“Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Phil 2:12-13
Who would ever think that being responsible is a key to having peace and joy? When we think of someone being responsible, we imagine someone being dependable, trustworthy, and accountable. Sounds boring, right?
At the Center for Christian Life Enrichment we use “responsible” in terms of a principle which, if applied, can empower us to live magnificent lives; instead of simply a way to be good and stay out of trouble. Yalom writes, “Responsibility means authorship. To be aware of responsibility is to be aware of creating one’s own self, destiny, life predicament, feelings and, if such be the case, one’s own suffering.”
A commitment to being responsible means that I am the author of my life. I can no longer blame others, circumstances or God for the outcomes of my life. I am free from the burden of feeling like I am a victim. I am not responsible for what others may do, but I am responsible for how I choose to respond. For example, I cannot prevent you from judging me, but I am can choose how I let your opinion affect me.
Adhering to the principle of responsibility is the antidote for victimhood. When we find ourselves operating within the Drama Triangle, whether we are playing the role of victim, persecutor or rescuer, we are disregarding the principle of responsibility. If I am the author of my life, how can I blame you for anything? I believe we are created in the image of God and as such we are agents of creation and not victims. We are designed to generate and lead productive lives.
Experiencing and responding to our feelings is a critical skill in living responsibly. Many of us grew up learning all kinds of rules limiting the expression of our feelings. For example, for some, it was OK to be sad but shameful to be angry. For others, anger was acceptable but fear was a sign of weakness. All our feelings are part of our divine design. It is our job to learn how to use them responsibly.
Feelings are vital indicators alerting us to our hungers for what we want and need. For example, when a deer feels fear, immediately the sympathetic nervous system engages and the survival instincts take over. The deer’s life depends on how he chooses to respond to his fear. A deer must decide whether to freeze, flee or fight. If he freezes in the woods, there is likely to be a much better outcome than if he chooses to freeze on the highway with a truck coming at him.
We disregard our feelings to our detriment. When we ignore fear we invite the buildup of worry and anxiety. When we acknowledge our fear and thoughtfully consider our response, we act according to the principle of responsibility. At times we may dismiss an imagined fear, recognizing it as a fantasy. At other times, our fear will inform us that we need to act immediately. It is our responsibility to learn how to better interpret the wisdom of our feelings.
We have been equipped with gifts and talents intended to be used in the fulfillment of our life purpose. It is our responsibility to strive to uncover what we are most passionate about as we exercise our gifts. Each of us is responsible to fulfill our mission and live the most meaningful lives possible. Assuming full responsibility for our lives is foundational to living lives of meaning, purpose and passion.
Consider how one of our Christian counselors could support you in living the most meaningful and potent lives possible.
 Yalom, I. (1980). Esistential Psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books, p. 218