It takes courage to take responsibility for your actions. It sometimes feels easier to let others be responsible for your choices and actions, but it never aligns with reality. In truth, you are responsible for the choices you make and the sooner you acknowledge that the better your life will be.
This blog post is part 16 of the series Eight Steps to Experiencing His Victory
A Professional Blamer
I was a professional blamer. It was so natural, so convenient that it was my go-to way of dealing with anything in my life that I didn’t want to be responsible for. I was a master of blame. It was their fault, not mine.
One of the most tragic of all my blame shifting took place when I was four or five years old. I was in the house with my little brother David and I came up with the idea to to play with matches.
I took the matchbook and started taking the matches out one at a time and with my thumb run the match over the striking surface and flicking them into the air. We were having fun running through the house and flicking matches until one match fell on the legs of my pajamas.
My pajamas started on fire and I freaked out. I ran throughout the house screaming until, I think it was my mom, threw me on the floor and put the fire out with a rug.
I was rushed to the hospital with a burn so severe it required a large skin graft from my other leg. I still bear the scar on the upper half of my right thigh fifty-five years later.
Now comes the really tragic part. I told my mom and dad that my brother David did it. My dad thought David did and blamed him. I didn’t tell my mom and dad the truth until I after I accepted the Lord, by that time my brother had been killed in a car accident.
It’s Much Easier to Blame
It’s so much easier to blame someone else for the things we do. That way we do not have to take responsibility for the things we have done. My mom and dad believed a lie I made up to save myself from getting in trouble.
There are a lot of reasons we blame others for what we did or the way we are. Here are a few, maybe you can come up with more: (If so, leave a comment below)
- Insecurity - we feel so insecure about ourselves that we try to get people’s eyes on someone else.
- Need for perfection - we are performance driven and cannot be less than perfect or we will be flawed.
- Fear of failure - we don’t want to fail or be seen by others as a failure.
- Fear of criticism - We definitely don’t want anyone criticizing what we do.
- Fear of rejection - We don't want people to look at what we have done and reject us.
- Fear of being considered inadequate - We don’t want people to look at us and shake their head in disgust.
But blaming is such an easy one. Here are some classics
When in Actuality
The teacher gave me a bad grade. I don't know why He doesn’t like me.
We didn’t study and turned in a horrible paper.
A cop pulled me over and gave me a ticket. He must have had a quota to fill.
We were driving eight miles over the speed limit.
My boss is a jerk and fired me for no reason at all.
We were late three times in the past week and were caught talking on our cell phone four times when we were supposed to be working.
I’m such a fearful person What else would you expect with a mom who’s afraid of her own shadow.
We are choosing to be shaped by our past and blaming mom for our fear.
I think you get the idea. Blame can become such a natural part of thinking that we don’t even realize that we are doing it. It comes second nature. Everyone and everything is against me and is causing me to be the way I am.
Why Take Responsibility?
God Has Created You With the Ability to Make Choices
You are not helpless. You are not choiceless. You have the ability to choose. You can make a choice.
One of the things that I’m grateful to God for is His willingness to allow me to make a choice. I know that there are some who teach that we are predestined to do what God has predetermined. It’s called predestination.
Yet the Bible clearly shows that we have a choice to make when it comes to obeying Him and His word. He gives us commands and we can either choose to follow them or disobey them. Without a choice, we cannot be held accountable. We are only doing what we were created to do.
One of my favorite passages on the subject of choice comes from the book of Deuteronomy, where Moses is going over the law of God and all of His commands for the people of Israel as they prepare to enter into the Promised Land.
In Deuteronomy 27:1, “Moses and the elders of Israel charged the people, saying, ‘Keep all the commandments which I am commanding you today.’” He is talking to each person present and ordering them to obey God’s word.
Then Moses speaks about the blessing that will come with obedience and the curse that comes with disobedience (see chapters 27-30). Then he says:
“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. 17 But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20)
Moses is clearly giving the Israelites a choice. They can choose between life and death, the blessing and the curse, and obedience or disobedience. The point is that they have heard the commands of God, now they must choose which way they will go.
God has given you the ability to choose. Have you made a choice to trust in Christ for salvation? If you would like to learn more about it read the post Come to God or Are You Trying to Get Yourself to Heaven? What choice did you make?
It’s the First Step to Change
I am going to say this as plainly as possible, so it cannot be misunderstood. You are responsible for your own choices. No one else can make them for you unless you decide to let them.
Many times we feel like we have no choice in a decision. For example server in a restaurant might say, I had to give the assistant manager half of my tips or I would lose my job. Giving up his or her tips was not the only option available.
So what could somebody do in this situation? They could:
- Go tell the boss that the assistant manager is trying to force them into giving up half of their tips.
- Flat out refuse to give him the tips
- Get another job.
