What Is Responsibility?
Am I a responsible person? Does it mean I wear many hats, carry multiple loads, manage multiple projects? It could. Or simply, it means that I will do what I am supposed to do. I cannot simply look at my task list and say that this means I have many responsibilities – especially if those tasks never get done.
Being responsible often means doing something even when you do not feel like it, or pushing hard to meet some deadline when there are too many distractions, or even just learning to say “no” when you know your plate is full.
Responsibility, then, means I need to be accountable – but to whom?
When it comes to ______________ Then I am accountable to ________________.
- Relationships – Myself, wife, kids, God…
- Friendship – Myself, friends, God
- Financial Accountability – Myself, wife, kids, church, account holders, God
- Ministerial Ethics – Myself, fellow ministers, God
- Time Management – Myself, God
Whoa! I see a lot of “God” in this list! Of course, Jesus says to seek him first (Matthew 6:33) and everything else gets added. But where does God fall within this list? Is he first? Or have I put everyone else ahead of him. Part of this modern age always seeks to put “self” first – let’s take care of “me” before anyone else!
My world often makes “me” my worst critic, and I am often harder on myself than anyone else would be. So, somewhere between myself and God are the parameters of my accountability.
So, I take that load off of me and put God first… If I can be accountable to him for his standards then my world will be so much better!
Consider the Psalmist. His book begins with these 6 verses:
Psa 1:1-6 KJV Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. (2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (3) And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (4) The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. (5) Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. (6) For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
This should give me my focus, and it is a Godly focus – Keep my walk, stay out of the influence of sinners, refuse to sit in scorning and judgement, and delight in His Law, Wherever I find myself I should realize I am also a witness to others, What I find myself involved in needs to be something that can prosper… In a Godly way.
Why? God knows my way! He knows my frame! (Psalms 103:14) He knows my faults, failures and the true intentions of my heart. At another time David wrote: Psalms 37:23-24 KJV The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. (24) Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
This is why I put God first! He knows me so well…
I might not be successful in all that I have set before me to do, but in my failure He is there to hold me up.
I just had a thought. A memory, actually. It was about a friend in grade school. His dad was an astronaut. He came to school with a pocket protector, and the thing loaded with all kinds of writing instruments. Most of us thought of him as a very talented person – because he had all kinds of pens. We were jealous!
Of course, a pocket protector is responsibility, right? It protects the pocket from all of those potential leaking instruments! AND, it keeps all of the writing instruments contained in one place.
Just having a lot of tasks on my plate does not make me a responsible person. It’s what I do with those tasks. It’s what I do with those pens! In fact, the concept of taking what I’ve been given to do and accomplishing those tasks successfully is exactly what Jesus was teaching about in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25). To the one who acted wisely with 5 talents and 2 talents, their reward was more responsibility – talents doubled, and rewards given. To the one who acted foolishly with the single talent, his talent was stripped away and given to the one who doubled 5 into 10, and he was cast out of the kingdom.
So, what’s the bottom line? I need to change my priorities from being accountable to myself first, to being accountable to God…