A new controversy over accountability has arisen in the Body. It is the latest edition of a discussion and dialogue as old as Eden. Man was positioned over creation with authority and responsibility for which he was naturally, spiritually, and eternally accountable. hell challenged man on the basis of his accountability to God and launches the history of redemption and restoration.
For the modern American church, the latest version of the controversy divides between perceptions that “any accountability is control” and “accountability is undesirable dynamic for the Body of Christ.” (Note that for another portion of the Body no controversy exists. I am speaking to the controversy.)
We could make a very valid distinction between “institutional accountability” and “discipling leadership accountability.” That people are not so much responsible to institutions as they are to God-assigned leaders.
Accountability is a basic presupposition of Biblical thought: that is, we are all accountable to our Creator for what we do, who we become, and how we live – what we do and become with the eternal stuff He invests in us. We give an ultimate account to God because He made us.
This ultimate accountability put Jesus on the Cross, so we could be accountable to Someone who could redeem and restore us! “The Lamb Who accepted responsibility to create what Father wanted also accepted responsibility to redeem what He created.” He is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. He is the Judge of all the earth. Ultimately.
As far as ultimate authority goes, the discussion about “whether or not” is ridiculous. Of course, we are accountable. Of course, we are accountable to God, the ultimate of accountability. We are not accountable in the redemptive or ultimate sense to human beings because they don’t create us, redeem us, restore us, or determine eternal conditions for us.
However, God makes us accountable to human beings. He defines that accountability by their legitimate functions. Accountable to governmental leaders as God’s servants. Accountable to kingdom leaders as those who give account for their leadership. Accountable within marriage and family as defined by Divinely-designed roles and relationship.
I won’t discuss the legitimacy of any of these accountability dynamics since they are obvious in Scripture, inherent to God’s designs for culture, family, and kingdom. They just are, so get used to it.
What is discussion-relevant is how accountability limitations frustrate the function of God’s designed leadership. God is giving us a great, merciful opportunity to get it right before we stand before His ultimate accountability. “Every man shall give account for his human behavior.” God is also making a redemptive effort to help us get it right about being who He created us to be and doing what He has called us to do. He is using other people to help reach this goal, on purpose.
I will give account to God for being the person He created me to be. I will give account to God for doing what He has called me to do. Since part of His strategy to redeem and restore me involves human leaders, I will also give account about limiting leadership functions He designed to help me reach fullness and fulfillment of destiny and purpose.
God’s strategy for kingdom establishing is leadership. God’s strategy for kingdom function is leadership. Accountability is one function of kingdom leadership. Making myself accountable to myself may produce personal achievement; making myself accountable to leaders can produce a level of achievement I cannot reach on my own.
Leadership requires me to be accountable to leaders and hold others accountable to my leadership. Leadership holds me accountable for doing the right thing, consistent with “what God wants” – the will of God, the assignment of God, the strategic steps to fulfillment of my destiny and purpose.
[Note that I am ignoring the accountability to institutions that is based upon a set of special rules of conduct and behavior. Any check list that puts you in “good standing” with an institution is a dead end. It doesn’t match the discipling model and doesn’t produce mature people, let alone leaders. It is not ‘on the board’ of this discussion. The whole “I don’t smoke and I don’t chew, and I don’t go with girls that do” kind of “discipline” hasn’t produced what it was designed to produce and is not part of a legitimate discussion of accountability.]
If I say, “God alone will tell me what He wants and hold me accountable for how well I do it,” I have left kingdom out of the equation. God has some things to say to me that He will say through leaders and hold me accountable to leaders for how well I implement these instructions. No matter how loudly I protest to the contrary, God isn’t going to redesign His kingdom to fit my comfort level.
I have heard people say, “If God has anything to say to me, He can just speak to me; I don’t need anyone else speaking into my life.” That would be one great example of rebellion, lack of submission, disobedience, adolescent defiance, and kingdom insurrection—a terribly dysfunctional way of living within ‘kingdom come.’
Certainly, Father is intimately involved in disciplining His true children here and now. (Hebrews 12) Certainly, Holy Spirit is Teacher, Guide, Counselor, and in charge of all gifts, ministries, and operations. (1Corinthians 12-14; John 14-16) Certainly, Jesus is the only Head of His Body. (Ephesians 1-2) However, God has designed His kingdom to function with human leadership. Just ask Him! This pattern is called “discipling,” and it is fundamental to kingdom.
Accountability measures efficiency and effectiveness for kingdom leaders.
God does not directly and exclusively disciple anyone. He established a strategy to disciple within leadership relationships, and He faithfully provides us the leaders we need to reach destiny and fulfill purpose. Although God does speak to me directly, the living and application of revelation, the fulfillment of assignment requires receiving and releasing within the Body of Christ. “Joints supply,” so where I am connected to the Body is where I release and receive from the Head.
