Accountability Group

Posted on June 22, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Rankin Connecting

One of the highlights of the Southern Baptist Convention was a dinner and fellowship with the six men (and their wives) who serve as my accountability group. The group has evolved over the years, but they are all prominent pastors and leaders who know and love me. The have a passionate devotion to missions and are committed to my success, not in terms of personal or worldly acclaim but in fulfilling God’s calling and remaining steadfast in spiritual character and behavior.

They know what is going on in my life and stayed abreast of issues impacting the IMB when I carried that leadership responsibility. They understood my vulnerability to controversy and monitored my response to criticism. In periodic conference calls or personal visits over they years, they ask the hard questions: Are you maintaining your morning time with the Lord? Are you spending quality time with Bobbye and being sensitive to her needs? Is there anyone with whom you have a strained relationship that needs to healed.

When they hear of conflicts with the board or read of public reaction to a decision I have made, they ask about my heart, how I feel about an adversarial person and whether or not I have initiated reconciliation. They ask me if I am exercising and maintaining discipline in a healthy lifestyle. They expect honesty and total transparency. I can discuss my struggles and frequent sense of failure because I am confident of their love and support. Our discussions are more times of encouragement and praying for one another than confrontation.

Knowing my own weakness, the temptations I face on a regular basis and the proclivity for my ego to dominate decisions, distort perspectives and diminish objectivity, I need someone to hold me accountable.  I can’t imagine anyone, especially a pastor or someone in prominent leadership responsibilities, functioning without others to whom they are accountable. Obviously we have staff, boards or perhaps elders to whom we are accountable, but it needs to go beyond that. We all need personal relationships that supersede organizational structures.

Our greatest vulnerability to sin, abuse of power and burn-out is in trying to function independently without help or accountability to others. When I read of pastors falling morally or Christian leaders treating one another without grace, I pause to wonder if there is anyone to whom they feel accountability for their actions or attitudes. God places believers into the church to be a part of a body-life of fellowship, nurture, encouragement and accountability. Unfortunately, we have developed a pattern of passive participation and self-protection in which we seldom share our hurts and temptations and forfeit the benefit we would gain from the support of others.

My accountability group is a strong deterrent to carnal attitudes and impetus in my walk with the Lord. I constantly think, in situations everyday, “What would they say if they knew what I was thinking or what I did? What would they advise me to do in perplexing situations?” We ought to practice the presence of Christ and be aware that He is monitoring our every thought and activity, but sometimes we need flesh and blood friends to fill that role.

One Comment on “Accountability Group”

  1. C.

    It’s good, Pak.
    The older I get, the more it seems we neglect to hold each other accountable as if “as adults” we don’t need to maintain this critical spiritual discipline. You touched upon this in the second-to-last paragraph. My experience, however, has been quite the opposite: the older I get, the more I realize that I need others speaking truth into my life by holding me accountable. I find my heart continuously callousing in the flesh, always evolving into a more experienced evader, hence the importance of abiding in Christ and “practicing the presence of Christ”. It’s encouraging to hear leaders speak this way when I feel it’s too often overlooked, whether from “passive participation”, “self-protection”, or simply from a hardened heart gripped by fear. Thanks be to God for His Son and the sent Helper!

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