I Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
False responsibility is a widespread problem, and so pervasive that most people who suffer from it have no idea they have this spiritual disease. They think it’s simply part of their personality when it’s actually a demonic pressure from the outside. It’s one of the great problems of this age, and has brought untold misery to millions—from those who struggle under it to those who interact with those struggling.
It’s characterized by misreading the Scripture above in one of these ways:
• It’s required that I make sure that certain things happen.
• It’s required that I bear the responsibility for guaranteeing certain outcomes.
• It’s required that I worry, and I have good reasons for doing that.
• It’s required that I make everyone happy/like me.
• It’s required that I make sure my wife/husband/children are never unhappy or angry.
• It’s required of me to be responsible for someone else’s walk with Christ.
Doesn’t that list get ridiculous? It does but it doesn’t seem that foolish when it remains inside and unstated. It only looks that way when it’s brought into the light.
The simple truth is that we are called only to be faithful. That means that we do what God wants us to do, and we leave the rest in His capable hands. Except for parents of young children and those who have direct oversight for other people, we are not responsible for what other people do. Most of us take on the burden of guaranteeing certain outcomes—and reaping the terrible weight and stress of that trap—instead of realizing that we have a limited and focused responsibility—to do what the Lord wants us to do.
This is a deeply rooted problem in those who suffer from it, and it’s an issue that needs attention and prayer. We can begin the process by asking what would happen if we stopped taking responsibility for other people’s happiness, or if we realized that we actually don’t have control over the areas we might think we do (and that acting as if we do isn’t good for anyone). This usually produces a fear of some sort—even a terror or panic at what might happen. This is the point where we begin to work things through with His help, or let the fear stop us.
We are not God, and we are not to take over the areas that are His. Other people are going to do things we don’t want, and it’s generally not on us to take control of things and make sure they turn out the way we think. Of course, the sins and failures of others will bring us new opportunities to be a faithful steward, but we’re still not responsible for anything other than our own actions.
Getting free from false responsibility doesn’t mean that we let everything go; the choices are not control vs. a lack of responsibility. It only means that we need to learn and do our real responsibilities, and truly trust Him for the rest.
Prayer: Lord, please show me where I’m operating under false responsibility. I can’t see it if You don’t show me. Minister to my fears that keep me operating this way. Show me where and how I’m to be faithful, and help me to see how much You want to be God in my life and the lives of those around me.