Accountability is a popular term in Christian circles that is often used and rarely executed well. As our flesh wars against what we know is right, we find ourselves in desperate need of outside forces to assist us in staying the course. The scripture says that no one is righteous and each passing day is a reminder to me of how quickly I can be lead astray, but the gospel that we cling to tells us that there is hope! Once Christ brings us to the realization that we are incapable of rescuing ourselves and draws us to Himself, we begin a lifelong journey in understanding the intricacies of adherence to Christ, which we can also call sanctification.
Although God alone deserves the credit for access to this journey as well as each ounce of progress along the way, there is a very real responsibility that rests on our shoulders to discipline ourselves toward holiness. This discipline is critical for all believers but even more so for the person called by God to aspire to the role of pastor at any level. With this said, let me give you just a few points to consider in how a strategic focus on accountability can propel your ministry.
In breaking this down, I want to create 4 categories of accountability as it relates to team leadership, but you need to know one thing first — the key to understanding and utilizing each of these areas of accountability is to take hold of your role in modeling these areas of accountability well before your people. This means that you must communicate levels of expectation to your team, whether that be a staff team or a volunteer team, and then you must show yourself committed to at least the same standard that you have asked your people to commit to. As you’ve probably heard, “As the leadership goes, so go the people.”
For this discussion, we will consider spiritual accountability to be dedication to daily time spent in bible study and prayer. Neither you, or anyone on your teams can lead students to a place spiritually where they have never been. As we seek to feed the sheep that God has given us to shepherd, we must make sure to constantly be in a posture of submissive reception to the word of God. As we are filled and ministered to, we are also equipped to guide others, but outside of this discipline, we are simply blind leading blind.
It is important for you as the leader to model this in front of your leaders by communicating both how you do this and what you are learning on a regular basis. This allows a healthy access to your life as the leader and also trains and encourages your leaders to do the same.
It is also important to hold your leaders accountable to this pursuit. One way to do this is through a signed covenant at the beginning of each year of service. This gives you an opportunity to connect regularly and intentionally in this area with all who are a part of your ministry. This also gives you permission to periodically ask throughout the year how each person is doing.
Although personal accountability is generally tied in with spiritual accountability, I wanted to break it out here in highlighting the great impact that a person’s ongoing actions have on the people that are looking to them for leadership. Personal accountability leans into a person’s relationships on every level, their actions while out in public and while at home. This must be highlighted because today’s church has a hypocrisy problem. We tend to behave one way on Sundays and another on Mondays. This is unacceptable for the Christian leader, because as we know, true discipleship means giving access to one’s life so that the learner can witness first hand what it looks like to follow Christ in every area of life. When we model for students a life only partially dedicated to God that is filled with rationalized “Christian liberties”, we put our students at an immediate disadvantage.
Here again, it is crucial not only for you to set a standard for your team, whether staff or volunteers, but it also important that you communicate your expectations clearly for them early and often.
Ministry accountability speaks to the specific measures of accountability that you want to set for your team related to weekly ministry engagement. This should be a set of standards that uphold a level of excellence in your ministry. This means setting clear expectations for things like being on time, how to handle a discipline issue, contacting your students, etc.
This is one area in which you MUST set a higher standard for yourself then you do your leaders. For example, if you are asking your leaders to be 15 minutes early for a class that they are teaching, you must be at least 15 minutes ahead of them so that you can have everything ready for them. Don’t ask them to be early so that you can stroll in late and still have everything covered. That is poor leadership.
Growth accountability is a more general area, but this is simply an area of accountability that sets expectations for all involved to always be seeking to be better this year than they were last year in all that they are doing. This leans heavily on you to offer training and resources to aid this process, but without a commitment to this from your leaders, you can’t expect them to attend your training sessions in the first place.
This also leans heavily on you because if you aren’t learning how to be better, you can’t very well teach your team how to improve. So read up!!
This post was written by John Paul Basham, Manager of LifeWay Student Ministry Publishing