On February 26, 1995, Barings, the oldest bank in Britain, announced it was seeking bankruptcy protection after losing nearly one billion dollars in a stock gamble. At the time Barings went under, the bank held assets for Queen Elizabeth, some $100 million according to Time magazine.
In late 1994, the chief trader at Barings's Singapore office began betting big on Japan's Nikkei market. Then disaster struck. An earthquake hit Kobe, Japan, and on January 23, 1995, the Nikkei plunged more than one thousand points.
Barings Bank lost big money. But instead of cutting his losses, Barings's Singapore trader doubled his investment, apparently hoping that the Nikkei would rebound. It didn't. As the Nikkei continued to plummet, Barings's London office put up nearly $900 million to support its falling position on the Singapore investments. Finally Barings ran out of capital and declared bankruptcy.
How could one twenty-eight-year-old trader in Singapore lose nearly a billion dollars and ruin a 233-year-old British bank? According to Time, the problem was lack of supervision.
London allowed (the Singapore trader) to take control of both the trading desk and the backroom settlement operation in Singapore. It is a mix that can be, and in this was, toxic. For a trader to keep his own books is like a schoolboy getting to grade his own tests; the temptation to cheat can be overwhelming, particularly if the stakes are high enough.
1. Without accountability, temptation becomes all the more tempting. Accountability protects us from ourselves.
TONIGHT, I AM GOING TO SPEAK ON THE SUBJECT OF ACCOUNTABILITY.
I. FIRST, THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD.
Aaron was an eleven-year-old boy whose behavior was described by Dr. William Glasser, his psychiatrist, as horrible. In his book, Reality Therapy, Glasser says Aaron was the most obnoxious child he had ever met. The boy would kick, scream, run away and hide, become withdrawn, disrupt his classes and make everyone disgusted with him.
Dr. Glasser saw one problem with Aaron that no one else observed: "No one had ever told him that he was doing wrong." No one had ever set limits on what he could do and not do. The psychiatrist decided to try a completely new tack. The boy would have to behave, to act reasonable, or be punished. He responded remarkably. "Probably because he had been anxious for so long to be treated in a realistic way." Thus he became courteous, well behaved, and his miserable grades went to straight A's. For the first time in his life Aaron began to play constructively with other children, to enjoy honest relationships with others, and to stop blaming his troubles on his mother or other people.
Dr. Glasser calls this "reality therapy" and says one of an individual's greatest needs is to be made to realize that he is personally accountable for what he does.
1. I think Dr. Glasser got his idea for reality therapy from the Bible.
2. Everyday, God holds us accountable for our actions and deeds.
3. In our lives, we may be able to hide our character flaws and sins from our families, our friends, and our church. But we cannot hide anything from God. God evaluates everything that we do.
4. Since we are accountable to God, we need to make sure that we are always striving to please Him by obeying His commandments.
II. SECOND, THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO ONE ANOTHER.
1. Some things taught in Scripture make us so uncomfortable, we tend to ignore them. The notion of being personally accountable to someone else for our actions is certainly one of them.
2. Accountability is not a new concept. Each of us is accountable in many ways to different organizations and people. If you have a job, you are accountable to your employer, who expects certain things of you. If you are married, you are accountable. Your spouse and your family expect certain things.
3. But when it comes to our character and spiritual development, we are prone to resist accountability. "After all," we reason, "that's between me and God. It's nobody else's business."
4. Yet the Bible teaches that we as brothers and sisters in Christ are to be accountable to one another.
5. Accountability is a relationship between believers wherein one has invited the other to monitor the development of character in one or more areas.
6. Accountability may not be specifically mentioned here, but it is assumed.
7. How does accountability work?
a. As Christians, we should give our brothers and sisters in Christ the invitation to evaluate our character and spiritual development.
(1) Brethren, if I am doing something wrong and sinful, please tell me about it. Since you’re my family, you should want to help me overcome anything that could cause me to lose my salvation, my family, or lose my effectiveness for the Lord.
(2) As true genuine Christians, we should welcome correction.
b. As Christians, we must have the courage to speak to people who are in need of correction.
On Monday, February 6, 1995, according to the Chicago Tribune, a Detroit bus driver finished his shift on the Route 21 bus and headed for the terminal. But somehow he took a wrong turn. He didn't arrive at the terminal at the scheduled time of 7:19 P.M., and a short time later his supervisors started looking for him. Meanwhile the driver's wife called the terminal and reported her husband might be disoriented from medication he was taking.
For six hours, the forty-foot city bus and its driver could not be found. Finally the state police found the bus and driver--two hundred miles northwest of Detroit. The bus was motoring slowly down a rural two-lane road, weaving slightly from side to side. The police pulled the bus over, and the driver said he was lost.
A police news release later stated, "The driver had no idea where he was and agreed he had made a wrong turn somewhere. Apparently this had not occurred to him during the four hours he drove without finding the bus depot."
Unless we confront those who have taken a wrong turn in life, they may never regain their orientation.
(1) As faithful servants of the Lord, we must approach people in a loving and gentle way when they make a wrong turn in life. We must approach them because we are accountable to one another.
(2) If we love the souls of people, we must show that love by encouraging people to leave their life of sin.
1. Tonight, we have seen that we are accountable to God and to one another. We should welcome the loving correction that we receive from of our brothers and sisters in Christ. But most importantly, we must welcome the correction that we receive from the Word of God.
2. If you are not living your life according the will of God, then tonight may be the time for you to admit your faults, be accountable for your sins, and allow God to heal your spiritual heart. If you are subject to the Lord's invitation, please come as we stand and sing.