responsibilityOne of the evolutions I would like to see happen in my life in 2014 is a move towards taking greater responsibility for my actions (or at times, lack thereof).

Charles Finney once said, ‘It seems to be a law of human nature that when a person is accused of wrong, either by the conscience of any other agent, he must either confess or justify.’

We have become masters of justification, right? One of the biggest conflict causers in the first year of my marriage to the beautiful Val (tbV) was games. We love playing games, but we are both fairly competitive, and so often the end of a game would translate to one of us, or both perhaps, being in a bit of a mood (like a tsunami is ‘a bit of a wave’, you know). I would generally be in a great mood if I won, because I like winning games. But often Val would be in a bad mood if she won. And it was always my fault. Because I used to be a very bad loser.

And it was not usually overtly bad violent angry throwing-my-toys losing. No, it was much more subtle than that, and really not intended maliciously from me. From my perspective, i like to understand why I lost – if it was a strategy thing, I want to be able to figure out why it went wrong, so I play differently the next time. So it generally came from the place of me trying to analyze my game and figure things out. But to Valerie, the message was very clearly ‘Well, you couldn’t have won because you played better, it must have been luck or a bad move on my part of something I don’t understand yet.’ And so my response to losing – to justify instead of confess – took everything away from her winning. In essence I was robbing my wife of everything I liked to experience when I win a game. Not cool, Mister Fish! (and 10000 apologies, lovely wife!)

That is such a great illustration for how so many people do life, don’t you think?

Politicians… Sports stars… Movie producers after a box office bomb… Young children… me?

But not you, right? Of is some of this starting to ring some alarm bells?

When something goes wrong, the tendency is to explain it away, to cover over the seriousness of it, to justify and make excuses as to why it was not our fault.

i imagine that often it might be a combination of factors, and so perhaps a great question to start with might be, ‘What responsibility do I have in this situation?’ of perhaps, ‘How much of this do I need to own or own up to?’ Starting at that place instead perhaps ending up there after working through all the possible excuses, may be a great place to start in terms of growing character and even seeing more success happen. Because those questions, if asked honestly, can really result in much growth.

Well, for me, as I think about 2014 just being a few days away, this is something I want to be working on. And sticking it on here is the biggest form of accountability I could think of… take a month of two and all me how it’s going (and let’s hope I don’t justify!)

Starting in my game playing seems to be a more easy-to-track area… but then in my marriage, and in my friendships, and in the workplace and youth ministry, I need to learn towards confessing being my go-to place. Asking the hard questions honestly, keeping an eye on procrastination and distraction tendencies and having people check in on me.

That feels like a great and healthy evolution to see taking place in my life in 2014.

What is one thing you are going to be working on?

excuses[To head back to the start of this series, click here]

 

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