Responsibility


I have been reflecting on the differences between forgiveness and reconciliation and the Biblical support for both. My heart conviction is that because I have been forgiven by the Lord I understand forgiveness. I have been reconciled to him. As he has changed and altered my life and heart I am now able and called to give forgiveness to others, offer them grace, and work toward reconciliation. With the Lord at the center of the relationship I truly believe forgiveness and reconciliation is not only possible but necessary between two believers. Many I talk to do not share this same conviction though. They feel it is okay to say “enough is enough” and walk away from a relationship. They feel it is okay to create boundaries that keep the others at bay. While I am a strong support of discipline, boundaries, and accountability I believe these are only successful when done in love and with a heart of teaching others rather than building walls.

Steve Cornell has posted a good Biblically based article on Forgiveness and Reconciliation at his blog. Check it out for the full article, but here are two lists he posts: Actions the offender needs to take, and Guidelines for the offended.

The offender:

1. Accepts full responsibility for his or her actions. (Instead of: “Since you think I’ve done something wrong…” or “If have done anything to offend you…”).
2. Accepts accountability from others.
3. Does not continue in the hurtful behavior or anything associated with it.
4. Does not have a defensive attitude about his or her being in the wrong.
5. Does not have a light attitude toward his or her hurtful behavior.
6. Does not resent doubts about his or her sincerity- nor the need to demonstrate sincerity. (Especially in cases involving repeated offenses)
7. Makes restitution wherever necessary.

For those who are hesitant to reconcile: Ten Guidelines to consider

It is common for those who have been seriously hurt to feel hesitant about reconciling with their offenders. When your offender is genuinely repentant, however, it is important to open yourself to the possibility of restoration. Remember, Jesus spoke about reconciliation with a sense of urgency (see Matthew 5:23-24). If you are hesitant to reconcile, work through the ten guidelines on the next pages.

1.     Be honest about your motives
2.     Be humble in your attitude
3.     Be prayerful about the situation
4. Be willing to admit ways you might have contributed to the problem
5.     Be honest with the offender
6.     Be objective about your hesitancy
7.     Be clear about the guidelines for restoration
8.     Be realistic about the process
9.     Be mindful of God’s control
10.  Be alert to Satan’s schemes


I had a good discussion with someone this week about responsibility. An insurance company has a commercial out talking about responsibility. I like the commercial, but sometimes as I watch it I am left feeling that it is easy to do the right thing. Sometimes it is easy, but sometimes it isn’t, and when it involves other people it can be very messy.

If I make a decision to share information with someone I have made a choice. I am responsible for the choice I made to share. The other person would not have known the information if I had not shared. They are responsible for their choices regarding what they do with the information, but I am still responsible for the information I shared in the first place. That is exactly the situation from my last church. I made a choice to share information with T. She was a leader of a home group, the second eldest woman in the church, and by all I could see of her life she is a believer who is seeking to live a Godly life. I shared my story and my struggles with her and asked her for help. My intentions were good and were not to hurt anyone but were to work through all issues and resolve any conflicts that existed.

I made a choice.

I choose to share my story with T.

My choice cost me.

I believe T was well-intentioned, but I have learned that she does not have the best judgment about what and how to share with others. What T did and said are between her and God. I can only be responsible for my decisions and actions.

I am responsible for my decisions and actions.

When we do or say something we are responsible for it. Our feelings might change from when we first said something, but we are still responsible for what we said. Our heart might have been in the right place but our words may not have adequately reflected our heart…we are still responsible for our words.

In this case the things I shared with T made it back to the pastor and he interpreted it as me speaking against him. That was never my heart and I do not believe my words said anything like this, however I did share that there was relational and communication struggle between us. Due to this I was charged with disunity. I didn’t stand in front of the church body or even a group of people and say anything that blatantly opposed the pastor. I told a woman my story in confidence. I had prayerfully considered speaking with her. I went with a heart that wanted to work through things and not hurt anyone. However, I still made the choice to share.

I have to accept the fact that I did speak in a manner that caused disunity.

I have to accept that I stood against my pastor because I told someone that conflict existed.

It wasn’t my heart to hurt anyone, but in reality I did.

It wasn’t my heart to cause disunity, but in reality I did.

I did seek to share my story with others, but in reality it was shared.

I turned to a friend to seek counsel and guidance, but the friend I turned to was a bad choice.

I came seeking assistance to resolve things, but because I choose the wrong person the conflict grew.

I wanted to find resolve, but instead I took comfort in the fact that T shared some concerns and frustrations she had regarding the direction of the church. That was gossip and it was wrong.

I wanted to walk through the struggle with others, to be in community, to share life with others, but I did not do that in a healthy manner.

I am learning that taking responsibility and admitting our faults and shortcomings is hard, because our mistakes are not always made with an intentional heart.

I take responsibility for my words, my actions, and my choices. I was hurtful and sinful in the choices I made and I have to walk through the repercussions of those decisions. I repent of those choices and would not make them again.

In my case that means I can’t have relationship with people I love. I am not able to share life and faith with people I consider family. I am not granted forgiveness by leaders and others that I consider friends. The price I have to pay is high for the choices I made, but that happens at times. Many people have had to pay prices for being on a road when a car accident took place, being in a town when a natural disaster took place, or being at a wrong place at the wrong time.

Responsibility is hard, very hard, but I am learning that it is important to take responsibility. It is what a person of integrity, character, and truth should do. It is what I as a Christian believe Christ asks me to do.