Late summer 2020 brought difficult decision-making opportunities for my husband and me, in the form of our beloved dog’s sudden shift in health. Routine day-to-day spiraled downhill in the form of a 5-hour emergency vet visit, a much-belated report of unusual liver numbers, and some choices about quality of life for an elderly pet; to complicate matters further, just a couple of months earlier we found out unexpectedly we were pregnant with our first child.
Difficult as making the decisions for our beloved dog was, particularly when planning for the cost of a baby as well, these were choices we had to make. Because both the dog and the baby were our responsibility.
Responsibility – A Challenge and Choice
There’s nothing inherently easy about being responsible for life, whether it’s pets, kids, an elderly person you make medical decisions for, etc. Responsibility is a wonderful, terrible weight—and for many, it’s a reason to run. In any given gathering, you might hear of parents who ran from the responsibility of raising a family, workers who ran from the responsibility of a new promotion, or people who walked out on significant others for fear of the responsibility of committing to the next step.
Let’s face it: many of us have a responsibility problem.
The fear of and fleeing from responsibility is not a modern one alone; even our forefathers in the faith faced the temptation to run from things God put them in charge of. Moses tried to pawn Israel’s rescue from slavery off on someone more adept of speech; Jonah tried to flee the country rather than deliver God’s message to Nineveh; and while Jesus never fled his responsibility, he didn’t make light of its burden either, begging God from the Garden of Gethsemane to take away the cup of suffering that came with the responsibility of bearing the sins of mankind.
It’s ultimately to Jesus here, as in all things, that we should look to model our godly conduct when faced with responsibility; for though his destiny and the weight of it was ultimately greater than anything the rest of us will ever know, he stepped into that burden, embracing his responsibility as Savior and illustrating a beautiful truth:
The children of God were not made to run from responsibility, but to embrace it.
What It Means to Be Made For This
Yes, we were made for responsibility, brothers and sisters. God wants to entrust things to us and make us responsible for them, and He wants us to rise to the occasion, learning and growing admirably along the way. He isn’t content to leave us where we are, only in charge of a little bit here and there; He knows precisely how He designed people, and it was not for the small things we may be comfortable with.
Think of our farthest-back ancestors. In the Garden of Eden, the perfect Paradise, the world as it was intended to be, Adam and Eve didn’t lollygag their days away in relaxation doing whatever they pleased. God gave them dominion over the Garden and buried within that term in the Hebrew language of the first couple chapters of Genesis are elements of “tilling” and “keeping”. This is confirmed in Genesis 3 where because of Adam’s sin, his labor became much harder with far scarcer results; he was already working the land, but now it was going to fight back.
So we see that from mankind’s very formation, we were made for service, to be responsible for something—in Adam’s case, the garden of God’s paradise.
This theme carries on throughout Scripture. We see people given responsibility for leading and judging God’s people, administering the Tabernacle and Temple, rebuilding and restoring, and more. In parables, Jesus beautifully portrayed the responsibility of servants given talents by their master, expected to steward them wisely—in other words, to handle their talents responsibly—and when they did, they were given more and ushered into the master’s favor. In Luke 16, Jesus says “Whoever is faithful in very little is faithful also in much,” speaking of monetary responsibility, and in Luke 12, “Everyone to whom much was given, of that one much will be required, and from the one to whom much was committed, even more will be demanded.”
As we prove ourselves, we are granted more under our jurisdiction, more for which we are responsible. Many can attest to this in both the spiritual and secular, where a person might shift from congregation member to worship leader or pastor, much like an entry-level employee can become a manager or even co-owner of a business as they prove themselves faithful. This is such a godly principle, and the addition of responsibility is not something to flee from but a privilege to step into; God gives us responsibility when we have proven ourselves capable.
Shepherd boys who fought off lions and bears for the flock became kings; slaves who proved themselves righteous became second to Pharaoh; the one who stayed faithful to every single one of his Father’s commands now sits at His right hand, head of the Church, in the ultimate position of authority.
Step Into Responsibility
Do you see it? My friends, we were made for responsibility. God desires us to grow and strengthen ourselves in undertaking and executing our responsibilities justly, fairly, and righteously so that we can gain more responsibility and continue to serve Him, bettering ourselves and those around us and caring for the sheep of God’s pastures.
Let’s not fall into the world’s trap of seeing responsibility as a negative thing to avoid or run from, feeling like we aren’t built for it or will never be able to bear it. Quite the opposite is true, in fact; we were made for responsibility, to be caretakers of great and small matters, great and small things, all of which are important to God. He will give us the wisdom, courage, and strength to grow into responsibility. He won’t yoke us unfairly to what we can’t handle, but what He entrusts to us we are certainly capable of caring for, even if we don’t immediately see that in our human strength.
We need to step forward boldly into the challenge responsibility presents, accepting it as a joy to navigate and something God will teach us to learn and grow in. What a wonderful opportunity to prove ourselves faithful stewards of everything He entrusts to us!