Last time we started looking at the idea of responsibility. We looked at the idea of individual responsibility and how we need to start seeing that it is individuals who are responsible and not the ever convenient “they”.
Today I want to take a look at why taking individual responsibly is healthy and not only that it is the only way to become a leader.
First of all, it’s important to hit again the fact that in the end, according to Christian theology we are individually responsible before God. Yes God will judge the nations but there will be people in each of those “nations” that get into the Kingdom and those that don’t. You aren’t going to stand before God and get away with “But. . . . ‘they’ did it”. Heck you won’t even be able to say, “I’m not responsible for that – you are”.
This is all over scripture. Look at the parable of the talents for example. Before the master leaves he gives one man ten talents, another 5 and another 1. Now were they responsible for how many talents they were given? No. The man who had 10 earned 10 more. The man who had 5 earned 5 more. The man who had one buried it and earned none. The master rewards the first two men. Does he reward the first more than the second? No He rewards them proportionally to their given responsibility. He admonishes the third man and takes away the one talent he did have. Each is responsible not for what he was given but for what he did with what he was given.
We could point to scripture after scripture lining up with this idea. We are responsible for our part. That’s individual responsibility.
It turns out that taking responsibility is a good thing. This is true theologically. It’s true philosophically. It’s true practically.
Here’s the truth, responsibility gives us purpose. Everyone is looking for purpose. Why am I here? What am I supposed to do? How can I make a difference and impact the world? The answer is taking responsibility.
Responsibility makes us act. It gives us accountability. When I see myself as responsible for something I make different decisions. When I see myself as responsible for my sin it leads to repentance. It also can help me avoid sin to begin with. In fact the more I’m responsible for, if I embrace that responsibility, the more I’m likely to do good and avoid bad. You know why? Because more is on the line.
I’ve seen this in my own life. There have been times where I have been tempted to sin in certain ways. But I knew as a man in ministry that I wasn’t just responsible for me. Because I took that seriously I knew that the sin wouldn’t just impact me (sin is always communal) but would impact all those in it with me. This helped me avoid sins that I never would have if it was just about me. I was responsible.
This is why by the way married men make more money than any other demographic. More than single men. More than divorced men. More than women. Married men who see themselves as responsible for providing for their family make more. They work harder. They bear the weight of that responsibility.
Responsibility is weight. But it’s a good weight. And we are all called to carry it. Jesus says pick up your cross. Pick up your responsibility.
This responsibility requires suffering. It requires giving up things. It requires making choices based not just on what feels good in the moment or brings us instant gratification. It requires us to deal with our own sin, wounds and hinderances. It stops us from blaming others and forces us to own our own life. While on the one hand it weighs us down, it at the same time in some way actually frees us. If gives us purpose and meaning.
Can we take too much responsibility? I reckon that can be a trap. Although I think as a culture right now that isn’t our primary problem. But mostly that happens when I take on someone else’s responsibility not my own.
We start with personal responsibility. I’m responsible for what I do. I’m responsible for my own sin. I’m responsible for what I do with what I’ve been given. Remember the parable of the talents. I’m not responsible for what the other guy does with his talents. I’m not judged based on the other guy. I don’t have to produce 10 talents with the 5, although that could happen. But I don’t get to bury it and then cry about it and blame the master for my plight.
As a leader, if I want to be a good one, I become responsible for more. I become responsible for those who are with me. One of the things I see with so many so called leaders is that they aren’t responsible. They want the followers but not the weight of being responsible for them. I’ll have more to say about that at a later time.
So what does taking responsibility look like? Especially as a believer? What am I responsible for? We’ll look at more of that soon.