It was beyond frustrating! We’d purchased a large, expensive air-conditioning unit for our home in hot and humid Brisbane, Australia, and on installation the unit had turned out to be defective. It was under warranty, so I visited the retailer, who told me to contact the installer, who directed me to the manufacturer’s service agent, who sent me to the manufacturer, who told me to go back to the installer. No one, it seemed, wanted to be held accountable for the cost of replacing the malfunctioning unit, even though it was someone’s responsibility to do so.
After many weeks and phone calls, there was still no accountability from anyone involved. So, as I’ve done with other confrontational situations in my life, I decided to pause and pray. I knew from experience that this would calm my thinking and guide me, opening the door to a just resolution.
I recalled something Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science and founder of The Christian Science Monitor, once wrote: “It should be thoroughly understood that all men have one Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love. Mankind will become perfect in proportion as this fact becomes apparent, war will cease and the true brotherhood of man will be established” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 467).
It didn’t seem to be the case that we all had one Mind! But reasoning from the basis of this idea, I realized I had to change my view of those involved. Rather than defining them as uncooperative, I acknowledged that each one was actually the individual of God’s creating, made in God’s spiritual likeness. As such, we all had the ability to express qualities of God – divine Mind, Truth, and Love – in our dealings. For instance, this would include a spirit of cooperativeness, honesty, and caring; intelligence; and a capacity and desire to resolve this issue in an ethical and wise manner. In other words, with a loving accountability.
Praying with these ideas changed my attitude completely. And I saw these qualities expressed in practice soon afterward. The situation was resolved amicably. The defective product was replaced at no expense to me.
In looking back on this experience, it occurs to me that an excellent benchmark in accountability was set long ago, by an individual named Solomon. According to the Bible, he was king, the top man in charge of his country’s welfare. He was mindful that the obligations associated with his high office directly impacted citizens to whom he was accountable. This moral responsibility was so great that he felt like a little child – inexperienced, unqualified, unsure about his ability to make sound decisions and deliver good results.
As a consequence, Solomon realized that he needed special help. One night, the Bible says, God asked Solomon what He might give him. Solomon’s response was to ask God not for wealth or more power, but for wisdom and an “understanding heart,” to enable him to execute honest and right judgment for all (see I Kings 3:5-15).
This extraordinarily unselfish request points to a humble desire to be of service to others – to help, not injure, and to rely on God, good, to guide him. This desire served Solomon well. His wisdom and good judgment went down in history. People today still refer to needing or wanting “the wisdom of Solomon.”
God is still present to help us all be “Solomons,” as we seek the spiritual-mindedness we need to do well whatever it is ours to do, rather than prioritizing wealth, prestige, or personal gain. This takes humility, which is like an open hand outstretched to receive what’s good. Conversely, egotism – lack of consideration for others, greed, pride – is like a closed fist. By its very nature, humility – a willingness to see ourselves and others as God does, and to follow the leading of God, good – opens us up to divine intuitions that impel unselfish choices and wise actions that benefit everyone involved.
Indeed, we all have the God-given potential to exercise good judgment and follow through on responsibilities with wisdom, humility, and accountability.