Here is an excerpt from the article, "The Three Rs of Accountability", at Luke 17:3 Ministries.

Many offenders are fond of saying, “But I didn’t mean it that way” or “I never meant for that to happen” . BUT INTENT IS NOT THE ISSUE. RESULTS ARE...

...Everybody makes mistakes. Where most of us begin to lose our patience is with those who never LEARN from their “mistakes”- this tells us that these are not really “mistakes” at all, but rather ongoing patterns of behavior. If something is truly accidental or inadvertent, an accountable adult has no problem sincerely apologizing, doing whatever he can to fix the situation, and moving on. Mature adults do not have a problem apologizing for errors in judgment, or innocent mistakes that caused harm to others. There is no guilt or shame attached to a truly unintentional offense.

Those who feel guilty and ashamed avoid taking responsibility. One who did wrong deliberately, selfishly, or with malicious intent will be ashamed when she is caught or confronted, so she will not admit what she did. She will try to hide it, make excuses, or in some way weasel out of being accountable for her own behavior. She will be angry and flustered at being caught when she thought she was getting away with it. She will not admit she was wrong, she will not sincerely apologize, and she will not try to rectify the damage she did.

The reason guilt or shame is felt is that, despite what the offender might say, her words or actions WERE INTENTIONAL, or at the very least, SELFISH. One way or the other, she knew what she was doing and the effects it might have, but she decided to do it anyway, and hope for the best. Otherwise she would have nothing to feel guilty about and no problem acting in a responsible manner and making amends. Her ego would not be at stake, and she would not react with the shame of someone who was “caught” doing wrong. One who feels guilty or ashamed will lie, deny, cover-up, blame others- anything but admit that she was wrong and take responsibility for her own words or actions.

Someone who is not ashamed of herself has no reason to deny or lie about what she did. She will acknowledge her actions, apologize for the pain she caused EVEN THOUGH SHE DIDN’T MEAN TO, admit she was wrong, used poor judgment, or made a mistake, do everything she can to make restitution, and NOT REPEAT the same offense in the future. She may feel embarrassed about her actions, but she will not feel the shame that leads to covering them up. And she understands that failure to take responsibility would be an even greater reason to be embarrassed.

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I know I'm sick to death of hearing about the pure intentions of the perps in my life. How about you? How do people who never have an bad intention so often end up abusing you in some way? Anyone who chooses to plead to their good intentions rather than immediately making things right is guilty as hell. They are lying about their malicious intent by pretending its opposite.

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