Illustration of internal control from the Scriptures – one good example and one not so good
(cross-post from my other blog, Nonprofit Update)
Maintain dual control over the offering! You hear that unending refrain from us accountants.
Document those disbursements! Another routine comment you hear.
One story in scriptures has a good illustration of the first control along with missing the boat on the second idea. Jehoiada, the priest during the reign of King Joash, did a good job on the dual control over the offering and not so great on accountability for the disbursements.
King Joash rebuilt the temple during his reign. He and the priest Jehoiada agreed to use some of the offering to fund the restoration work. We read in 2 Kings 12:9-16:
Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in its lid. He placed it beside the altar, on the right side as one enters the temple of the LORD. The priests who guarded the entrance put into the chest all the money that was brought to the temple of the LORD. Whenever they saw that there was a large amount of money in the chest, the royal secretary and the high priest came, counted the money that had been brought into the temple of the LORD and put it into bags. When the amount had been determined, they gave the money to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. With it they paid those who worked on the temple of the LORD—the carpenters and builders, the masons and stonecutters. They purchased timber and dressed stone for the repair of the temple of the LORD, and met all the other expenses of restoring the temple. The money brought into the temple was not spent for making silver basins, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, trumpets or any other articles of gold or silver for the temple of the LORD; it was paid to the workmen, who used it to repair the temple. They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty. The money from the guilt offerings and sin offerings was not brought into the temple of the LORD; it belonged to the priests. (New International Version)
Things were done well on the dual control over offerings. Notice again the comment that says:
…the royal secretary and the high priest came, counted the money that had been brought into the temple of the LORD and put it into bags. When the amount had been determined, they gave the money to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple… (NIV)
Good job! Maintained dual control. Two parties determine the amount of the money that’s been counted.
And then we read:
They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty (NIV)
Oops! It is good to know the craftsman conducted themselves with complete honesty. It would have been better for them to account for the funds. That proves their accountability and eliminates the possibility of false accusation.
Oh well. Jehoiada was one for two.
Hat tip to Chris Gartman for pointing out this bible story at his firm’s blog Faith-Based Accounting . He has several posts on the story in 2 Kings and the parallel story in 2 Chronicles. You can find his superb discussions at the following links:
- There is Strength in Numbers
- Record Keeping is Important (And so is Reporting)
- Processes are Important
- One additional principle – Don’t push your luck!
- The Church’s Accountability Extends to the Government
I encourage you to read all his posts. It will be worth your time.