Accepting personal responsibility

Choices and the consequences for those choices – good or bad – leap to our minds from media accounts, and the experience of friends and family. If we make a right choice and obey God’s Word, we are likely to enjoy the outcome. If we continue to make poor choices, then we will not find ourselves very happy. It is a pretty simple formula, but many never get it in their entire lifetime. They keep on making poor choices and keep on paying the consequences.

One definition of insanity that has long made the rounds is “continuing to do the same thing in the same way and expecting a different outcome.” Some Christians act “insane” at times or at least portray an indifference and poor attitude toward the things of God.

Many of us make the choices that “feel good” at the moment or bring us popularity in our peer groups, or make some quick money, but paying the consequences is an entirely different matter, and often we blame God for our pain and our circumstances. We need to grow up (as Christians and as human beings) and understand this principle.

An example we’ve been hearing a lot about on our Houston news is the account of Jessica Tata, a Nigerian immigrant who came to America, opened a daycare, and decided to leave seven small children sleeping with a pot of oil on the stove while she went to shop at Target. When she returned, the Houston Fire Department was on the scene and her home, which housed the daycare, and everything in the house were engulfed in flames. Four precious children died in that fire and four families were immediately hurt to the core, not even counting the grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, neighbors and friends whose hearts are breaking. What should be her consequences? She was 22 years old, supposedly trained in daycare and making a good living when you hear how much the state was paying her, and yet she did not exercise the care that should be afforded a young child.

Instead of stepping up to the plate and admitting a terrible, life-altering mistake, Tata, by all accounts from law officials and the news media, has chosen to flee the country. She is said to have flown back to Nigeria and is in hiding while U.S. Marshals lead the manhunt for this woman. In all likelihood, her young life will be spent running, and these families will never be the same.

“Responsibility” is one of those words we have probably heard so many times from authority figures that we’ve developed a bit of an allergy to it. Still, it is one of the most important words and philosophies we will ever learn in life. Without it as a foundation, nothing else will really work properly.

Here is what we should learn and learn well. There is always a price to pay. Not assuming responsibility for our choices may be less demanding, less painful, and mean less time spent in the unknown. It’s often more comfortable. We can just “take it easy” and blame any problems in our lives on someone else. But there is always a price to pay. When we don’t take responsibility for our lives, we give away our personal power.

When taking responsibility for our actions is difficult to accept, we experience several different things. One of those primary feelings is that of insecurity. Many loud blowhards are really very insecure. They cannot or will not accept responsibility for their choices and actions, so they bellow. Insecurities trigger doubt about our abilities, which then works to undermine our self-confidence and our self-worth. In this state of mind and with this thinking, we have a very high need to be right at all times to compensate for what we feel is lacking in our lives. We defend our every action, right or wrong. It compounds the already existing problem of being unable to accept personal responsibility and it reinforces this behavior even more.

Once you condone this habit of not accepting responsibility, our character slowly becomes transformed. We may not even realize it is happening, but it is, and others can see it. We may tend to become irresponsible, a quitter, reliant too much on others, disturbed, unhappy, hopeless, angry, irrational and openly defiant. These qualities are not success enhancers, and they can eat away at our ability to truly serve Christ and to achieve our best.

Let’s examine our lives today. Can we accept personal responsibility for our actions?