If there is authority in the kingdom, there is responsibility in the kingdom, there is accountability in the kingdom. If there is leadership in the kingdom, there is accountability. If there is discipling in the kingdom, there is accountability.
Any attack on accountability is an attack of hell, not heaven.
Leadership or Control?
While it is a truism to say, “God is in control,” God does not control people in the strictest sense. I mean God doesn’t produce robotic puppetry. God doesn’t ‘zombie’ us into obedience; else we are not ‘obedient’ at all by God’s definition of obedience. God isn’t controlling, or things would sure be better than they are!
God hasn’t designed kingdom leadership to be controlling either. He sees control as use, misuse, and abuse, and God hates it within the kingdom. Ask Him!
Leadership appears consistently throughout life as God made it. Of course, kingdom doesn’t function like a family nor does social government even though all are designed by God. But all these leadership models are designed with accountability in their systems.
Accountability does not mean control, require control, or even function well through control. Accountability presupposes freedom, establishes freedom, and enhances freedom.
Accountability, when voluntary submission is the position of the one being held to account, is positive, corrective, maturing, and valuable. I choose to make myself accountable.
Father’s heart overflows with passionate love for people and His purposes. The proper motivations of all the relationships He has designed also function at their highest when motivated by passionate love for people and purpose. Put “passionate love” into family as the highest motivator and all the other functional dynamics of leadership within it rise higher. Put passionate love for God’s purposes for any people or culture as the highest motivator of that people’s leadership and all the other functional dynamics of leadership within it rise higher.
In the same way the kingdom—passionate love of people and purpose as the highest motivations of leadership causes every function of kingdom leadership to rise higher.
To be truly accountable, we must be free to submit. Forced marriage, dictatorship, and kingdom autocracy ignores the motivations of love for people and purpose. Arranged marriage makes sense if you are forcing children into marriage or redefining marriage as a means of political alliance or advantage, but marriage was never designed to function without passionate love, voluntary submission, and permanent selectivity. So, forced marriage fails to live up to the design unless the parties involved surrender to passionate love as the highest motivator.
God gives people the government they deserve. Only a government with passionate love for God’s purpose for its culture and people can rise to the highest function of leadership.
Jesus says kingdom leadership cannot function like the governments of nations. See Matthew 20. He is interested in producing leaders, not consumers. Love for people and purpose as the highest motivator of leadership is a presumption of God’s leadership for man, and His leadership design and function through human leaders.
Love as the highest motivator allows for freedom and voluntary submission. It allows me to seek accountability that strengthens my life. It makes personal accountability a discipline desired, not a limitation to be destroyed or an obstacle to overcome.
In reality, each of us is irrevocably accountable for our behaviors. Like it or not. In reality, each of us chooses masters, hates one, loves another, serves God or mammon, darkness, self, the prince of the power of the air, etc. Like it or not.
Leadership in the kingdom begins when we change kingdoms. We are not surrendering to Jesus without revoking the control, ownership, and domination of darkness. When we surrender to Jesus, we are not choosing a Master, we are changing masters. Having entered the kingdom of God, we begin learning how to live within the kingdom, serving the King of kings. We are not in the kingdom of “Jesus and me” as if we are living alone with Christ. The Bride of Christ is not one person!
We do not get to choose our leaders. We are free to submit to the leaders Jesus assigns, and we are personally accountable to Jesus for our accountability to them.
We don’t get the privilege of blaming our poor decisions on controlling leaders, bad leaders, abusive leaders, or deceiving leadership. When we have bad leaders, we appeal to our King for release, and then we allow His process of release to set us free! We are assigned to pray for leaders, so they will be good leaders; we are not assigned to ignore leaders, use leaders like they are Santa Claus, or pick and choose leaders on the ‘cafeteria plan.’
I am painting with a very broad brush here; but the point is that because we are accountable to God ultimately, we are accountable to men for our decisions and behaviors temporally. We are submitting to some leadership of some kind. Jesus says we cannot serve two masters, not that we can serve none. So, like it or not, we are accountable personally to be accountable to human leaders.
Leaders Are Accountable
Jesus holds leaders accountable for the behaviors of individuals within the kingdom. Paul makes this clear in the way he deals with open perversion at Corinth, holding the leaders accountable to do something about the personal life of one of their people. This makes sense because of the discipling assignment, not because leaders are assigned to stand around and “check list” the behaviors of people.
Paul says the Corinthians would boast when they should discipline. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Making people accountable because you are accountable for the whole lump. The process Paul gave for discipline was designed to stop the sin yet redeem and restore the sinner. The point I make here is that Paul makes them accountable for this man’s behavior. He goes on to make them accountable to one another in other ways even to the extent that they should have a means of settling disputes without involving civil courts, even to the extent that their private lives should be submitted to the highest purpose of God in their generation concerning marriage, money, and morality.
