We like to think that we should build our relationships on trust. We believe that trust is a value that we owe to one another and that others owe to us. Accountability seems like the opposite of trust. “Why do you want me to report to you? Don’t you trust me?” This misunderstanding of trust as something that we should give to one another without anything coming back is another sign that accountability systems are missing or aren’t working. Forgiveness is free, but trust is expensive. The price of trust is the performance and behavior which demonstrates trustworthiness. Accountability is simply the process that confirms the trustworthiness. Think of trust as a beautiful statue. Trustworthiness is the pedestal of performance upon which the stature rests. Fail to maintain the pedestal by ignoring accountability and watch how it weakens the relationship until trust is dashed to pieces. When I meet with a church board for the first time, the board members invest a certain amount of trust into my “trust account.” After all, I’ve been invited by their leaders, and come with some credentials and a recommendation from another church. During my presentation, however, they will make their own assessment. This is the normal and natural process of accountability. If what I say demonstrates my willingness to listen and my ability to meet their needs, they may deposit more trust into my account. A contract to work with them usually follows. But were I to make light of their situation, insult them and demonstrate no sensitivity to their real needs, their deposit of trust would soon be “spent.” The negative balance in my trust account would result in never being invited to return.
“pages 13-14, Church Governance Matters”