What do we mean by accountability? In the simplest terms, it is answering the hard questions. Accountability includes opening one's life to a few carefully selected, trusted, loyal confidants who speak the truth—who have the right to examine, to question, to appraise, and to give counsel.
People who are accountable usually have four qualities:
Vulnerability—capable of being wounded, shown to be wrong, even admitting it before being confronted.
Teachability—a willingness to learn, being quick to hear and respond to reproof, being open to counsel.
Availability—accessible, touchable, able to be interrupted.
Honesty—committed to the truth regardless of how much it hurts, a willingness to admit the truth no matter how difficult or humiliating the admission may be. Hating all that is phony or false.
That's a tough list! As I look back over those four qualities, I am more than ever aware of why accountability is resisted by the majority. Those with fragile egos can't handle it. And prima donna types won't tolerate it. They have a greater desire to look good and make a stunning impression than anything else. I mean, "the very idea of someone probing into my life!"
Don't misunderstand. I'm not suggesting for a moment that accountability gives the general public carte blanche access to any and all areas of one's private life. If you will glance back a few lines you will notice I referred to "a few carefully selected, trusted, loyal confidants." They are the ones who have earned the right to come alongside and, when it seems appropriate and necessary, ask the hard questions, to serve in an advisory capacity, bringing perspective and wisdom where such may be lacking.
In our society, where privacy is a reward of promotion and a life of virtual secrecy is the prerogative of most leaders, a lack of accountability is considered the norm. This is true despite the fact that unaccountability is both unwise and unbiblical, not to mention downright perilous!
Today we need others to hold us accountable. Sometimes an objective opinion will reveal a blind spot. Sometimes we may simply need a sounding board to help keep us on target. Just remember—not one of us is an island. We need one another.
Excerpted from Dear Graduate: Letters of Wisdom from Charles R. Swindoll, Copyright 2007 by Charles R. Swindoll Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.