Pastoral Accountability: Are there red flags you should be watching?
Anyone in the church or even outside the church is all too familiar with the long chain of stories concerning ministries and leaders that have been shipwrecked by scandal. It’s an unfortunate black eye that the bride of Christ has had to sport for far too long. However, it is also a reality of ministry because in the end churches are made up of imperfect people and imperfect people make mistakes, sometimes catastrophic ones. This being said, I think it is fair to say that by in large most church scandals involve one of two things … money or sex, sometimes both. Why is this? Well, I’m sure we could debate that for days but in my opinion it is primarily for two reasons: 1) nothing competes against God for your heart like the love of money, and 2) ministry leaders are mostly men and men battle with lust on a daily basis. The question then is this … What do we do? Can we afford to keep having these newsworthy failures on a semi-regular basis without losing all credibility? The world looks at the church and sees hypocrites because in their minds, we are just like them. The thing is, they are right … we are just like them. We are all sinners, we all screw up, and we all need a Savior. Yet Jesus calls us to set the bar and not crawl under it. Sin is unavoidable, broken people are unavoidable, and too an extent failure is unavoidable so again … what can we do? Here’s what we need to realize … failure may be inevitable but usually there are red flags along the way that if detected could save both the person and the ministry a horrible blow up. Accountability is so huge, especially in ministry. Sometimes, because of pride, leaders look at accountability as an invasion of privacy instead of a hedge of protection. We don’t want people asking us about finances because of course we are stewarding God’s money well! We don’t need to answer questions about counseling the opposite sex or what we do with our computer time because we are God’s servants and if anyone understands purity we do! People better not ask us about our family dynamics because obviously we can lead our families if we can lead a church. This type of mindset is riddled with pride. The thing is we should not only invite accountability, we should demand it. XXXchurch.com sees emails from pastors all of the time who slipped into habitual pornography viewing quite unintentionally and by in large they have no accountability. Maybe if they were running accountability software like X3watch their accountability partner would have confronted them earlier sparing them years of addiction and self-imposed shame. Everyone needs accountability but in ministry it is absolutely critical! Most men don’t start with child pornography or escorts … they start with porn. Most pastors don’t spontaneously start an affair; they do so because their relationships with women in the church weren’t being kept in check. If you don’t want the ministry God has blessed you with to end in disaster get accountable. Put in safe measures. Insist on a culture of transparency among your staff members. Install X3watch on all of your leaders’ digital devices and make sure they have trustworthy accountability partners in place who will love them but love God more. Yes, it may be uncomfortable. It may not be welcomed by all your staff. However, you are called to God and his churches first and foremost so fear of man issues aren’t going to cut it as far as the excuses go. If you love God, love your church, and love your staff you should insist and implement strong accountability measures because a red flag is easier to address than the aftermath of a scandal that may ensue.