarily so that they can have freedom to lead without being bogged down by frivolous explaining.
Some other key attitudes that would help accountability in leadership are:
1 Peter 5 reminds us that a good leader sets inspiring examples instead of acting merely as a commander-in-chief. When leaders “walk the talk”, they will be inspirational.
Leaders will continually face temptation to think more highly or lowly of themselves than they are. We are all instructed by Paul to evaluate our lives with “sober judgment” in Romans 12:3. Leaders could be tempted to believe that they are above giving an account to anyone.
Accountability works best when leaders are honest. There is always the possibility that a leader will want to look good and provide justification for wrong decisions and misguided policies rather than honestly admit his fault and apologize for his mistake.
When Accountability Fails
Accountability starts to fail if a person sins, or has a besetting sin, which is not confessed and dealt with. This occurs because of the pride of the sinner who does not want his guilt exposed and because of his shame he is unwilling to honestly face his problem. As a result he has to hide his wrong behaviour. In this condition, the sinning leader finds it difficult to reveal the truth and it may take some time before it becomes apparent to those around that something is wrong. The sinning leader seems to have a compartment of his life that he is unwilling to reveal to others. If the sin continues it is likely that lies will be told to hide the truth.
Ultimately, it is very doubtful that a church should or can implement procedures or structures to enforce accountability. This is why it is very important that a leader walks in the light in fellowship with the Holy Spirit (1 John 1:5-9). The only way that these kinds of problems can be detected early is through the discernment of the Spirit. Leaders need to be empowered by the Spirit and walk close to God; only in this way can God begin to deal with sin in the camp.
Biblical leaders are required to give an account for their work and ministry. There is a 360° accountability to superiors, peers and followers although the aspects of accountability to each group are different. Leaders need to walk close to God to give a good account for their life and ministry.
We thank Ian Foley, Prakich Treetasayudh and Wilson Lim who provided valuable comments to an earlier draft of this article.