Is it possible that I’m too responsible?
I’ve been wrestling this week with that question. As a firstborn child, and apt to try to please others, have I overreached in my efforts to be responsible?
We can’t get God to love us any more than He already does. It is obvious to me that He wants me to grow in my knowledge of His love (Ephesians 3:18) and Jesus wants us to learn to trust Him more and more. We can’t be swayed into thinking we need to perform more or better, to earn God’s love. His grace is an ocean that we are swimming in every second of our lives. This might be one reason we are “overreaching.” We must remember this truth: we are sons and daughters of the King, and He has demonstrated His great love for us.
There are some voices in our world that will tell us that we need to take more responsibility. These voices are often highly regarded by our society. They are voices that are fixated on the roles we play instead of living out of our true identity. The message to us is that we need to work harder, because what we are doing is not good enough. When hearing this message, many Christians embrace this notion and equate their dissatisfaction with their failure to apply themselves. This is the root of religion without relationship. Others hear this call to work harder and rebel against it falling into a dependent state on others, failing to carry their own load (Gal. 6:5).
There is a measure of stewardship and responsibility we must take – but according to the Greek word in Galatians 6:5, it is backpack size, (the rations of a soldier for one day), it is doable and should be carried by that person. Shoving it off on others is what our counseling friends would say, shows a level of codependency or enabling. As followers of Christ, we are challenged to come into alignment with God’s purposes and plans every day – and make the necessary adjustments to obey God and follow Him. This is the process of being made to look like Jesus more every day (2 Cor. 3:18).
So, what is the deal with my overreaching in responsibility? I am convinced that the Lord is teaching me about this… so where do I need to adjust my thinking and my actions?
I think I am wrestling with a trust issue and a rest issue.
God is calling us to go deeper in the ways that we trust Him. He is looking for a ruthless trust that is risky and a little crazy, not calculated and safe (two things the world seems to reward). Do I trust God to take care of others, or am I trying to protect them out of my own strength? When I do this, it puts an overwhelming burden on my shoulders I wasn’t designed to carry (Matthew 11:28-30). There is not enough time in the day to think through all the ways we would need to act on other’s behalf. When we have this posture - we will be tempted constantly to control our surroundings and that is a never-ending drain on our energy and bears no good fruit. I once had a dream where the Lord put His right hand on my left shoulder as we both looked at my children and he spoke and said, “I will keep them safe.” Perhaps God knew that my wife and I would be tempted to try to protect our kids from every single harmful aspect of life and we needed to hear His truth about our family. “Responsibility” can turn into a masked version of efforts to control in my life … if I am not careful. It can be a sophisticated way of declaring with my thoughts and actions that if it wasn’t up to me, God couldn’t protect, lead, guide, or help others. It’s very subtle but very real and worth taking inventory in your life.
God is also calling us to go deeper in the ways that we rest in Him. Trust has a byproduct of rest in our hearts. If I am struggling with trusting God, I’m not really entering into the rest that God has for me (Heb. 4:9-11). Do you find a lack of peace in your life? It might mean that you aren’t finding rest. When we put Jesus back at the center of our lives, it begins to re-sort our priorities and challenges us to let go of people, events and circumstances. As a leader you can use your influence in ways to avoid pain or struggle, and run straight into the arms of striving and working to make things happen on your own strength. There is a fine line between leading and manipulating. Leaders sometimes control or manipulate in fear that others will have pain – so they justify this behavior as good leadership that’s leading people to a better future, when in reality, they are just overpromising safety and peace in the middle of a warzone.
I want to find trust and rest at the center with Jesus and I am learning how to trust Jesus with the lives of others, because He is trustworthy and allows them to experience pain so that they will grow and look more and more like Him. So, when I overreach in being “responsible,” most times I am leading others to a place where it can delay their development and make them even more disillusioned when bad things happen.
Lord, help me trust you with the hearts of others more completely as I rest in your sufficiency and love for us!