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I want to close out this series on authentic responsibilities by giving you a list of all fourteen authentic responsibilities. Reading them all together in a list challenges me: I have the list printed out and posted on my wall as a reminder of my responsibilities to myself and others. I’m still working on all of these, especially clear communication and letting others know my thoughts and feelings. But the most important part is that I know what I should be doing and that I am working to improve them each and every day. Don’t let this list overwhelm you! Instead, my prayer is that you have been challenged to become more authentically responsible in your own life. Open the gift of one authentic responsibility and experience the difference–there’s no time like the present! (See what I did there? HAHA!)
I alone am responsible for judging (evaluating, assessing) me – my motives (intent, needs, feelings, spirituality, abilities, intelligence, priorities, values) and to determine any adjectives that describe me. Therefore, I may refuse any judgment of me.
I am not obligated to answer to a human being for why I do what I do (to justify my behaviors). That type of self-disclosure is a gift.
I have the responsibility to choose whether I offer help for other people’s problems. I make my own commitments; no one can obligate me to that which I’m not committed.
I am responsible for taking care of me and appropriately assisting those I’m committed to. I will sometimes change my mind. My new choice does not have to be justified and does not indicate that I have chosen irresponsibly.
As a human being, I will make mistakes. I am responsible to make appropriate restitution which may include expressions of regret or sorrow, but not guilt.
As a human being, I will sometimes not know the answer to a question. I am responsible to say “I don’t know,” continue respecting myself, and not accept any disrespect for “not knowing.”
As a human being, I will sometimes act in a way that has unforeseen negative consequences for another. I am responsible for my own contributing to those consequences without requiring myself to have had prior knowledge I didn’t have.
As a human being, I will make some decisions that others may describe as illogical. I am responsible to make decisions according to all my senses, including my sense of logic.
When I do not understand any type of communication, I am responsible to ask for clarification without apology.
I am responsible for deciding if and what I want to improve about me and responsible to refuse any disrespect for me about not caring to improve in a particular way.
Authentic Responsibility #3: I have the responsibility to choose whether I offer help for other people’s problems. I make my own commitments; no one can obligate me to that which I’m not committed.
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Some time ago, I found myself entangled in a situation between two of my friends, John and Julie. John was showing some erratic and crazy behavior towards Julie, which frightened Julie. A close friend of John’s confided the situation to me, and somehow, the pushy prophet girl ended up in the middle. Because I knew John’s parents, I contacted them for my close friend and met with them about the situation. I also talked to Julie about what was going on. I mediated an e-mail chain between parents and Julie. And then, after a misunderstanding, I received a nasty voicemail from John’s mother. While listening to the voicemail, I realized something: I somehow had gotten myself involved in a situation, and I no longer wanted to be involved in it. And while I was concerned for the parties involved, I called my close friend and told him I was done: I stepped back and removed myself from the situation completely. I never should have been involved in the first place.
Authentic responsibility #3 gives you the responsibility of choosing where to offer your help and place your commitments–no one else can make these decisions for you. Here are three things to remember when choosing your obligations:
Have clear boundaries. In my situation with John and Julie, I did not express clear boundaries from the beginning. My involvement should have ended with giving my close friend the contact information for John’s parents and praying for the situation. Instead, I took on more roles that eventually got muddled and angered everyone, including me. Clear boundaries would have prevented this. You may not know where the situation is heading, but you can prepare yourself for where you will go from the outset (Galatians 6:5).
Stand by your commitments. This is a simple mandate from the Bible in James 5:12, which says, “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” In my situation, I did not do this. I said I would help but then backed out when I realized I really did not want to be involved. Jesus told a parable of a son who said he would show up to work in his father’s vineyard but then didn’t, and another son who said he wouldn’t show up to work, but then did. If you must choose, be the son who says he isn’t going to help, but then does—this was the son who pleased his Father (Matthew 21:28-31).
Let go of the guilt. You can’t help or save everyone—and you aren’t called to. That is Jesus’ job. Pray about where God is asking you to spend your time. While the Bible mandates that we help others and show others compassion, we are also to be good stewards of our time. You must release any feelings of guilt you have on your own or that others may attempt to press on you. Remember, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1)—it is okay to say no!
Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Authentic responsibilities help us take care of ourselves and our interests so that we can better take care of others. It is your responsibility to decide where your obligations lie.
How do you decide where you will commit yourself and your time? Share in the comments!