November 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

(Christian Accountability Part IV was first published on 9/13/2011)

In the past three blogs I have written about the importance of accountability as an essential element in the process of making disciples. I believe the church could be revolutionized if most active participants would enter into a mutually accountable relationship with one or more other believers. This process was demonstrated by Jesus and was the method he used to train and equip the twelve.

There is an additional important attribute of accountability that should not be overlooked. Every Christian is called to be  personally accountable for the work of the kingdom. Every parent is called to be personally accountable for their role as parent. Every citizen is called to be accountable for their citizenship.

How many times do we hear church members complain that somebody should do something about some problem in the church? Somebody should start a new Sunday School class. Somebody should volunteer to work with the youth. How often do we hear people complain that somebody should do something to repair our community’s roads or make our neighborhood safe or improve the education our children are getting.

People often ask who, why, and when questions. “When is someone (else) going to do something to solve that problem?” And when someone does step up and things don’t go perfectly, we hear folks ask, “Who messed up?” “Why did they do THAT.” Our human tendency is to complain and blame.

We should be asking what questions.  And the most important question is “What can I do?” What can I do to make a difference? What can I do to solve that problem or at least help others solve that problem.

I spoke on the subject of accountability recently at a Rotary Club. A physician came up to me after the meeting and told me about a patient of his who worked for the post office. He complained to her about the inefficiency of the postal service and particularly about how they sometimes lost mail. She responded by indicating that she understood how he felt. She then proceeded to describe a personal experience.

She told about seeing a letter on the floor at the postal distribution center where she worked. She explained that the letter stayed on the floor for several days. When the doctor asked the lady why she didn’t pick the letter up, she responded, “Oh, well, it was not in my department.”

I wonder how different our nation would be if all of us held ourselves personally accountable for doing what we could to make a difference. I wonder how different our churches would be if every member stopped asking the  who, why, and when questions and began asking the important what question. What would happen if, rather than blaming and complaining, we responded to every issue by asking what we can do? That is the kind of accountability that can transform our churches and truly make disciples that transform the world.

Dr. Gary Thompson


I am a retired United Methodist pastor. I write adult curriculum for the United Methodist Church and have been doing so for over 10 years. My passion is helping the Christian Church more effectively fulfill its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ and to help individuals identify and fulfill their God-given personal mission.

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