By: Christine M. Hoffpauir (Cubed Living Summer Intern, 2018)
It is a term with which we are all familiar.
As a child, my parents taught me to be responsible for my own actions. While still in high school I worked retail for three years. Though I had a very good job with good pay and decent hours, I would find any excuse that I could to avoid showing up for work.
“My boss never has anything for me to do…”
“I wasn’t supposed to work this day of the week anyways…”
“Marcy called in sick…?!”
Now, considering I was not an adult, my excuses didn’t really “fly” with my parents. So, I typically ended up going to work anyway and did so with a bad attitude. It wasn’t until later (later meaning my early twenties 😉, I’m only 21 now!) that I realized my total lack of responsibility.
Responsibility is not blame.
I blamed my boss, the secretary that created the schedule, and my coworkers. I used them as excuses for why I did not want to go to work, or why I couldn’t do my job correctly, or why something hadn’t gone the way I wanted it to. Clearly, I complained a lot.
We tend to place blame on anything and anyone we can. We place blame on everything except for ourselves.
To be a good leader, worker, or friend, we need to understand that there are a lot of things in our lives that we cannot control (the schedule for the week, someone else calling in, etc.). But, what we do control, every day, is our own choices and reactions.
Responsibility is not blame. It is living intentionally.
One of the first things we learn to do when becoming a Christian is to openly admit to God that we are sinners.“Coming clean” about the things we have done wrong means we are taking responsibility for our past actions. It is us saying to God, “I know I am responsible for my past.”
After we become Christians, we need to learn to follow Christ, so we can make sure we are walking in the direction Christ wants us to walk. The only way that Christ can lead us is if we understand the things we are responsible for. Our own choices.
The choices that I made, even in response to other people’s decisions; about work, relationships, money, time; they are my responsibility. No one forced me to react a certain way or make a certain decision. I made those choices on my own. They are 100% mine. And those choices led me down the path to the place that I am right now.
Sometimes the place we are in is not a good place. We look at where we are and think, “this is not where I want to be” or “this is not what I want to be doing”. Sometimes we realize, “this is not what The Lord intended for me.”
We must understand that until our choices align with God’s plan for each of our lives, we will never be in the place He intends for us to be. A better place.
Responsibility is not blame. It is living intentionally; and it is also hope.
There is hope for us to make better choices. If we can understand that the choices we make are what puts us into bad positions, then we can understand that better choices will put us in better places.
The best place for one to be, with family, career, or personal relationship with Christ; is the place you allow Him to lead you, by letting Him direct your thoughts, actions, and choices. This should give you HOPE for your future.
“I am responsible for my future.”
You may be asking, Christine, “How can I apply this to my everyday life?” or “How will this make me a better leader?”
I’ll tell you.
4 Steps to becoming a better leader, or even just a better follower:
- Take responsibility for your past actions.
If someone wronged you, forgive them. If you wronged someone, ask for forgiveness. You cannot change the past, so let go of grudges and regrets. Use your past as a learning opportunity. If you do not let go of the past, you will never see all the good things God is doing now.
In Isaiah 43:18-19, God says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”
- Take responsibility for your present actions.
Reflect upon your choices as you make them. Personal and business, public and private. If you make a mistake at work, admit what you did wrong to the people above, equal, and below you. Anyone that it has affected. Do not blame others for choices you have made. This is the only way to build/repair trust. Then, use those mistakes to improve yourself and your work. It will eventually contribute to helping those around you to improve themselves as well!
Proverbs 19:20-21 tells us to, “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”
- Take responsibility for your future actions.
There are situations in your future that you may not ever anticipate having to deal with.
James 4:13-17 warns us when it says, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’.”
Ask yourself in advance if this is a Christ-lead or self-lead decision. The only way to make sure that you are walking in the direction The Lord wants you to walk is to pray, study His word for similar situations and insights, and surround yourself with people to hold you accountable for your actions. Pray that Christ will lead you in all of those circumstances.
Some things you may want to pray for:
- a future spouse
- your future children
- a future trial,
- patience, (or any fruits of the spirit really!)
- job opportunities, etc.
For example: In my current stage of life I pray constantly over my career. I pray that The Lord will guide my fiancé and I as we come nearer to graduation, that He will present us with opportunities, and lead us to where He wants us to live and work.
Don’t limit your future to your current situation. Be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the teachings of God’s Word in everything you do!
- Encourage others to take responsibility for their actions.
Galatians 6:1-2 encourages us that, “If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Lead by example. If you want those around you to admit they made a mistake, admit your mistakes. Only point out other people’s mistakes in loving and positive ways, and only when necessary. Don’t tell them all the ways they have gone wrong. Show them the things they’ve done wrong and teach them how to do it correctly in the future. Only give advice if the advice given is going to help to make them a better person and do so only if you believe they desire in their hearts to be better.
Take responsibility for your own actions by diligent prayer and study to seek guidance in achieving greater things! One of my favorite promises from the Bible is this:
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11
I truly believe that if you commit to owning your responsibility, you will be far more successful in all of your endeavors. You will find yourself in a better place. And if you allow Christ to lead you, you will find a peace in knowing you are following Christ’s will for your life.
Past, present, and future.
Let God be in control of your life.
Even when you make mistakes, He will teach you through it. Let Him guide your choices and decisions and He will lead you into responsibility.
Your Sister In Christ,