Paul says that their human leadership will be an extension of Jesus’ “here and now” involvement with His Body: “I will be there in spirit with the Lord Jesus as you gather together and turn the offender over…”
Scripture also clarifies the leader’s accountability to make others accountable in Hebrews 13. Here the writer reveals that leaders give account for watching over the souls of God’s people, that the submission response of those people can make this assignment joyful or stressful, and that leaders are accountable for their own actions toward the people they lead. Paul says, “Pray for me and the other apostolic leaders because we must continue to live in integrity and faithfulness.”
Watching over souls doesn’t mean controlling, driving, or intimidating them. Being called to go after the one lost sheep certainly assumes that sheep will wander: the response is not to chain them in place but to get up and go after them.
Leaders are accountable to God for your accountability to them. Sheep they go after are sheep seeking to avoid accountability: “I don’t want to graze in that valley anymore! Grass is greener over there!” Prodigal sons have fathers but refuse to allow their fathers to father them. True fathers make the fullness of their leadership available for redemption and restoration because they are accountable for sons no matter what.
In the analogies, both sheep and sons have freedom to “do stupid.” Leaders have responsibility to watch for their souls and appropriately respond to their behaviors. Some people are sheep and need someone to respond to their wandering. Some sons are rebels and the “I’m waiting for you to make up your mind to come home” response is equally appropriate. That is, the response of leaders to individuals is different according to the maturity of the people they lead.
Jesus, the ultimate leader, accepted ultimate accountability for people and purpose, and motivated by the highest passionate love of the Father, living the ultimate “I watch for your souls” redemptive and restorative behaviors. He sought to be accountable to Father, made Himself accountable in the ultimate sense, and “became the source and resource of eternal salvation.”
In kingdom leadership, we learn “best practices” of Heaven and adjust our leadership styles to meet the demands of His ultimate accountability. We don’t cancel out human leadership because it falls short of perfection anymore than leaders cancel out their accountability for our poor behaviors.
New Level of Accountability
As this generation faces the next decade, I believe a new level of accountability is needed. Jesus is visiting His called together assemblies to bring them to account for their kingdom assignment. In this season, we must discern leadership that is moving closer to His designed function, get into our place of assignment, learn obedience by enduring, practice focused surrender and love-motivated submission, and prepare ourselves for a new season.
The issue of accountability is surfacing because it is an essential Jesus is restoring to proper function; hell is rising to frustrate His work in His people. The subsequent battle will both prepare us to be victors and give us the victory so we are more than champions ready to face the giants of our generation.
Without healthy accountability, we can’t have appropriate, healthy leadership. The problem with our faulty leadership is twofold: poor leaders and poor disciples. Which came first or who is the problem changes nothing about the bottom line: we all must change! We must change our response to leaders and leaders must change the dynamics of their leadership. It must be mutual and it must be meaningful. It must happen now!
Someone recently said to me: “We don’t want to be accountable to leaders. We just want to love one another and live in community. We are going to govern by mutual consent. No big boys and little boys.” Add other paragraphs of meaningless mush and you have the rebellion of Korah wearing play clothes. They will achieve the tyranny of mediocrity. They will practice the dictatorship as “social justice.” Whatever you call it, it is Cain, Saul, Korah, and Jezebel all over again.
Institutionalized church-anity and “just us and nobody else church” without good leadership still end up in dysfunction because their leadership is inconsistent with the design of the kingdom and the disposition of the King. It is just as abusive to raise your child with no discipline as it is to raise your child as a controlled clone. Neither leadership pattern is motivated with passionate love for the person and his purpose. In other words, controlling leadership and mushy leadership are both wrong because they aren’t good leadership.
Accountability is essential to family, government, and kingdom. Not optional. All the discussions of what’s wrong with leadership and what’s wrong with “people in the pew” won’t move us one step toward change unless we both change.
If we cannot be accountable to our leaders, we need new leaders. A process of release is necessary, but we cannot remain stuck for years. Stop following leaders who refuse to change. Seek leaders to whom you can be accountable. Not perfect leaders. They don’t exist. Not leaders of my own choosing. They won’t disciple you. Leaders Jesus has given the Body who can help you grow up and fulfill destiny and purpose.
To go to the next level, you need next level leadership. You cannot get there on your own. Don’t choose leaders who make you comfortable, manage or maintain status quo, don’t embarrass your social network, etc. Choose leaders who can rock your world, confront your issues, and impart as well as inform. Choose leaders who can release something into your life bigger than you and beyond your control so you can exceed your “self-help” version of achievement.
Enough of the “I need someone to get me the stuff I need to make something of myself.” You don’t need consultants as much as you need leaders, so value leadership. Kingdom doesn’t work like this world’s systems. You don’t need a kingdom MBA, a spiritual career manager, or a personal groomer for image development.
Romans 12:2 still makes sense: to prove God’s ultimate definition of success for your life, you need a radically renewed mind. Romans 12:1 is your setup: sacrifice, surrender, and submission. Get accountable to your assigned leaders and you will become what you were created to be and do what you have been called to do. You won’t get there on your own. God designed things that way. Seek accountability.