A relationship does not have to be adversarial to have true accountability. It can exist among friends and other types of compassionate, caring relationships. In fact, friends do a much better job of maintaining accountability for one another than legal-lords do, because genuine concern exists between friends, unlike with church bullies.
Consider. Jesus said to the twelve, “I no longer call you servants…. Instead I have called you friends” (John 15:15). He spoke these words at a time in ancient culture when the Jewish people lived under Roman rule, but then stepped out of that hierarchical structure to call his followers friends. Jesus could have used words like king, boss, supervisor, or ruler to describe Himself and terms such as subordinates, lower, or minor to describe them, but He didn’t. Although Lordship titles of supremacy are given to Christ throughout scripture, in this instance Jesus intentionally used the word friends to describe His relationship with the twelve because it portrays a model for human relationships that doesn’t lord one person over another.
I’m going to venture a wild guess here: Mutual accountability probably existed among this group of comrades.
Accountability has to do with matters of the heart more than it does with a system of governance. You cannot legislate morality, honesty, or integrity no matter how hard you try. The best from of accountability is found among people who share a high level of trust and affinity with each another.
Then there are the “accountability groups” that are so popular today. Ever hear of those? Usually they are made up of people who have very little in common each other and are led by an individual who feels like he/she is the Potentate. Everyone is herded together and asked questions like:
- Have your read your Bible every day this week?
- Have you prayed every day?
- Have you looked at anything you shouldn’t have looked at?
- Is your thought life pure?
- Have you lusted?
- Have you disobeyed God in anything? What?
- Have you displayed pride this week?
And the list goes on from here…
What’s wrong with this picture? For starters, these kinds of questions are not designed to discover the progress we have made. Rather, they are designed to catch us in some shortcoming from a checklist of required duties. Besides, they sound like a fishing expedition.
The questions also assume that everyone answers them truthfully. The fact is, people lie when they answer accountability questions… adding to their transgressions.