If It's Yours - Own It, If It's Not - Let It Go
In this day and age responsibility seems to be an evasive idea or something our society teaches as an ideal that can be justified away, shrugged off onto someone else, or simply walked away from. I see responsibility as a close cousin to integrity.
James 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin
Recently, I was talking with one of my sons about a challenging leadership issue he is faced with. The issue deals with a subordinate who is many years his senior but is not carrying his work load and is dragging down the moral of his entire squadron. I listened to a young man describe the internal strife he was dealing with having to face the responsibility of disciplining a man late in his career while he was fairly new in his own. About the same time I got a phone call from one of my daughters who was struggling with an overbearing and difficult client who she just completed the exact service the client requested only to be followed by the client changing her mind and expecting my daughter to acquiesce and redo hours of work at her own expense. As I listened to both of them I felt their struggles of wanting to do the responsible thing knowing that in both circumstances the issues would probably only be resolved through demanding confrontations, the risk of being demeaned and personal cost.
In recent years our society has slid down the slippery slope where your word carries no weight, your commitment to do what you are suppose to do has become meaningless, or you have the ability to demand what you want, when you want it without consideration of the impact to anyone but yourself. You become blind to the impact of those around you. Callousness insulates your heart from feeling anything except satisfaction once you get what you want.........but does it really? The following verse summarizes the outcome of this type of thinking regarding selfishness and greed:
2 Timothy 3:2-4 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
With the above verse in mind the challenge then becomes how do you face the reality of a demanding world that wants to shrug off personal responsibility. Is it up to us to hold people accountable while we are held to a higher standard as believers? The simple answer is yes. To achieve this successfully you need to have your feet planted firmly on the Lord, you must be willing to face an enemy of opposition knowing in your heart you are acting responsibly and don't respond out of anger or personal revenge.
For both circumstances that my son and daughter were facing my first question to each of them was "did you do anything wrong that contributed to the situation?" For both the answer was "no." Here is where human nature often kicks in and we look for the path of POTENTIAL least resistance. Too often the outcome is that we take on the burdens of other's lack of responsibility because we don't want to offend someone else or we would rather avoid the confrontation even if it comes at great personal cost to ourselves. When faced with these situations unfortunately the answer is never easy but if you are honest with yourself there is almost always a right and just solution.
If after a brief and honest personal assessment of the situation you conclude the answer is to hold the other party accountable, do so with humility and compassion in such a way you would like to be treated yourself. Never react out of anger, resentment or the ability to get even. Trust in the Lord to be your arbitrator on your behalf and know He can use all situations for good for those who follow Him. Understand you are not helping yourself or the other party by allowing them to live a dysfunctional life. It is not your burden to carry their load. Do your best and let God do the rest and then let it go.
1 Peter 5:1-4 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory
As followers of Christ the opposite is also true. If you find yourself in a situation where you have made mistakes, missteps or bad decisions own them and don't run from the responsibility. In one of my businesses we distribute products to the home building industry and there are almost an infinite number of options and opportunities for mistakes to happen on both sides of the equation. My instructions to my staff are always the same, if we made the mistake, own it, step up and accept responsibility and don't avoid the difficult communications with our customer. I have found that almost everyone understands that mistakes can and will happen. Mistakes are a part of the fallen world in which we live. The issue isn't how can we completely avoid making mistakes in life, the issue is how you resolve them when they occur. Man up and own it. Take responsibility for your part of the negative outcome. Does owning your mistakes make the cost you might incur go away? Probably not, but it is at this intersection where our frail humanity meets Christ allowing Him to flood the equation and He fills in the gap to overcome any obstacle you face.
Let me close with the following inspirational video I hope you will all find encouraging:
Keep swinging for the fences, they aren't as far away as they appear.