I believe true accountability is to make myself accountable to others. This makes me responsible to be vulnerable with the people I am trusting to support me in my mess and joy. All too often we see it as other people’s responsibility to ask us the right questions–I may be willing to tell the truth if you ask, but I am not going to otherwise share anything uncomfortable.
I am a firm believer in leadership and personal accountability. In order to effectively make yourself accountable to the people you are called to lead, it is important to first develop the practice of transparency. Transparency is a discipline in which you invite people to speak into your life and choose to listen and consider their perspective instead of being defensive or withholding. As you learn to be transparent–especially as a leader–it becomes easier to make yourself accountable when specific situations or circumstances arise.
As the pastor, and speaking for our leadership in general, it has been extremely important to be transparent to our church family. One example where I believe we have been successfully transparent is in our finances. While there are some aspects of budgeting that may not be appropriate to share publicly, we have been quite forthright in keeping you all abreast of where we stand and I have always sought out other people to contribute to and track our budgeting.
I’ve had both positive and traumatic experiences with church leaders throughout my life. Right now I’m reading a book titled, “A Church Called TOV” by Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer. While the majority of the book is about establishing a culture of “good” (the Hebrew word is TOV), they spend a couple chapters looking at the kinds of leaders that do damage and disservice to the people God has entrusted to them to serve. One area where church leaders tend to drop the ball is in staff transitions (or big transitions in general). If you’ve been in church circles very long you’ve probably been in a church service or meeting where a staff member was being “released” or “sent” to follow God’s call in a new direction. I’ve been there–both in the audience and as the “releasee”–and you are often left with more questions than answers. The more cynical of us hear that language and assume the person is being fired and get really curious about the juicy details.
As I reflect on the transitions we have been through–staff and otherwise–I want to take a moment to be transparent and accountable to you all. We have had a good number of staff, building and directional transitions over the last several years, some fairly benign, some wonderful and some not so pleasant. I think we have made every effort to be above board and honest in these situations. Even so, I would not be shocked to find that, despite our efforts to honor people leaving or not speak ill of people or other churches, some of you may have been left with questions.
So, here’s the deal. If you have questions about our CTK staff transitions, the building transition, specific questions about finances–anything, really–please ask. There are two scenarios I want to avoid. One is that you are out there with a wild story in your head about what might have happened in a given situation based on your own imagination or gossip or a past experience. I also want the opportunity to be accountable to you. There will be ways I may not have managed situations well or failed to articulate clearly what was going on. I want to be able to own my stuff and get better at leading well. Chances are, if you have a question on your mind there are others with the same thought. Here is my commitment to you:
- I will be honest.
- I will be wise–not everything is appropriate to share, but I will share whatever I can.
- If you have an issue that involves me, you are able to meet with the Elders instead.
- I will always encourage you to speak to the other people involved to get their perspectives as well.
What do you think?