Accountability in Ministry

By Josh Steckel

I recently finished reading 1 & 2 Samuel and, as always, I was struck by the life of David, the young shepherd boy who became the king of Israel. The same David who wrote Psalms and who was known as a man after God’s own heart.

However, for all the great things done in and through David’s life, the one story that always stands out as contrary to the David we know is 2 Samuel 11 and the adulterous relationship between David and Bathsheba. Briefly, David doesn’t go off to war as he is supposed to. Instead he stays home, sees Bathsheba bathing and decides he must have her. He has an affair with her, murders her husband to cover his sin, and eventually loses the child that he has with her.

One of the major problem areas in David’s life that led to the downward spiral was a lack of accountability.

The late Howard Hendricks did a study on fallen pastors that looked at 246 men over a two-year period who experienced moral failure in ministry and were subsequently disqualified from ministry. Dr. Hendricks found four common threads among the 246 men:

  • None had any kind of personal accountability.
  • Each of them had all but ceased having time alone with the Lord.
  • More than 80 percent became sexually involved with other women after spending significant time with them.
  • Each had been convinced that it would “never happen to them.”

As pastors and ministry leaders, we need accountability. We need other men to be able to speak truth into our lives for several reasons.

1) Awareness of Our Sinfulness

We are all sinners. We all have areas of our lives where darkness still reigns. That’s why we need other men who know us and aren’t afraid to speak truth into our lives to pray for us and to show us where we are not measuring up (Hebrews 3:13). Whether it is in the way we love our wives or handling a situation in our church, we need guys who are willing to call us out in those moments when we are tempted to allow our sin to get the best of us.

2) Created for Community

We are created in the image of a triune God, and therefore we are created to be dependent on each other (1 Corinthians 12:12). As pastors and ministry leaders, we know how difficult ministry can be. Having accountability partners allows us to have other men around us who can bear our burdens and encourage us when we need it (Titus 2:11–12).

3) Need for Outside Wisdom

There are often situations we deal with as pastors and ministry leaders that we haven’t seen before. However, by the providence of God, as we surround ourselves with others for accountability, there will often be those who have either been in our situation or who are able to see the situation with “new eyes.” These people may be able to provide insight and wisdom that we need to help resolve a particular conflict (Proverbs 12:15; Psalm 37:30–31).

4) Growth in Holiness

God’s greatest desire for our lives is that we continue to look more and more like Jesus. We need other men around us who can spur us on and push us to be more like Him by asking us hard questions, quoting Scripture to us, or praying over us. We also need those who model what it looks like to pursue Christ by how they live their lives and seek Jesus in their own personal walks (1 Timothy 4:7; Ephesians 4:3).

In order for us to fully live out our calling, we need to have other men in our lives to make us aware of our sinful tendencies, provide us with outside wisdom, and encourage us in continued growth in holiness.

Proverbs 27:17 states, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” When seeking accountability partners, we should look for

  • Men who have vibrant personal walks with Jesus,
  • Men who love Jesus and His Church more than they love you,
  • Men who love you and aren’t afraid to speak truth into your life,
  • Men who don’t desire to profit from you or from an association with you.

Josh Steckel serves as the Minister to Young Families at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. You can follow him on Twitter at @joshsteckel.