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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

25 Dec '13

The diminishing practice of taking responsibility for our actions, lives and situations

Posted by T.J. Addington in taking responsibility
We have an epidemic in our society of not taking responsibility for issues in our lives and leadership. From the highest office in government where no one seems to be responsible for major failures, to Christian leaders who blame others for their failures or refuse to make them right to everyday situations in our lives where we find it easy to blame, ignore or spin so that we don't  have to take personal responsibility.  At its base the problem is dishonesty, our own sinfulness, pride and a failure to face what we need to face and make it right or take personal action.

Ironically, not only is taking responsibility for our actions the right thing to do but it actually builds confidence and trust in others because they see that we are committed to doing the right thing. Even when we may have created a mess!

What does taking responsibility entail? It starts with admitting to ourselves the truth about our actions when we have failed in some way - whether large or small. That self honesty should lead to honesty with those we have affected. It means we need to be willing to say such things as "I was wrong and I need your forgiveness," "I really screwed this up and want to make it right," or similar words. Until we are willing to truthfully admit out loud to those we have hurt or impacted we have not take responsibility. It should be done if possible in person and with total truth, not blaming others or circumstances.

That admission must lead to the steps necessary to make things right in whatever way we can. This is a humbling process and requires the humility of admission, asking forgiveness where necessary and being willing to submit to others when necessary.

While I am distressed by the lack of transparency and truthfulness in government I am even more distressed by Christian leaders who do not take responsibility for their actions, admit their culpability and make things right. The pastor friend who had a long term affair injuring the reputation of Jesus and hurting people and who has not cooperated with the basic requests of the churche involved but has moved on leaving the wreckage to others to deal with. Another leader who left financial wreckage in his wake and simply moved on to the next ministry and the next deal. Leaders who spiritualize the poor decisions they make as if God is somehow responsible for the outcome.

A life of responsibility starts with the small things. No one compromises on large issues without first compromising on small issues. It is the small compromises which lead to the large compromises. It is also the taking responsibility in the small things that gives one the ability to do it in large things. Both taking responsibility and not taking responsibility are habits of our lives. The first leads to a life of integrity while the second to a life of compromise. We have everything to gain by taking appropriate responsibility and everything to lose by not doing so.