We all have lessons to learn in life.
I don’t know about you but in my experience the more valuable they are, the more painful and unpleasant. It’s like that foul tasting cough medicine you take in winter – it’s horrible but it starts the healing process.
And the sooner we can learn them, the better. As I approach a ‘big’ birthday, I am all too aware that life is short and that there is never as much time as you think!
One of my biggest learning curves – and one that provokes huge! discussion and insights in a coaching workshop I offer – was learning to take responsibility for my life, past, present and future.
There is a growing realisation that emotional intelligence [EI] is more vital and viable professionally and socially than IQ. As you will see, there is a clear link between EI and taking responsibility for your life and its outcomes.
Two important aspects of EI are self awareness and self regulation. Self awareness is essentially understanding you – what drives you, what your values are, your strengths and weaknesses and your thoughts and feelings. Being honest about who you are so that you act from a position of strength.
With this knowledge, you can make good decisions and set accurate and achievable goals. You are helped in reaching these goals through self regulation – being able to deal with your emotions, no matter how difficult the situation which creates a positive and productive attitude that enables you to find solutions. Without this self-control we are vulnerable.
“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” [Proverbs 25:28 ESV]
It seems to me that if you look at self regulation from the viewpoint of Christianity, that it’s the gift of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control [Galatians 5:22,23] I love it when modern research reflects what we read in The Bible!
Hiding from the truth
Andy Stanley said in a sermon that, “Irresponsibility is very difficult to see in the mirror.” He’s right!
Psychologists talk about the self-serving bias which is a tactic or process used to protect or enhance self-esteem, in every area of life: school, work, sport, spending.
“For example, a student who attributes earning a good grade on an exam to their own intelligence and preparation but attributes earning a poor grade to the teacher’s poor teaching ability or unfair test questions is exhibiting the self-serving bias.” [Wikipedia]
As a teacher and a life coach I have witnessed the self-serving bias in action. It’s not a pretty sight.
It seems that since Adam and Eve humans have passed the blame in order to spare themselves the consequences of their actions.
And it’s not helpful in the long term because it deludes us into being less than we can be, when we refuse or fail to take responsibility for our actions.
It was T.O.U.G.H. to look at myself and my life and accept that I’d played a part in many of the things that had gone wrong.
There was lots of crying into the pillow. Lots of confession.
Sadly, neither you nor I can change the past. You just have to learn the lesson, make amends where possible and move on.
It was even tougher to realise that if I wanted things to change, then it was down to me to make it happen.
Help yourself help yourself 🙂
But it was totally worth the effort I made to overcome the bit of me that wanted to play the victim or the martyr and my childhood influences.
Like forgiveness, taking responsibility is a great gift that you give yourself – the benefits are incredible!
Thank God that it doesn’t matter what we’ve done in the past – every day offers you fresh start to confess and start over and and a fresh opportunity to plonk yourself firmly in the driving seat of your life and where it’s headed.
When you fully accept that you are in charge of the outcomes of your life and how you react to circumstances, then you can truly move forward.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that you stop praying for wisdom and guidance – far from it! It’s more that I believe that God can only steer a moving boat. Or at least a boat that has its course planned out and has left the harbour 🙂
Areas of responsibility:
Your talents, skills and gifts
Your relationship with God
Fabulous changes ahead!
Once we get a grip on each aspect of life, things begin to change.
You will feel more motivated and more excited about the present and the future. You can stop blaming others (even if it is their fault, deal with the situation) and know that if problems come against you, you’ll find a way through.
I don’t believe that we can all be anything we want or have everything we want – God gifted you with what you need to fulfil your particular purpose.
What can be better than that?
I realise now, with great sadness, that I haven’t ‘traded’ all my talents throughout my lifetime, that I buried some due to my lack of awareness and lack of responsibility. [Read the passage from Matthew [here]
Don’t let the same happen to you!
Life is a glorious adventure – we are here to have fun and enjoy it as well as helping others as much as we can. I have found the following verse so helpful – epecially when I want to wriggle a bit out of taking responsibility:)
“Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” (Galatians 6: 5 MSG)
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I’m going to leave you with this quote and link.
The Bible teaches us that our responsibility as believers is to work uncompromisingly as the Lord has gifted us and leads us in this life. We must fully understand that until the Lord returns there are souls to reach and ministries of every sort to be performed. We are responsible for our money, time, energy, talents, gifts, bodies, minds, and spirits, and we should invest in nothing that does not in some way contribute to the work of the Lord. James tells us, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26).