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? Consider this passage from 2 Kings 5:20-27:
“But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, thought, ‘Behold, my master has spared this Naaman the Aramean, by not receiving from his hands what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him.’ So Gehazi pursued Naaman. When Naaman saw one running after him, he came down from the chariot to meet him and said, ‘Is all well?’ He said, ‘All is well. My master has sent me, saying, “Behold, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothes.”‘ Naaman said, ‘Be pleased to take two talents.’ And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags with two changes of clothes and gave them to two of his servants; and they carried them before him. When he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and deposited them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed. But he went in and stood before his master. And Elisha said to him, ‘Where have you been, Gehazi?’ And he said, ‘Your servant went nowhere.’ Then he said to him, ‘Did not my heart go with you, when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Is it a time to receive money and to receive clothes and olive groves and vineyards and sheep and oxen and male and female servants? Therefore, the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.’ So he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.”
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.
One of the benefits of accountability is that it is consistent with the human condition that makes us more concerned about what others think than about what God thinks. But we need to remember that accountability is only as good as the information upon which it is based. Accountability without full disclosure is a waste of time.
If we are honest with ourselves, we will come to the conclusion that there are areas of our life where we can sense a great need for accountability. We must all seek out an accountability partner, someone who we trust, with whom we can be totally honest and who is willing to ask us tough questions about various ares of our lives.
*Taken from Handbook to Leadership: Leadership in the Image of God, by Kenneth Boa, et al.