Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Taking responsibility...

Week 2:

I Samuel 15:13-15 13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”  14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”  15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”

Passing off blame has been an age old problem.  Biblically, Adam began this whole blaming thing by passing responsibility for eating the forbidden fruit to Eve (Genesis 3).  While reading again the story of Saul and God rejecting him as king, I noticed how Saul passed blame and responsibility to his men in verse 15.  Even though this is an age old problem, I get a sense that it seems to be more prevalent in our current society.

I watch and listen as educated adults give away their power through blame and the passing off of responsibility.  Furthermore, when faced with the question, “What can you take responsibility for in this situation?”...confusion and further blame ensues.  I also realize in these situations that I am not immune to this way of reacting.  I too, give away my power and become victim to passing off blame.

Here is what passing off responsibility does:

·         It puts the power into the teeth of the situation.  When I blame the circumstances, I am victim to my circumstances.  My circumstances now have control and I will rarely take control back.  I become powerless and get stuck.  In that process, others suffer due to my inaction and lack of power.  Saul gave up his power by blaming his men.
·         It damages my character and eventually my soul.  I can no longer be trusted.  I become unapproachable.  I begin to blame even more and isolate.  When I isolate, I am easily tempted by sin.  Sin causes shame, and I begin to live out of my shame.  Saul damaged his soul eventually leading to his being tormented by a demon.  His anger burned unhealthily toward David.
·         I become even more selfish.  When I feel a victim, I power up in the wrong places and in unhealthy ways.  All I can think of is me.  The “me” world becomes a lonely world.  Saul asked Samuel to still honor him in front of the people.  He gave up his power to a false sense of image.

Here is an example of what I observe regularly.  I deal with Secondary students daily.  When a student is sent to me for discipline reasons, I make efforts to separate the student from the choice.  Sometimes in those moments, the student does not see he/she made a choice and begins to pass blame…on other students, his/her situation in life, the teachers/coaches, school rules, me, etc.  This becomes a teachable moment for me and I make note of how our society is riddle with ducking responsibility and giving away our power.  In most cases the student begins to get the picture.  Sometimes, either by a deep seated pattern of behavior or a poor presentation on my part…or both, the student goes home and complains to his/her parents. 

In some cases, the parents visit me with a protective persona in place.  The emotion of the child has triggered an emotional response of the parents and they have come to “fix” the problem.  In most cases, once the parents have heard what I told the student from me, they get it.  Occasionally, there are those who pass the blame to me.  And we just cannot see eye to eye on this situation.  I get it.  I do the same thing many times myself.  As a parent, I fall into the trap of making sure my child lives in emotional perfection and happiness.  When I step away for a while, I realize that this is not helpful to my child.  I need to teach him/her to take responsibility for his her actions. 

This is a lengthy example I know, but an important one to note the heightened awareness of the state of our society.  So far, I presented the problem.  But what does taking responsibility do for you and me?

·         It gives me power over my life.  Sure, there are things I cannot control.  And I certainly cannot control people.  But I am responsible for my reaction.  I don’t deny or hide or stuff my reaction, but I do not let it control me either.  I own my reaction.  I voice the boundaries that have been crossed.  It allows me to have control.
·         It protects my character and soul.  When I own my mistakes and me emotion around those mistakes, I am more trustworthy and more “human” to those around me.  I am able to drop the mask and be me.  To live as a fake is exhausting to the soul.  To live as me, is refreshing to the soul.
·         I begin to love others and have compassion on them.  I am able to see into the hearts of those around me and recognize from where they are coming.  I can see the cause of their reactions and walk with them.

My challenge is twofold.  First, I need to continue to flex the muscle of taking responsibility.  That may mean some pain and humility as I admit my mistakes, selfish behavior and flaws.  But that pain is short-lived compared to the pain that is caused by unhealthy emotion because of a damaged conscience and soul.  Second, I challenge my readers to take back their power by taking responsibility for themselves, their lives and their actions.  If you are a parent, recognize where we as parents foster blaming in our children.  Take back the power that was given to us through the Spirit of God.


1.      What is your overall reaction to this piece?
2.      Where is your “sweet spot” for blame?
3.      What do you suppose has been a consequence for not taking responsibility in your life?
4.      Who else has paid this cost?
5.      Notice this week where you pass of blame or do not take responsibility.  Ask God to open your eyes to this and free you from this pattern.

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