What if the definition for a value-word like Responsibility was simple?
What if Responsibility generally meant “One with the ability to respond” or “the one with the ability to provide a reason for why a behavior was initiated”.
Too many times this word is used in conjunction with the assignment of fault. “Fault” is another good word to define – it is generally defined as a point of weakness – as in a geological fault where earthquakes can occur.
Unfortunately, because these terms have a relationship, they are used to mean the same thing, even though they are very different: as in “the person who is responsible is the person who is at fault.”
The biggest difference between responsibility and fault as defined above is a relationship of power. The person at fault is the one whose weakness results in undesired outcomes. The person who is responsible for a word or an action is usually the owner of the body doing the speaking and acting – usually in relationship to other humans that are also speaking and acting. When these words are defined this way “fault-finding” results in the surrender of personal power (power over what happened and what happens next) to some other person or force (i.e. the environment, the government, the company). In fault-finding and blame, the individual surrenders the power they have over their life to someone or something else. In this version of responsibility, each person takes ownership of the words or behaviors they initiated, sometimes regardless of the words and actions of others – thus maintaining their own power over their own lives.
Another term that comes up, when discussing responsibility is “consequence”. While I am not trying to separate “responsibility” from “consequence;” there are in fact consequences for every choice – either positive or negative. Responsibility does not have to be only about negative consequence, looking for “the person to blame;” instead it can be more about choosing one’s consequences, good or bad, as “this is my life and I have power to make it what I choose it to be.”
Path to Freedom
In God’s economy we get in trouble when we agree to what we can’t do, do not want to do, or what we intend to do. See Matthew Chapter 5, verses 33-37. From God’s perspective, we are accountable for what we chose to say and do, not what we are expected to do by others, or what another has done. See Acts chapter 5, verses 1-11.
If “responsibility” were simply the ability to respond, person A would simply state what they did, what happened, and maybe include what they were attempting to achieve in order to be “responsible.” Each person would then state what they did and what happened, retaining full power over what they do next. This may seem obvious or simplistic. If it sounds obvious, I propose that many people do not live “responsibly” in that the reasons given for their circumstances are the result of the actions of others or forces beyond their control. If it sounds simplistic, I propose that by adding too many definitions to the word (by making it too complex), the word is loses any meaning.
If you are curious about the idea of how to simplify the expectations on your life – both the ones others put on you and/or the ones you might put on yourself – contact us. We want to help!
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