the accountability factor
A comptroller talks about accountability…finance-based and faith-based.
by Craig Mahler
Read more about Free Will Baptist Bible College at www.fwbbc.edu.
TRADITION SAYS THE APPROPRIATE GIFT for the fifth wedding anniversary is a wooden item. While a modest gift of this kind can normally be purchased for a loved one for a few hundred dollars, Corporate America recently “celebrated” the fifth anniversary of an arranged marriage that will drain millions of dollars from corporate bank accounts. The union was forged with the signing of The American Competitiveness and Corporate Accountability Act of 2002, better known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
The legislation was penned in response to a series of corporate scandals involving improper accounting techniques that led to the misstatement of company financials—and ultimately—the prosecution and subsequent conviction of numerous well-known and respected members of the corporate community.
Just as the intent of the legislation was to restore financial accountability public corporations, the Word of God (which, by the way, has been the standard of accountability for generations) sets forth the same principle for the Christian, both individually and corporately.
Although each publicly traded company is responsible to many, the organization primarily answers to the owner or primary stockholder. Failure to maintain or increase the value of the stockholder’s investment is fiscally irresponsible.
In the same way, Christians should faithfully manage the resources God has placed in our care. This personal responsibility must encompass all aspects of our daily life. It is important that we heed the command of Paul by glorifying God in all that we say and do.
God has blessed each of us with a unique ministry and equipped us to be faithful managers by increasing His “investment” in us. When we understand that everything belongs to God and is merely “on loan” to us, it is far easier to dedicate ourselves to the task of leading others to Christ through daily interaction. In business terminology, our task is to increase “the bottom line” by producing “net income” for the Kingdom.
When Jesus called the 12 disciples in Matthew 4, He promised to make them soul winners if they faithfully followed Him. We have the same promise. Our “bottom line” for the Kingdom is to reach others, so they too experience assurance of salvation and the transforming presence of God.
That’s why we must ask for God’s protection the appearance of evil. Do you know the heartbreaking reality about the scandals that led to the ratification of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act? The lives of many innocent individuals were adversely affected through no choice of their own.
It is the same when Christians are slothful or lack discipline. Not only can the financial well being of others be affected, but our actions have an eternal impact.
Face the Facts
So how do the architects of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act ensure that accountability is restored to the business community? The answer is the audit, a thorough examination of company financials by an independent and unbiased source.
Christians too face a thorough examination that is both necessary and profitable for every child of God, and God is the examiner! Churches and individuals often fall into the trap of comparing themselves to others. We must remember that we are accountable to God individually. We will answer to Him for every action.
Here’s a provoking and sobering thought—many of us are not as responsible with God’s investment in our lives as we think we are, or as others think we are. With that in mind, we must take whatever measures are necessary to restore accountability to God. Start today. After all, God’s final audit is already scheduled.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Reverend Craig Mahler is comptroller at Free Will Baptist Bible College. He serves as youth pastor at First Free Will Baptist Church in Carthage, Tennessee.