Leadership in the Image of God: Accountability
Read 2 Samuel 11:1-5, 27
Effective leaders use the same standards for themselves that they apply to others. They hold themselves accountable just like everyone else on the team. Maintaining such accountability involves seeking 360-degree honesty. Skilled leaders consistently receive feedback from those who work above them, beside them and for them. A failure to provide a structure for such accountability will lead to a crisis of character and leadership.
The tragedy of King David underscores what can happen when leaders fail to create a structure in which they are answerable for how they spend their private and professional time. Ultimately, as He did with David, God will hold every leader accountable.
David was the king who had it all. He enjoyed an intimate walk with God, a family, a stable political position and an unbroken string of military victories. The one thing he didn’t have was Uriah’s wife. And that was what he wanted. While the rest of his army was at war, he stayed at home. Apparently, nobody dared question the wisdom of his hiatus. With nobody to answer to he committed the acts of adultery and murder described in today’s readings.
The most important verse in the chapter is verse 27. There Samuel informs us tersely that what David had done displeased the Lord. While David could hide his sins from his associates, he couldn’t hide them from God. One day the prophet Nathan confronted David, and the king discovered that even kings are accountable for their actions.
Wise leaders don’t wait for a crisis to establish accountability. They establish structures and relationships that harness their sin and unleash their potential. Do you practice 360-degree honesty? Do you have someone to whom you are accountable for your private and professional life?
Accountability and Who God Is
If all humans and angels are accountable to God, to whom or to what is God accountable? Scripture gives an unambiguous answer: to no one and to nothing. There is no higher person or principle that God must consult before doing something. Read Romans 11:33-36 and the note below for a description of God’s ultimate authority.
Read Romans 11:33-36
The mind and ways of God are inscrutable and mysterious to us. God’s judgments are unsearchable and His paths beyond our grasp. He does not need to consult with us or explain His ways to us. Instead, it is our responsibility to trust Him and submit to His purposes for our lives even when we haven’t a clue as to where He may be leading us.
God reminded Job that He owed nothing to anyone, because it all belongs to Him anyway (Job 41:11). No one has counseled God on the proper way to order His creation. God created the world for His own good pleasure, and life is all about Him, not about us. Subhuman, human and angelic life are all derivative; all things are from Him, through Him and to Him.
On the other hand, every knee will bow before God and every tongue will confess to Him. We will each give an account of ourselves to God (Romans 14:12). If the Scriptures are true, this is an inescapable reality in spite of all human efforts to think otherwise. Wisdom, then, would counsel us to cultivate an ongoing acknowledgment of the brevity of this life (Psalm 90:12) and a growing awareness of the fact that we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and that we will each receive what is due for the things we have done while on earth, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).
How often does it occur to you that you will be compelled to give an account of your life before God? Does this have any real impact on your motivational structure? Should it?
Accountability and Who I Am
There are many ways in which we can give the appearance of accountability while avoiding its reality. What is the purpose of accountability, and why do people generally try to evade it? How many of us perceive genuine accountability as being in our own best interest, regardless of the degree of inconvenience
it may at times entail? Look at 2 Kings 5:20-27 to study the story of a man who thought he could avoid accountability.
Read 2 Kings 5:20-27
Gripped by greed, Elisha’s servant Gehazi lied to Naaman the Syrian and misrepresented his master. When Elisha confronted him, he lied once again, foolishly hoping to veil his deed from the spirit of the prophet. Because of his refusal to acknowledge his desires to Elisha, Gehazi rationalized his disobedience and failed to consider the possible consequences of his actions.
Our ability to deceive ourselves is virtually boundless; that’s why accountability is so necessary. Without submitting to the counsel of others, we can rationalize almost anything, especially if what we’re doing involves a series of small compromises. Thus, accountability is needed not so much to protect us from others, but to protect us from ourselves.
Those who say that they are accountable only to God fail to realize the spheres of human authority that God has established for our good (Hebrews 13:17). Like the centurion who told Jesus that he himself was a man under authority, with soldiers under him (Matthew 8:9), we must recognize our own need to be under the authority of others.
In what area(s) of your life do you sense the greatest need for accountability? Do you have an accountability partner, someone you trust, with whom you can be totally honest and who is willing to ask you tough questions about various areas of your life?
Accountability and How I Think
A leader needs to hold his or her followers accountable for their actions. But who holds the leader accountable? His or her peers. Peter was a leader in the early church, but he called his fellow “shepherds of God’s flock” to be accountable to one another and to God. Read 1 Peter 5:1-4 to sit in on one of the world’s first accountability groups.
Read 1 Peter 5:1-4
Peter gave these leaders some necessary counsel. He said, essentially, “As you shepherd God’s flock, remember that you, too, have a Shepherd.” The Bible urges accountability. Each person needs other good people with whom they can be honest and accountable (Ephesians 4:25; James 5:16). At their monthly meeting, one particular group asks each member to address three questions. First, what good have you done? Second, have you done anything or are you struggling with doing anything that would displease God? Third, have you told us the truth today? We all need face-to-face accountability with a few close confidants.