In the past I have had talks with various men who have hesitated to install accountability software on their phones or join accountability groups because, ironically, they fear that others will think they have something to hide. The thought process goes something likes this. If others think I need to be held accountable then they will assume I have problems too. Of course, unfortunately there is some truth in this. People do in general like to single out the dysfunctions of their peers rather than take a closer look at themselves. It’s called hypocrisy, and it’s rampant. However, regardless of what others think, the reality is that accountability is not about hiding one’s problems ... it’s about exposing one’s life to a trusted set of friends thereby reducing the likelihood of future problems.
If we confess on a regular basis our struggles with lust, financial irresponsibility, pride, or marriage we put ourselves in a position to hear truth and encouragement from others around us, who can serve as a system of support when life gets rough. Although it may be uncomfortable and opposite our natural tendencies, I’d like to challenge you to not just find accountability, but be open about it. Wear it like a badge of honor because accountability is not shameful, it’s integrity in action. Consider these three reasons I say that.
First, accountability is not about hiding problems. It’s about exposing them. There is nothing more admirable than a person who isn’t afraid to admit they have some dirty laundry. When you are authentic enough to say, “Hey, I struggle with stuff like everybody else” you show people that you aren’t afraid to be “real.” I love talking to people who “keep it real.” Why? Because I know exactly where they are coming from. I can trust what they say and that makes it more comfortable to deal with them whether it’s in business, family, or church leadership. Of course the opposite is true of those who are afraid of admitting they have flaws like everyone else. Those people I avoid. I don’t want a sugarcoated version of reality. I can’t stand a painted on smile and a weak handshake. Give me the truth ... all of it, or peddle your crap somewhere else. Guys who flaunt accountability are the one’s I want to surround myself with because I know they have nothing to hide and therefore I can trust them.
Second, as I said, accountability is a good preventive for major problems. I’m far more prone to align myself with people who practice accountability than those who don’t because I’m reducing the risk of getting sucked into someone’s moral collapse. In ministry I can’t stress this enough. Leaders who have weak systems of accountability in their lives are people I’m not following. Why? Simply because I don’t want to invest my efforts in a mission that’s headed to failure because its leaders are either too proud or too afraid to seek accountability and keep checks and balances in their life. Weak leaders don’t practice accountability. They just want to surround themselves with “yes men” because they are afraid of being challenged. Leaders like that are problems waiting to happen and I’m not putting myself in a position to feel the fallout of their bad decisions. However, a leader who’s accountable is a guy I can put some confidence in because I know he or she is mitigating the risk of compromise in their life.
Lastly, those who flaunt accountability are often good leaders. This is closely related to my previous point. Strong leaders are just that ... strong. They aren’t fearful of accountability. They don’t cringe at the idea of a challenge. Good leaders maintain strong accountability because they know that doing so reduces the chances of them leading others right off a cliff. They recognize that the wise counsel will just enhance their leadership potential, not damage it. I’m never following leaders who aren’t accountable and open about it because in my opinion they just aren’t true leaders ... they are weak people with strong opinions. Show off your accountability and set yourself apart as an individual with strong leadership potential.
These are just three reasons that I believe we need to be proud of our accountability. There are plenty more. Openness and accountability display integrity and authenticity, two things that tend to be in short supply in modern day society. Imagine if our leaders (church, political, whatever) stopped being so concerned about maintaining appearances and just stayed accountable with their decisions. I think we would all be much better off.