The Power of Accountability

In the last blog, we discussed the power of community to overcome challenges. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d recommend giving it a read so that we’re all on the same page to continue the discussion.

This series is all about understanding the value that community adds to our lives. This go around, we will consider community as it relates to accountability. Accountability is arguably one of the key motivating forces behind the potential of any given community.

There often seems to be a disconnect between what is, and what could be. If you’re anything like me, then you’ve probably come to the realization that life isn’t perfect. If you haven’t, then I’m sorry. I’m not sure that this article will be of use to you because you’re self-sustainable (and likely in denial). However, if you aren’t perfect, then let me introduce you to the concept of accountability. Accountability refers to a mutual responsibility or liability to another person or group of people. It is one of our most powerful tools to see change and growth in our lives, relationships, and the culture of our communities. 

The problem with accountability lies not in accountability itself, but with our experience of it. Not only is it uncomfortable, it demands that you do something you’re probably not accustomed to doing. The sad reality is that we’re not likely to implement something we learn if it does not relate to our experience (Doviak, 42). True accountable relationships are a rare occurrence. So, unless you have experienced the benefits of accountability, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t go about trying it. 

Unless… you have experienced accountability in community.

The power of community is such that it provides a framework for positive accountable relationships. You might be wondering how accountability exists outside of community; surely they rely on each other. To an extent, you’re right. However, the results of genuine accountability demand a mutual commitment to working together to achieve a certain outcome. You can be responsible to someone like a boss or manager and not experience the benefits of an accountable relationships. A co-worker may be a liability to you or your organization’s success because of under qualification or poor work ethic.

Genuine accountability demands a MUTUAL commitment between the two parties to work towards a goal. The more people involved in that commitment, the stronger the community becomes and the more beneficial the relationships are. The result is striding intentional towards your community’s goals. 

As a Christian, a lot of my thoughts are committed to understanding life and community in the context of my faith. That perspective informs me that accountability does not demand perfect unity. It is not synonymous to living without problems or disagreement. It does mean that genuine communities will commit to moving forward towards their common purpose despite their differences. That is where the power of community is found; not in what distinguishes us from one another, but in what unites us. Here’s an exercise of accountability I want you to try: Think of a co-worker, team mate, or family member that you can’t seem to get along with. No matter the reason, I want you to think about if it could be worth re-establishing a connection with them. If you decide that there would be some mutual benefit by cultivating that relationship, approach them and ask for a mutual commitment to working on it together. Hold each other accountable despite your differences and see what fruit comes from that relationship. 

Lachlan Harders is a student at Avondale College in Austrailia and part of the Press Together global team.

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