There is generally more than one choice you can make. There are consequences for each choice you make or do not make (remember not making a choice is a choice). With the above example let’s look at the possible consequences:
- You tell the boss and he gets fired.
- You refuse to give into his intimidation and he leaves you alone.
- You refuse to give into his intimidation and you get fired.
- You quit and find a better job.
Taking responsibility for your own choices is the first step in change. Without this decision, you are always a victim depending on the choices of others.
It’s the Only Way to Maturity
Part of the maturing process is taking responsibility for oneself. When we are children it is absolutely necessary that we depend on others for guidance and protection. Yet every wise parent knows that as a child grows they should be given more and more responsibility with their age.
The ultimate goal of any parent should be a fully interdependent person who is able to make wise choices in the situations of life. I use the term interdependent because God has made us to participate in the lives of others. Yet within this interdependence, you are still free to make choices.
An important part of growing in maturity is setting appropriate boundaries. We recognize that people will try and get us to do things we don’t want to do. If they are against our conscience or something that is not the other person’s right to demand, we can say no.
It’s also important to realize that we can make a willful choice to make a compromise with another person, even if it is not what we really want to do. A compromise is not a forced decision. It is a determined choice to reach a greater good.
You Are the Only One You Can Control
When it comes down to it you are the only one you can control. Sometimes we think we can control others, but we can’t Think about the crying baby, the tantrums of a two-year-old, the rebellion of a teenager, or the additions of a spouse.
You can do everything you want, but you cannot control them. You can discipline and raise them in the proper way or give guidance and support, but ultimate the other person has a choice to make. You may force someone to do something but that does not mean you have changed their heart. When you aren't looking, they will do what they want to do.
So the ball is in you court. Is there some situation in your life that you are blaming on someone else? Maybe it’s time to take inventory and see what choices you actually have. Let’s look at a few ways you can take responsibility for your own life.
How to Take Responsibility
In order to take responsibility for yourself, you must stop doing a couple of things and start doing a couple more.
Stop Blaming Others for the Choices You Make
“When you blame others you give up your power to change.” Author Unknown
Start listening to the words that come out of your mouth and the ones that roll around in your head. Are they words of blame? Do you find yourself thinking that if it weren’t for this person or this event I wouldn’t be the way I am or doing what I am doing?
If so, then it’s time to take responsibility and refuse to blame the person or situation any more. Yes, something happened that was not good, but you decided to react the way you reacted. It is now time to make decisions that will change your life for the better.
For every person or situation, you blame for your condition begin to think about the choices that you can make in and for yourself. Don’t forget to add the truth of God’s word into the situation. His ways always lead to life as He intends it to be.
Stop Making Excuses
This point is best illustrated by a story about one of my friends. He was complaining to me about his job. He used to have a job he loved but had to take another job and he hated it.
He was working in a big company that had many opportunities for him to move out of his hated job into another one that he might like better. So I asked him what jobs he might like. He instantly came up with a small list of jobs that would be great.
I said, why don’t you apply for those jobs. He instantly started telling me why they would not hire him. They all had to do with how he was fearful that he could not do the job or that they would not want him.
None of his arguments were legitimate in my eyes. He could easily do what was required in the jobs. It wasn’t a case that he needed a certain degree or certain certificates to do the job. He felt inadequate.
In the end, he refused to even put an application in and stayed in a job he hated and felt was a dead end. He made excuse after excuse When he could have possibly gotten a job he would have loved. Maybe he wouldn’t get that particular job, but he certainly couldn't get it without an application and interview.
Are you making excuses as to why you can’t change? Do you have more reasons why things must remain the same than reasons why things could be different? If you are, then determine to grab every excuse by the throat and cast them out of your life.
Start Accepting That You Have a Choice
This quote by Theodore Roosevelt is funny, sad, and tragic at the same time. He said,
“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit down for a month.”
Many times you are your own worst enemy. you have learned over time to blame others for the way you are, but you can stop that cycle right now by carefully considering your options. You can acknowledge that you do have choices and sit down to find out what options you do have. There are more than you think.
Realize that you do not have to remain in the same place that you are. You have a choice.
Determine to Make the Right Choice
A problem with realizing that you have a choice is that not all choices are good. Some choices will bring more harm than good. Other choices may be difficult and lead to hard times but in the end be the right choice.
Over the years I have seen the tragic choices that people have made and the right choices that changed their life for the better.
I have a friend that one day announced that He was gay and left his wife and family to live a homosexual lifestyle. When he was confronted about his choice he arrogantly said, “I am doing God’s will.” Bad choice.
I have another friend that started having an affair with another man and divorced her husband because “God wanted her to be happy.” Tragic.
I know another person who was physically abused for over twenty years who finally called the police on her husband. They took him away in a police car and put him in jail. He never hit her again. Hard, but good choice.
Yes, you have choices to make. I pray the Lord will help you to make the right choices that agree with His word. You have more choices than you know.
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