Jun 07 2008

The Myth of Accountability and Team Leadership

I am confident that the universal answer from most any Church that has a group of leaders is they have a TEAM accountability fully equipped with stories where the big leader has been reigned in and had his mind or heart changed by someone’s gallant opposition. >shrug< Of course, they have stories to affirm their practice.

So, what follows is my take on Accountability and TEAM Leadership…at its heart and soul the idea is a myth. I’ll make my point with a conversation I had with a Pastor. The conversation that I recount really did happen.
During my conversation that serve as background for this lengthy muse, a Pastor of an Independent Charismatic Church said to me: “Are you accountable to men, John?”

I asked this pastor what that meant; to be accountable. “Well, who speaks into your life and holds you accountable for your actions?”

“Anyone who has truth,” I replied.

“You know what I mean. If you are not in church on Sunday, you are out there by yourself. It is easy to be deceived. It is easy to fall into sin.”

Hang on, we’ll get back to my Independent Charismatic Church Pastor in a minute. I need to digress…

It is funny when INDEPENDENT Church leaders speak forcibly about accountability. By definition, an independent church is well…independent, which means that at some point the STARTER of that independent church decided he WASN’T accountable to Church Leadership. The story is always the same. Somewhere in the Independent Church’s past deciding he didn’t like what his “leader” preached.

The non-leader decided he can preach the truth better. He leaves and starts his own church. He becomes the leader. What happened to that submission and accountability?

Independent Church leaders talking about submission and accountability is an oxymoron.

I know. I know. Independent Church leaders have a ministry TEAM. That team is submitted to each other.

I love this logic too.

The story usually goes like this: the guy who initiated the split and started the INDEPENDENT church has recruited some other partners in the split…oops, church planting…he appoints them LEADERSHIP and hands out various titles—not that it is about the title, mind you…


Anyway, these men bearing titles become the leadership “TEAM” of the new church. And now, magically, to prevent error, this Team enforces some form of mutual accountability; the leadership team has an equal power to influence and uphold truth.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

It doesn’t happen.

How can I be so sure? Because people are people and plenty of books have been written on group dynamics and the emergence of leading personalities, the emergence of Alpha Male and Beta Males, the pecking order between the Big Dog and the Runts, recruiter and recruitees–these are sociological inevitabilities.

The leaders that recruit others by default establish themselves as the arbiters of who is right and who is wrong: who is authentic and who is not, who is in and who is out, who has authority and who doesn’t.

As a rule, the recruiter personalities are strong Alpha personalities. How else would they have the temerity to set themselves apart? Alpha personalities are by definition loner personalities. Loner personalities do NOT put themselves in a position to defer to anyone, which means they don’t recruit others like themselves. They just don’t.

They DO recruit those who tend to support their role as leader. They just DO.

So, you have a group of people selected by one man for the primary purpose of supporting his/her leadership.

How exactly do a bunch of follower personalities–recruitees, runts, and Beta Males—ever stand up to the forcefulness of an Alpha personality? To stand against the Recruiter, the Big Dog, the Alpha Male, is to undercut the very person that authenticated them. The larger the church, the more notoriety, the less likely it is that anyone can reign in the Recruiter, the Big Dog, the Alpha Male. And if the Alpha has his name on the Marquee, who can really hold him in check?

I am confident you all know the answer to that question.

So, now let’s continue visiting my conversation with the Pastor of an Independent Charismatic Church. Remember, I asked this pastor what that meant; to be submitted. And he said: “You know what I mean. If you are not in church on Sunday, you are out there by yourself. It is easy to be deceived and fall into sin.”

I asked, “Who are you accountable to?” I knew he would have names. I also knew he wouldn’t name anyone in his church.

“Friends,” he said, “Long time acquaintances that had shared similar ministry passions: a kindred spirit. We have team accountability.”

“Where are these men?” He rattled off their locations scattered around the globe. Practically, this means that the pastor sees these men two weeks a year when they come through town.

Friends? Team? Two weeks a year?

Hummmm. Interesting.

I said to him, “So…let me get this straight. My accountability is expressed by me attending church every Sunday. And the goal of my accountability is to prevent falling into sin. So it is the frequency of your scrutiny and the abundance of your words that keeps me from sinning?”

Anybody else see the problem here?

Anybody else see the glaring double standard?

He is saved from deception with two weeks a year from FRIENDS–oops, his Team. I on the other hand must be in church 52 weeks a year listening to a PASTOR and suffering his scrutiny or risk falling into sin.

So I said to him: “So riddle me this. If God’s opinion, blood sacrifice, and Holy Spirit is not enough to stop my sinning action, what does it say if I will be more motivated to successfully curtail my sinning action for a man?”

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    1. 6

      Hi John,

      Great site! I am looking forward to all of the fun.

    2. 7

      Which party, Republican or Democratic? :dsadsad:

    3. 8

      Bring your party hat, Dennis… :sd:

    4. 9

      I did not mean to break up the party with such a bad joke. Where did everyone go?

    5. 10

      Oh, they’re here… dancing in the shadows, laughing … uh, near you.

      They’ll come out and play when they keep reading really cool substantive commentary.

      So… comment away!

      yeee haww!

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