There was a man who had a passion for the Lord. He started a church in his basement and watched it reach a membership of 2,100 in his 28 years of leadership. It looked like he had it all – a loving wife and two children, a large church body, and a close relationship with the Lord. What Paul Barnes lacked was accountability.
In a 2006 scandal, Barnes resigned from the church and admitted to having sexual relations with other men. He told his church members in a videotaped message: “I have struggled with homosexuality since I was a 5-year-old boy…I can’t tell you the number of nights I have cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this away.”
This is just one of many well-known scandals of Christian leaders.
How do we prevent this from happening? We all struggle with sin and are tempted in different ways, but God has given us the tools necessary to fight sin and to have victory in Him!
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
We have been given God’s Word for direction, prayer for God’s power, but the one this article is all about is accountability. No matter who you are or how strong your Christian walk is, accountability is important. Accountability motivates us to live a life worthy of our calling. We must be committed to take responsibility for our actions. There are many reasons why there is a lack of accountability among Christians.
Reasons we don’t want to be accountable:
- Arrogance, pride, or self-sufficiency
- We know we’re doing something wrong
- Fear of exposure
- Fear of rejection
Exposing our sins to another can seem humiliating and embarrassing, but the advantages of accountability are numerous. Of course, it takes humility and trust, and sharing oneself with another will not only promote those qualities, but build them.
Advantages of accountability:
- Promotes integrity
- Guards us against turning our freedom into a license to do wrong
- Sharpens our skills
- Promotes a healthy self-examination
- Protects us from unwise relationships
- Promotes a godly attitude and godly spirit
Of course, it is not wise to make just anyone your accountability partner. He/she must have a strong relationship with the Lord and should not struggle with the same sin you struggle with. Consider the following:
The ideal accountability partner:
- One who is walking in the Spirit
- One who will be trustworthy with your confidence
- One who will give you freedom to be yourself
- One who has the courage to confront you
- One who is forgiving toward you
- One who is sensitive to your feelings
- One who is an encourager
- One who is a good listener
- One who has your best interests at heart
Accountability is important and biblical:
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2).
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25a).
Finally, it is not meant to replace the Scriptures or prayer, or to become something similar to a Catholic confession. The Christian life is to be lived in community! It is important to have someone to encourage you and point you to Christ as you live day to day. Not everyone needs to know your struggles or your past sins, but it is important to have someone.
What are your thoughts on accountability? Do you have an accountability partner?