There are some things we are responsible for, and many others we only have a responsibility to. And too often we neglect our own obligations while taking on things that are not ours to own.
Photo by Matthew Padelski on Unsplash
We are responsible for the things under our control – those areas of life in which we are called to “rule” and exercise “dominion.” This is our kingdom or territory where what we say goes.
For instance, parents have a responsibility for their children. Leaders have a responsibility for their organizations. And we have a responsibility for ourselves.
If parents do not feed their kids, they are rightly held accountable. If an organization collapses, it’s the leaders who are ultimately charged with this failure. And if we fail to thrive and grow into the best version of ourselves, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
To be responsible for something carries with it the ability to make things happen.
If we cannot directly control the outcome, our responsibility may be to and not for.
We have a responsibility to those things we can influence for good. When there is good to do and we don’t do it, we’ve neglected this responsibility.
We influence by offering our gifts, insights, and observations to others. But to influence is not to control the outcome.
For example, we have a responsibility to love. But our duty to love does not come with the obligation to direct the actions of others.
We have satisfied our obligation to them by simply loving, even if they never change.
When we confuse our responsibility to with a responsibility for we often become demanding and frustrate those around us.
Be responsible. But remember what you have a responsibility for and what you simply have a responsibility to.