Accountability and the Minister
by Pastor Bob Yandian

Since 1980, Bob Yandian has been pastor of Grace Church, with a vibrant and growing congregation in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Bob is widely acknowledged as one of the most knowledgeable Bible teachers of this generation. Bob has traveled extensively throughout the United States and internationally, taking his powerful and easy to apply teachings that bring stability and hope to hungry hearts everywhere. He has authored over thirty books and has been called “a pastor to pastors.” Bob and his wife, Loretta, have been married for over thirty years, are the parents of two grown married children, and have four grandchildren. Bob and Loretta Yandian reside in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Be sure to check out Bob Yandian’s 2010 Ministers’ Conference (March 3-5).  Speakers include Bob Yandian, Joyce Meyer, and Andrew Wommack.

As ministers across the country fall into moral sins and have to step down from their pulpits by personal decision or board mandates, the cry of many seems to be, “where was the accountability?” Organizations are set up for accountability and many join. Yet, the problems still persist. Where do we as ministers go for accountability?

Many of the phone calls I receive as a pastor are from other pastors. They want to know if I could be a covering for their church or their own personal lives.

“May I be accountable to your church? I live in a remote area of the country and would like to know that I could call on you as my personal covering. I would like to have someone to be accountable to if I have problems or I sin.” I understand their need and their feeling of being alone. Our own weaknesses can be frightening, but does accountability begin with others? Where do pastors think I go if I sin? If I go to someone else, where do they go? If you join a denomination where do they go for accountability? Although ministerial organizations are a blessing, they many times fall short when it comes to standing accountable for your church and ministry. You are only as safe as the one you go to for accountability. If you lived on a desert island, could you be accountable? The answer is yes. So, where does accountability begin?

The world says, “to thine own self be true”. This sounds good, but who can trust themselves? I know I have let myself down many times as I know you have. We often become our own worst enemy as we make vows to change our lifestyle and then fail miserably. Accountability must be outside of ourselves because each one of us has limitations. But why should we begin by depending on others who have many of the same limitations also? Accountability begins as high as we can go. Accountability begins with God.

Accountability goes hand in hand with the priorities of life. Correct priorities cause success to come and remain. Priorities also help us to keep our joy, sanity and health as we rise in position and become more successful. The priorities of the believer, pastor and congregational member alike are:

1. God. This includes:

a. Daily study of the word

b. Daily prayer and meditation

c. Daily worship

d. Weekly church attendance

e. Church involvement

2. Our mate and family. This includes:

a. Time to talk

b. Time for fellowship and intimacy

c. Times of entertainment

d. Vacations and time off

3. Our vocation. This includes:

a. Being on time

b. Putting in a full day

c. Getting the job done well

God must be our first priority. Ministers, if you really want to be accountable, get on your knees and begin with your relationship with God. In prayer ask the Lord to examine your heart and reveal anything which is against His will. If there are any impure motives, goals or aspirations, ask the Lord to expose and forgive them. You might want to pray the prayer David prayed. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23). We also know if we have sinned, God will forgive. He is faithful and just to forgive us (I John 1:9).

Mate and family are our next areas of accountability. Wives, confide in your husbands. Husbands confide in your wife. Tell her you are accountable to her for your relationship with other women. Tell her that if you even look at another woman in a wrong manner she is to tell you. There are women you work around during the day and fellowship with during church. They are not to be chased after mentally or physically. If you truly love your wife, you are accountable to her in your covenant relationship of marriage. “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid (single woman)?” (Job 31:1)

Occupation is the last area of accountability. There are areas of the ministry where you need accountability to someone else. A church board is not an evil thing. At the point of choosing a board, many ministers decide to go outside of the church for help. I have seen church boards made up of outside ministers many miles away. It is a tragedy for ministers not to trust those within the church for church related matters. When something goes wrong with the pastor’s personal life, those outside of the church have to be informed of the situation and make a decision based on sketchy information.

Those within the church live with the good and not so good every day. If you as a pastor truly want to be accountable, pull together a group of men or couples who love the church and you as the pastor. Give them specific areas of responsibility over your own life. Tell them they have full rights to speak to you if you are giving out the appearance of evil in morals, finances or doctrine. If you are being too friendly with the opposite sex in the congregation, you need to know. It could save a lot of embarrassment later when a jealous husband or wife sees what you should have seen a long time ago. If you are not handling money in the proper manner, it is better to be approached about it now than by the authorities later. If you really want to be accountable, have an audit made on your books once a year by a credible firm outside of your church. You should also be approachable over your doctrines.

I am not only referring to small areas of difference between us, but major doctrines we all hold to. The virgin birth, salvation by faith, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, divine healing and the return of Jesus are all areas we need to adhere to. It is better to be approachable now and possibly save a church split later. Most ministers are sensitive to reproof and correction by others. We all seem to think we are above reproach, but this should not be so. Hypersensitivity to the input of others is arrogance. Just because others are not in the five fold ministry does not mean they have nothing to offer into our lives. I have had some of the greatest input into my ministry from members of the congregation and church board. After prayer I have discovered that many people are smarter than I am in many areas of life. I do not have the final word on everything. Remaining teachable is a never ending part of the ministry.

So where does this leave our relationship to each other as ministers? How about counsel and fellowship? First of all, counsel before a problem gets out hand is better than salvaging a situation afterwards. “Where no counsel is, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors, there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). A minister’s organization can and should be your multitude of counselors. I cannot tell you how many meetings I have gone to and sat beside a minister who was going through or coming out of the same problem I was in. What a great time of counsel we had together. I also begin to see there is no new problem Satan can throw at me. He uses the same problems on all ministers and churches everywhere. “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established (stabilized)” (Proverbs 15:22). You can use counsel from other ministers also for your plans and purposes. New youth programs, fellowships or building plans can be established as you meet with other ministers who have come through what you going through now.

The other responsibility we have toward each other is fellowship. Fellowship was not only necessary for the success of the infant local church (Acts 2:42), but also for the disciples and ministers throughout the New Testament. John told us, “that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us” (I John 1:3). David said it is good,”…for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). Nothing can replace the friends in the ministry I have come to know through the years and I know you feel the same way. You may not see those friends but once a year at a minister’s conference. When you do, you take up where you left off the year before. Their phone calls and letters are more welcome than anyone’s.