When faced with a ministry challenge, I’ve heard several well-intentioned church members, board members, and ministry staff leaders make the following statement:
“Things would be better if we just held people more accountable.”
This is often said by well-intentioned, but frustrated individuals. Here’s the thing - they are 100% correct. They are also 100% wrong in their thinking.
Accountability is misunderstood. Most people think accountability means consequences for poor performance. That’s not accountability, that’s punishment. Accountability is a character trait. Accountability is a willingness to own your thoughts, actions, and results - no matter the consequences. A great one-word definition for accountability is ownership.
Most of us have a tendency to look around for things to blame or change based on our situation. If someone is out of work, they tend to blame the poor economy, greedy CEOs, corrupt politicians, or the evils of capitalism. If a ministry has plateaued or is in decline, blame is often placed on cultural change, over-scheduled families, lack of volunteers, or lack of funds.
People who struggle with the accountability character trait tend to blame others. People who excel or who want to grow in accountability know that at the end of the day, the only accountability that exists is self-accountability. Accountable people own their own thinking, actions, and results.
Ministry accountability is not about consequences for behavior, choices, or results - it’s about ownership. As someone involved in ministry, you must hold yourself accountable for your own thoughts, actions, and results. As a leader in ministry, you must help others do the same for themselves.
There is only one surefire way to help yourself and others develop accountability: Own it.
- Owners are accountable.
- Owners hold others accountable.