Accountability is not always fun. Who wants others to tell you what you need to improve, change, or quit doing? Seeking hard input doesn’t generally rank high on the priority list. But to be the people God wants us to be, there’s no way around it. We have to ask others what they see that blinds us.
This has been on my mind recently as I’ve read about, observed, watched, and considered well-known leaders, but it applies to all Christians. God has set up the church for accountability. No one is immune, nor should we want to be. We will answer to God for what we willfully ignore.
Over the past few days I’ve binge watched “The Roosevelts,” because we are leaving soon on a trip which includes a stop at Franklin Roosevelt’s home in Hyde Park, New York.
My views of Roosevelt were greatly influenced by conversations between my parents and my aunt and uncle. They all lived through FDR’s presidency and considered themselves experts on his mistakes. (They wouldn’t say that, but that’s what I heard.)
As an adult and a student of leadership, I now find myself fascinated by FDR’s story. He was for certain a great leader, whether or not you agree with his policies. I’ve learned that he and Eleanor didn’t have a marriage that we might call happy, but their political and humanitarian causes united them to try to achieve something lasting.
Apparently Eleanor never stopped bending Franklin’s ear about causes close to her heart—the plight of the poor, civil rights, and world peace—to name a few. When his political senses convinced him not to push forward with such causes, she called him on it. He didn’t always listen, but she was his conscience when he ignored his own principles.
We all need such people. Truthfully they often come across as negative and nagging, but we all need friends who speak the truth even when it’s hard. Leaders especially need truth-tellers around them because upfront roles bring temptation to pride and power. Such sins are damaging to any leader, but they are often even more destructive to Christians who lose their influence for the gospel.
If you don’t have a truth-teller in your life, go find one.
It’s not easy to do, and perhaps more difficult to find a woman who is willing to risk hurting your feelings.
My husband has most consistently spoken truth to me. He will cautiously tell me when there’s a big something I need to change. Although I may not always like the message, I try not to kill the messenger!
As a leader I ask for input from those who work with me and give them room and freedom to do so. I’ve always tried to include women who see things a bit differently than I do on my leadership teams. Otherwise, there’s no reason to have a team. Of course, we want to move forward with a sense of support and unity, but if someone on the team is concerned about the who, what, or why of what we do, that is a signal that we need to slow down and talk more to God.
If you want accountability, what kind of person should you look for? I seek a wise, smart, and mature believer with strong ethical and moral convictions who trusts God no matter what. They are out there; just look.
Once God identifies such people, give them permission to speak honestly and openly, believing that God has set up the church as a place of accountability for the advance of his kingdom. It’s about his kingdom’s sake, not building our own kingdoms.
Having others speak into our lives makes us more like Jesus as leaders and people. Share with us how you have found accountability.