Here are some thoughts and details about my accountability.
Excellence in ministry requires accountability. And lack of accountability is corrosive, tending to undermine and limit the effectiveness of ministry, sometimes to the point where it becomes harmful. However, there is no simple system to ensure truly effective accountability.
On one hand there are “top down” sorts of accountability, imposed by governments, religious institutions, professional associations, and so on. There are clear laws, ethical codes, educational requirements, professional guidelines, and so on. And there are authorities, powers, overseers, elders, etc, who monitor and enforce those boundaries. Within those frameworks, if we step out of line, then somebody says so and there are consequences. That kind of bedrock accountability is indispensable, but it only goes so far.
On the other hand there is what I call “voluntary accountability”. This “bottom up” accountability starts as a spiritual practice, arising from the process of answering a vocational calling. It starts first with agreeing to be accountable to the Spirit within and a willingness to be led by wisdom. From there, admitting human weakness, we reach out to others who can help us find our way. To ensure that we continue growing and progressing, we cultivate “networks of support and accountability”. We cultivate relationships with peers, mentors and organizations that can give us reinforcement, insights, feedback we need to keep us going.
True accountability requires a healthy amount of both of those two types. Getting it right is a matter of deliberate discernment within and among the individuals involved.