The Process of Accountability


I remember sitting in my office, watching the cursor flash on the Word document that was to be my sermon. But it was blank. I had no idea what to say, where to go, or what to do. A good portion of the church had already left. They blamed us. They believed the lies and the fabrication. And I, in turn, began to question the call on my life.

I couldn’t write. I couldn’t think. I began to withdraw from relationships. The blinking cursor was symbolic of the synapses in my brain. Nothing.

As one the elders of our small church walked into my office, I looked up at him and said, “I need a boss.” I paused for a moment. “I need accountability. I need someone to guide me in what to do,” I said. “A boss?” he replied. “I’ve worked my entire life trying NOT to have a boss. Don’t worry, Matt, God’ll get us through.”

Famous last words.

In his study, The Walk of Repentance, Steve Gallagher remarks that “accountability in the Bible means much more than just telling another person how we have done with [a] particular problem. It means that we should hold our entire lives accountable to those believers we have joined ourselves with.”

Regardless of our state in vocational ministry, we should never try to get out of “having a boss.” As pastors, finding safe individuals to which we can “hold our entire lives accountable” isn’t just a good idea, it’s essential.

My problem was that I searched for it too late. Accountability should have characterized my ministry from the beginning, not have been a foxhole strategy grasped for towards the end.

Granted, a biblical view of eldership would suggest that your elders or governing leadership can hold that accountability relationship with each other. But for many, including myself, this was not the case. It may even need to be discovered outside your local body. Sometimes healing happens when, instead of holding on to the isolation that so easily works its way into ministry, we embrace community.

So I encourage you to seek, pray, and yearn for healthy individuals whom you can share your real life, your real struggles and your real fears. Blinking cursors, shuttering synapses and vacant relationships can only be conquered through the healing presence of Christ brought by opening your entire life to other healthy individuals.

POSTED ON July 12, 2012
  • Scott Goodyear

    Amen Matt!  Great word!  What are you up to these days?  I miss our former Growth Group!

  • Darjer89

    Thanks so much for sharing Matt! 
    Maybe we should ask what is an accountability partner? I believe my parents were my best first example of accountability . But I think it takes on a different look after we step across the threshold of adulthood.
    The need I suppose is time. Time to connect and develop a respectful attitude toward a person, as well as enough time to develop an abiding trust for the person. Perhaps it is as simple as facing some deep spiritual challenges together.
    I am thinking there are several types of accountability partners.
    All I know is the need is greatest for me when all appears well. When the choices appear simple and familiar. The temptation to settle in to the comfort and false security my fallen nature craves. Having that accountability partner that knows me well enough to ask the questions that I should be asking and prefer not to.
    I am confident I will always and in all ways remain in need of a friend that sticks closer than a brother.
    Perhaps the molding and shaping that the Potter is still engaging me in is preparing me to meet new accountability partners as well.
    I pray I am not too self-righteous to miss the opportunity to discover once again, the hand of Christ pulling me up when I need more than my own way…. 

Matt married Genieve in 2003. They have three very spirited children, Adelaide, Hudson and Shackleton and live in a suburb of St. Louis, MO. Matt resigned from pastoral ministry in late 2010 and has been recovering ever since. Currently, he works as an Account Rep. for a marketing firm. Visit his blog at