Responsibility

The lady interviewing for a job makes us chuckle. “Are you a responsible person?” “Oh, yes! I am very responsible. At my last job they said I was responsible for almost everything: a messy office, gossiping, missing items, a hot temper and a lot more.” Oh boy! At least she admitted it.

Taking responsibility sounds good and everybody knows it’s the right thing to do; doing it is akin to chasing a shadow. Some wise-crack said that prisons are full of the most innocent people in the world. Even the ones who admit that they did it almost always say it really wasn’t their fault. Somebody tempted them, framed them or started it. It’s really not my fault. We have no fault insurance. On FM 1960, a major Houston highway, I saw a billboard. It said, “It’s not your fault but it is your problem.”

Our nation is in a financial crisis; head over heels in debt and spending like there are forests of money trees everywhere. Who is to blame? Nobody! It’s Reaganomics. Blame Bush. The Tea Party put us here. And John Q. Citizen who just filed for bankruptcy has the audacity to throw the first stone! Upside down in a car note, borrowing on one credit card to pay on another and still eating out, but it’s not my fault. I’m not responsible for where I am.

Sigmund Freud must be proud. If you are on drugs, your marriage is in shambles or you can’t hold a job, you must have had a lousy childhood. Somebody sexually molested you 30 years ago and he is responsible for all of the problems you have today. Blame, blame, blame! Your parents! Your mate! The boss! The government! God! Even preachers do it. The deacons! Troublemakers in the church! Bad location! The times in which we live!

Why does it never occur to people that the problem might be me? Any moron knows somebody is at fault. Why imagine that the fault is always elsewhere?

After the affair with Bath-sheba David’s house began to fall. God’s man confronted him with his sin. As famous and powerful as David was, he was big enough to admit, “I have sinned.” I’m responsible! I can’t blame my mom for spanking me when I was a kid, the pressure I’ve been under as a head of state or Beth-sheba for seducing me. It’s my fault. Pure and simple! I’m to blame.

Irresponsibility is a downhill trip. Things get worse instead of better. Consequences multiply. Apart from diagnosis improvement rarely comes. Bad habits and practices grow stronger. Relationships continue to degenerate. Financial consequences get worse. Bitterness deepens. Churches continue the trip to the graveyard. Health problems don’t go away; they worsen. We pay doctors big money to pinpoint our problems yet we deny any responsibility for the woes that are upon us. Strange indeed!

The story of the man sitting on a long, sharp tack is strikingly true to life. A Freudian counselor passed by and said, “Too bad man. Somebody did you bad. You have every right to be mad. You ought to sue.” A positive thinker came by and said, “It’s not as bad as you think. If you will think positive and quit dwelling on the pain you’re in, you will feel better.” Finally a Christian with a little common sense walked up. “Man, you are sitting on a tack. Get up and you will feel better.”

Yes! Face the truth. It’s amazingly liberating. Irresponsibility is a prison. It locks you in, but when you stand up and take responsibility for your own decisions and actions, you can start getting better. Responsibility takes away blame and such spiritual cancers as resentment, bitterness, revenge and hatred. You can get forgiveness, change your ways and crawl out of your pit. But, irresponsibility will keep you where you are and dump you into a deeper pit, possibly a premature grave. It will take you down in shame, disgrace and with a shaking fist in the face of God!

Responsibility is medicine for life. Honesty with self is a great victory, particularly when it is consistent. Try it. Get out of the window and into the mirror. It’s a painful move but the dividends are extremely high.