Last week, in the midst of dealing with a national leadership dispute in which the issue of a “lack of accountability” was front and center, I had a dream. Actually, it was more of a picture, but I was asleep.
In it, I saw a major leader in the body of Messiah. This person has as much influence in the church as anyone. He was in a circle with about a dozen or more men. It seemed like a men’s retreat. He was also taller than everyone else by about a foot, and that seemed to symbolize that he was the leader. Now for the weird part: They were all in white T-shirts and white briefs.
I woke up almost immediately and quickly received what I believe was the interpretation.
I felt that the white T-shirts and the white underwear were symbolic of two things:
1. God is going to cause all of us to be seen naked, as we really are. He’s going to take away the façade. We see in Hebrews 4:13, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” The fact that they all were in their underwear was symbolic of transparency for the pure, being exposed for the impure.
2. The good news is that they were all in white. I believe that was symbolic that this leader will take a leading role in what is written below because he is living a life of accountability and purity.
Are you accountable?
’Are you a leader? If so, I have a very simple question for you. If someone were to bring an accusation against you, to whom would they turn? The Bible speaks of bringing accusations against elders:
Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. (1 Tim. 5:19-20)
The New Testament assumes that the congregations will be governed by a board of elders. It speaks of the “elders who direct the affairs of the congregation.” (1 Tim. 5:17) There is no such thing in the New Covenant as an elder-less congregation, where one leader has all authority. But, all over America, we see pastors who treat their congregations as their own personal start- up or business. They own it.
One of the first things Paul and his team did, when they planted a congregation, was to appoint elders:
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you. (Titus 1:5)
Elders are God’s plan to govern the congregation. You might notice that I highlighted two words: govern and team. I love those words. They protect me as a leader, and they protect you as the body.
Notice that Paul did not say that it is the senior leader who governs the affairs of the congregation. Nor does he say that it is Mr. and Mrs. Pastor who have that responsibility. It is the elders. The question that I have is: Can those elders remove you? Do they have legal power to bring discipline and/or even removal to the senior leader?
What if the senior leader is caught stealing? What if he cheats on his wife? What if someone sees this? Where do they go? This is not Matthew 18, which is for personal hurts and disputes. It would seem that the concerned party would go straight to a board of elders. (1 Tim. 5:19)
Often, when someone brings an accusation directly to a leader, he or she is made to feel ashamed. “How dare you! Do you know who I am? I am God’s anointed!” Blah, Blah, Blah… I have seen so many who have been shamed by pastors and wounded by the counter-attacks of manipulative, self-centered leaders who more concerned about preserving their position than righteousness.
We can do something!
After the Jim Bakker scandal in the late 80’s, we saw the formation of the ECFA that demanded financial accountability in the church. But we have thousands of independent charismatic churches and ministries where the leaders have no accountability. We have mega-rich, superstar ministers who are untouchable.
What if there were a similar organization, whereby, if you wanted their seal on your website to show prospective congregants and donors, you had to provide a list of men to whom you were accountable.
In the recent public scandal, if there had been a clearly defined team of elders, to whom the senior leader was submitted, much of this negative publicity could have been avoided. The person who was bringing the charges could have simply appealed to this group. But there was no accountability and, thus, no choice but to go public, as the leader stonewalled him and even maligned his character.
What if there were a CCPA—The Charismatic Council for Personal Accountability? Or some other acronym. The name is not important; the function could be life-changing. Since I have been a youth pastor back in 1987, I have been submitted to the same accountability team. In Tikkun, our Global Messianic Family, every leader is accountable. And we are submitted to each other. Sometimes people from the outside have issued complaints. Against me, that has happened twice. Sometimes, we have had internal conflicts that were resolved by the senior leadership team.
So many problems in the Body today could be quickly resolved if leaders were accountable to other leaders. I do believe God is highlighting this issue through the recent public scandal (for lack of a better term). Will you pray that leaders will willingly come into deeper accountability?