The Responsible One
“Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”
My name is Norma Donovan, and I’m a recovering responsibility addict. While taking an online assessment, the discovery of responsibility as my number one strength seemed to be more of a curse than a blessing. The beauty of that talent though is that my heart longs to obey God.
The book, Living Your Strengths states the “responsibility theme forces you to take psychological ownership for anything you commit to, and whether large or small, you feel emotionally bound to follow it through to completion.” Yep, that’s me. I will do whatever it takes to fulfill a responsibility…even if it kills me. That almost happened a few years ago. While training for a triathlon, I was so focused on going on a scheduled bike ride with friends I almost ignored my chest pain. Fortunately it was raining that morning, so I couldn’t fulfill my commitment. Instead, I went to the ER, only to discover I had had a mild heart attack.
Having the responsibility talent makes it easy to place my identity in being “the responsible one.” Being responsible makes me feel I’m the linchpin, as if all of life hinges on me. It doesn’t. Jesus is our linchpin. He alone holds things together.
Still to this day, the lines are blurry between what is really my responsibility and what belongs to someone else. The need to be needed caused my worth to become enmeshed in being responsible. My identity was wrongly placed in being the responsible one instead of where it should be: in Christ.
At times I’ve wondered how Matthew 11:30 can be true when Jesus states, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Taking responsibility that doesn’t belong to me, or taking the burdens of the world upon my shoulders, nullifies the grace of God. The burden will feel heavy and the yoke will be difficult.
Jesus could have felt responsible to heal everyone He met, but He didn’t. Instead He did what He saw the Father doing. In John 5:19, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” Jesus only did His Father’s will, nothing more and nothing less. There’s always enough grace to do the will of God. Freedom comes when I only do what God has asked me to do and not take more responsibility than what He’s given to me. I want it to be said of me, “She did her Father’s will.“
Because being responsible is such a knee-jerk reaction, my vision of what is my responsibility isn’t always clear. I sometimes need to ask myself, “Does this responsibility belong to me or does it belong to someone else?” “Are these my shoes to wear and walk in or are they yours?“
When I only do what God has directed and given me permission to do, then there is freedom and joy. When I wisely handle what has been entrusted to me, God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Placing my identity in what I do instead of who I am as God’s daughter, crushes me under the weight of responsibility. Ultimately, what God places in my hands is His responsibility. I am just to steward it. I need to make sure I’m only doing what He wants me to do. If you’re heading towards burnout, if you’re feeling the weight of responsibility upon your shoulders, if you think something turning out right depends on you, then it’s time to place the responsibility back upon the only shoulders that are strong enough. Let God, the Responsible One, carry it for you.
“The whole secret of abundant living can be summed up in this sentence: ‘Not your responsibility but your response to God’s ability.'”
Carl F. H. Henry
In what ways are you the “responsible one?”
Is part of your identity or worth enmeshed in responsibility, or is it in being God‘s child?
What responsibility is God asking you to let go of and release to someone else?