Finding Safe Accountability as a Christian Leader

Finding Safe Accountability as a Christian Leader

Part 3

by MT Wilson—LPC, BCC

In my first two articles, we recognized the need for Christian leaders to have safe and vulnerable accountability relationships with others. We've also been honest about the particular difficulties for finding such unique individuals. But what should a Christian leader do when a safe person can't be found among other ministry colleagues or in our other contexts where trustworthy relationships might normally be discovered and cultivated? Here are a few thoughts, recommended as either a part of the ultimate solution or as short to mid-range solutions to "fill up what's lacking" while safe relationships from the previously mentioned contexts are being cultivated:

Support groups in a neighboring town. Until such a person in one of the previous categories can be found (or more likely, fostered over time), some leaders find benefit driving to a Celebrate Recovery or men's ministry located in a nearby community. Making the sacrifice to drive an hour each way to embrace authentic community beyond the "pastor mask" may be well worth the drive, especially when podcasts and phone calls can redemptively fill the time in transit.

Counselors and recovery coaches. Sometimes, no one is readily available with whom we feel safe or for whom we have a desire for that level of personal disclosure. Even when trusted individuals can be identified, they take time to grow to a trust deep enough for such intimate sharing to naturally occur. For leaders located in more remote areas, support groups in neighboring towns simply may not be a viable option. Such leaders can benefit from asking a Christian counselor or recovery coach to walk alongside them for a season, an increasing number of which (like me) are now accessible virtually by phone and video conference. This is especially true when compulsive/addictive behaviors are a part of needed accountability, as those who have real struggles with sexual integrity.

Remember, many (if not most) of the above relationships may not be readily available to a Christian leader who hasn't yet intentionally pursued and fostered such relationships historically. For those on the front end of such a journey, know this: these relationships will have to be more cultivated than discovered. I share an easy-to-follow, step-by-step process for cultivating friendships from surface level toward deeper intimacy in my book, Preventing Ministry Failure (InterVarsity Press, 2007).

It's easy for a Christian leader to read an article like this and say, "That's too much work", "that's professionally dangerous", or "I don't have time for that." Yes, it is a lot of work, risky and time-consuming. But such excuses could make us more vulnerable to becoming part of the 25% of Christian leaders force-terminated at some point in their ministry, many for reasons of moral failure. When it comes to ensuring long-term and sustainable effectiveness in ministry, an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure.

Part 2

Michael Todd Wilson is a licensed mental health counselor, certified sex therapist and board certified coach. He currently provides leader coaching and sexual integrity coaching through

MT is also the author of: Unburdened Preventing Ministry Failure Soul Virgins
Posted: Feb 8, 2016,
Categories: Men, Women,
Comments: 0,
Author: MT Wilson
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