Submitted by the Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter
Rebekah Simon-Peter Coaching and Consulting Inc.
Accountability is the third quantum leap of faith Jesus invites us to make. Granted, accountability is not as sexy as empowerment or as intriguing as multiplying ourselves—quantum leaps 1 and 2. In fact, nobody much wants to be accountable these days. Who can blame us? After all, who wants to bear responsibility for a sluggish denominational system or a congregation in decline or a world that seems to be falling apart?
Accountability has gotten a bad name unnecessarily. It doesn’t start with unwieldy systems or unresponsive groups. Accountability starts much closer to home; it’s about taking responsibility for fulfilling our own giftedness and maximizing our own potential. Just as Jesus was accountable to the Father for fulfilling his call we, too, are called to live fully into the gifts we have received.
In this article, I want to show you how to own your giftedness and be accountable for living into your potential.
Merriam-Webster defines accountability as “required to explain actions or decisions to someone,” or “required to be responsible for something.” Both Abraham and Moses hold God accountable for actions. (Gen 18:22-33; Ex 32:11-14) Jesus is accountable to God (John 6:37-40). The disciples/apostles were accountable to Jesus. It makes sense that we would be accountable, too. After all, to whom much has been given, much will be required.
For example, Jesus teaches the apostles everything he knows. He then sends them out to use their newfound gifts. Sometimes it works out well, as when the 72 return with joy saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name!” (Luke 10:17).
Other times, it doesn’t go as well. The disciples/apostles are accountable for that too. Remember the distraught dad who comes to Jesus with his boy in tow? “My son has seizures and is suffering terribly,” this Dad says to Jesus. “I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.” Jesus rebukes the demon, and it comes out of him, and the boy is healed instantly. The disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “How come we couldn’t cast it out?” “No faith,” Jesus responds, more or less. “Even a mustard seed has more faith than you do!” This is clearly hyperbole. It’s the kind of thing Jesus would say to people who know they have faith. It’s part jest, part challenge; part familiarity, part frustration. (Luke 10:14-20)
Jesus rebukes the disciples not because they are deficient. But because they are so much more than they are letting on. They have been with him for years. They have watched Jesus perform miracles. They themselves have performed miracles. He knows they can do it.
With these examples in mind, let’s look at 3 ways you can take the leap of faith that accountability requires. These three ways include: what you have been taught, what you have been given, and where you are spending your time.
1. Ask yourself: What have I been taught? Am I using it? My friend Jeff has very generous parents. When he was growing up, his parents took in friends of his who had been kicked out of their own families. These friends were invited to live in his home and become part of the family. He grew up with these friends being included in all the day to day activities. Inclusion became part of his DNA. Since then, Jeff has adopted children, developed a large extended family of relatives and friends, and been generous with his own earnings. My friend has taken the leap of faith of accountability for what he has been taught.
2. Ask yourself: What have I been given much of? Am I using it? Rev. Katherine, who completed Creating a Culture of Renewal, had a gift for creativity and imagination. She had been afraid of using it in the church, having been admonished, “Don’t make any changes in the first year.” She knew this church didn’t have a year. If they maintained the status quo, it would be too late. She took a risk and developed a big bold vision for establishing covenant groups. Out of that vision, other creative visions emerged: community gardens, becoming a reconciling congregation, and local mission projects. Rev. Katherine has clearly taken the leap of accountability for developing her giftedness. She’s happy and fulfilled. Not only that, her church is beginning to flourish.
3. Ask yourself: Am I saying yes and no to the right things? Jesus said “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” Pastor Trish knew the scripture. She had been eager for years to develop a women’s ministry. It was her passion. But for years she said no to her passion, and yes to what everyone else wanted her to do. Finally, she worked up the courage to say no to other requests, and yes to the yearning within her own soul. At the initial meeting for this ministry, 9 out of 14 women responded enthusiastically to join her in her passion. Pastor Trish had faith in this idea; she finally used it!
When we become accountable for our own giftedness and our own potential, not only do we flourish, but so do the people and groups around us. Jesus invites you to take this leap of faith now. It means owning what you love; and doing what is natural and joyful for you. What’s stopping you?
If you can’t get past the barriers, reach out to me, and let’s see if we can create a way for you to leap forward. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.