What is Accountability?
Being accountable means being responsible and answerable. Accountability means basing actions on what we believe is honorable and truthful and not simply acting according to feelings, wants, and desires.
Accountability keeps us from hurting ourselves and others by making us liable, responsible, and answerable for our actions or lack of action. Without accountability, the door remains open for saying and doing just about anything we want.
Accountability and Balance
Accountability to God and to other Christians exists as a Biblical principle (Galatians 6:1-5; Luke 17:3; James 5:16; Romans 14:12; Hebrews 4:13.) It also serves to strengthen us in ways we could not discover on our own.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
Accountability provides a source of wisdom for the adjustments needed to maintain balance and keep from toppling over under the pressure and stress of our overloaded and drama-filled lives. Allowing accountability to function properly makes balance easier to maintain. When I neglect and/or ignore accountability, my life quickly becomes unstable.
Accountability helps maintain balance because it:
- Encourages us. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Accountability helps us know what we’re doing right and gives direction for decisions. It also helps us know we’re not alone in our struggles.
- Improves us. (Proverbs 17:17) We need others to alert us to improvements as well as how to go about making them. Attempting to stay balanced alone just isn’t possible because we simply cannot accurately see everything about ourselves.
- Makes us think. The Bible says we’ll be held accountable for every idle word we speak (Matthew 12:36-37). Accountability forces us to not only think about what we say but also about what influences exist at the heart of our words.
- Builds trust. (Luke 16:10-12) Letting Godly people speak into our lives exercises humbleness. It practices our willingness to open ourselves up to necessary change, and this stretches us in a way that allows for bigger responsibility as we gain a reputation for honesty and transparency.
- Realigns us. (1 John 2:1-29; James 5:16) We’re expected to mess up. That’s part of life this side of heaven. So, the real test of solid character shows with how a person reacts after messing up. A willingness to be reshaped by the Godly wisdom of another goes a long way in getting back on track after making mistakes.
Accountability only comes when we deliberately pursue it. This happens by being:
- Open to it. This means not being defensive and instead being teachable. Accountability requires humbleness.
- Transparent and honest. I need to share my weaknesses and struggles in order for another to truly be able to help me. The protective bubble surrounding my ego has to go.
- Willing to receive it. Too many times, I’ve appeared open to accountability and then proceeded to ignore all wisdom coming my way. Be willing to apply and adjust using the wisdom gained through accountability.
Before I can be someone to whom another becomes accountable, I must make sure I am first willing to be accountable to another person. This in itself is another aspect of balance that accountability brings into a person’s life.