27 Therefore, as I said unto you that I had served you, walking with a clear conscience before God, even so I at this time have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together, that I might be found blameless, and that your blood should not come upon me, when I shall stand to be judged of God of the things whereof he hath commanded me concerning you.
28 I say unto you that I have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together that I might rid my garments of your blood, at this period of time when I am about to go down to my grave, that I might go down in peace, and my immortal spirit may join the choirs above in singing the praises of a just God.
accountable – Required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible
Central to the definition of accountability is the obligation, at some future time, to account for one’s actions. For example, speaking to the young people of the Church earlier this month, President Russell M. Nelson explained why he was so anxious to enlist their help in the gathering of Israel:
Think of this, my dear young brothers and sisters, right now I am preparing for the day when I will be required to give an accounting to the Prophet Joseph Smith, to President Brigham Young, and others—and ultimately to the Lord—about my stewardship as God’s prophet upon the earth today. I do not want to be asked, “Brother Nelson, why were you not more clear with the youth about their part in gathering Israel? Why were you not more bold in enlisting them to participate?”
So, now I am inviting every young woman and every young man between the ages of 12 and 18 in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to enlist in the youth battalion of the Lord to help gather Israel.
(“Hope of Israel,” Worldwide Youth Devotional, 3 June 2018)
At work, in my church callings, and in my community responsibilities, I have found that I am more diligent and conscientious when I am aware that I will have to account for my decisions and actions. For example, at work, we are going to begin holding mid-year review meetings beginning next Monday. Knowing that I will be required to speak about my contributions to my employer during the first six months of the year motivates me to contribute meaningfully so that I can approach that conversation with confidence.
Like President Nelson, King Benjamin was aware that he would one day stand before God and have to account for his actions as a leader of his people. As he tells them in the passage above, he called them together at the end of his life to give them words of counsel, so that he could go to his grave in peace. He tells them that his goal is to “rid [his] garments of [their] blood.” What does that mean? As we read yesterday, a parent is at least partially culpable when their children follow their bad examples. Likewise, a spiritual leader bears some of the blame for their followers’ bad choices if they have not taught them clearly right from wrong. (See Jacob 1:19.) Benjamin wanted to be sure that he had fulfilled his responsibility as a leader before standing in God’s presence. He did not want the sins of the people attached to him like a stain because he hadn’t done enough to teach them.
Today, I will remember my accountability to God for my own actions and also for my leadership responsibilities. I will remember the inevitability of a future meeting with Him in which I will have to answer for my actions. Like King Benjamin and like President Nelson, I will strive to be the best parent and leader I can be so that I will be prepared for that future meeting.