“Accountability Partners!” — How’s That Working Out?

Had a great response to the various postings on the RZIM scandal and how it relates to ministry and the local church.
Here was one of the most recent questions and interchange . . . . 
Bob: Great Articles about Leadership and Accountability.  You don’t need to answer this – How do you protect yourself, and do you have accountability partners?

Me: Great question…. I do want to address that question. . . . . and will say more. . . . but if I need an accountability partner, then I as a pastor should be in another position…when the doctor can’t take care of his own health, he’s not a doctor, he’s called a patient.

Bob: I understand — But most of the Pastors in America have fallen due to lack of accountability.  I have been in Christian leadership and was held accountable by friends, elders, deacons, and my wife – perhaps the most critical of me going in the wrong direction of falling / sin.

Me: . . .

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#1) I was going to say in my initial brief response to your comment that we all have an accountability partner if we are married.  If anyone knows us and what we are saying and doing, it is probably her.

However, that makes my point!  Not even Ravi’s wife knew what was taking place or, if she had suspicions, addressed in it real enough terms.  Therefore, what is the hope of someone less involved in our lives?

#2) If a person wants to engage in immoral behavior, they will.  There are plenty of workarounds to arrive at a place where you want to arrive.  No accountability partner will resolve an internal issue from an external position.  Ravi’s wife and adu9lt children proved that!

#3) As you state, there are people — friends on various levels, which may also be elders, and deacons as well — who we listen to and open up to in life and living.  That small circle of people we have come to trust and value have always been in that “relationship place” in our lives to listen and influence us.  They have been given “relational freedom” to speak to us.  They are “natural,” not formal partners in life and living.  I have, as do you, a small number of close friends, as well as my wife and children, who can caution and correct my thinking when I talk openly — as I do them.

#4) If the head doctor is sick and has no idea as to how to get back to health, he has no right to be in the emergency room for others.  Ravi should have resigned himself knowing what he knew.  He is (and was) a patient in need of serious moral and spiritual help.

#5) I, along with many others I suspect, have been asked to cover up the immoral behavior of others in the church and of those who are still in the church’s membership and/or who are still ministering — asked by other pastors.  That is how sick evangelicalism, mission board, and its pastors are.  They can’t even do what needs to be done and face such issues straight on.  Mission boards cover for missionaries, and pastors cover and even continue to support other men in ministry who have been engaged in immoral behavior.  Tell me how  “accountability partners” are supposed to work again!

#6) How did Ravi get away with such behavior, such egregious behavior, so long?  One of the answers is “plausible deniability.”  We have heard that term in the political world, and it describes what happens in the church.  There are plausible explanations that Ravi gave, and they were believed.  What is one of the solutions to that not happening?  Intense push back that does not allow shallow responses or claims of unfairness.  Intense enough to cause the one being questioned to even complain, but to accept such scrutiny because they know they are either innocent, or their “so-claimed proper behavior” has caused such legitimate intensity!

That is the problem with leadership and pastors in the local church setting.  They shield themselves from fair scrutiny by a variety of means — one of them being relationships, as well as the argument of past practice (“We have always . . . what is this change about now?), silencing of members by threats of disfavor or dismissal, purposefully structured business meeting times,  sermons designed to promote a protective spirit prior to that business meeting, calling out of discordant members from the pulpit, and even dismissal.  These are all designed to prevent or lessen legitimate and fair “push back.”  Ravi, and other ministry leaders and pastors, know how this all works, all too well.

#7) Those who irresponsibly allow and/or cover are not even held accountable.  Even co-leaders and members of “the board” who were responsible for oversight ought to be held accountable and asked to resign.   One would have hope they would have resigned themselves, as should have RZ.  Apparently, they do not think so!  How again do accountability partners work?

External accountability partners will never be more viable or potent than personal internal accountability.  If RZ couldn’t bring himself to resign and seek help, then it is only the process of shameful unveiling that has the probability and potency to speak spiritually sensibility into the mind and heart.  That unveiling took place after his death because “no one” had the strength to intensely push back, and/or those who did were marginalized and demonized (per the second article on how it was covered up by the leadership).

As I have often said in ministry . . . .

“I don’t know who I am talking to this morning but “STOP IT” — get off this road now and take this message and warning as the last time that the Lord will speak to you about it!”

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The #1 Reason to Leave The Church — PDF Link

Referenced RZIM Material

The Roy’s Report


RZIM Report:

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