Catalyst: Drivers and Passengers

13 05 2008

IMAGE: Drivers & Passengers
When life goes bad, most people blame someone else for the problem. They act like passengers. Leaders realize they are drivers-and are responsible for their attitudes and destination in life. Passengers and drivers have a totally different perspective on the journey. Passengers can goof off and give no thought to their direction. Drivers think about where they are going, who’s with them and how they will get to their goal.

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 21:28-31

LEARNING: I year ago I was coming home from church and I witnessed an accident. Someone who ran a red light and smashed into the car in front of me. I immediately pulled over and dialed 911 as I ran up to the car to see if everyone was alright. To be honest, I was freak’d out because I was the first person on the scene and it’s been a long time since my first aid certification in 8th grade. I get to the first car that was totaled and the 4 people in car were bruised, but nothing was broken. Thank God. As they began to climb out of the wreckage, the driver that hit them came over to me. He began them blame them for the accident. He started to say “didn’t you see me” and saying how good of a driver he was. As I walked him away form the shaken up family, he continued going on and on how it wasn’t his fault. I told him to not to talk to the family and that the Police will be here shortly to straighten everything out.

As I look back on my life, there are so many times that I’ve blamed someone else and not taken responsibility for my actions. I know I’ve stopped taking responsibility for my actions, when I start to make “IF” statements:

  • IF Kathy would only….
  • IF my kids would only…
  • IF the people at church would only…

1. Take responsibility for your actions and your reactions.

It can even be more subtle than actions, it can be emotions. I can blame my feelings on someone else. I feel this way because they did this. I’m upset because they did that. I’m just not feeling it spiritually. When in actuality I have chosen to feel this way. I have chosen to respond negatively to what has happened. My mom always said to take responsibility for your emotions, “People can’t make you happy or sad, only if you let them.”

2. Take responsibility for your emotions.

Last summer I was in a rut spiritually and through Bill Hybels at Leadership Conference, I realized that I was not taking responsibility for my spiritual journey. I was struggling with the condition of Epic, my frustrations with others and my own self doubt. I found myself complaining a lot and saying IF this or that would change then I would be better. The reality was I was blaming and making excuses for my shrunken heart for God and others. I wasn’t taking responsibility for my journey with Christ.

3. Take responsibility for your spiritual journey.

Why is this so important? Because when we fail to take responsibility for our lives, it completely derails us from impacting our world for Christ. Don’t Blame. Don’t make excuses. Take Responsibility.

What do you need to do to take responsibility for one of the three?

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7 responses

13 05 2008
Brandon

I have always been good about taking responsibility for my actions (especially being someone that is trying to build a business in the Michigan economy). I have always told myself that if I work had each and every day, no matter what, good things will happen – and for the most part, I am fortunate that they have.

However, when it comes to taking responsibility for my emotions, for some reason that’s a completely different story. I feel like I allow myself to ride a roller coaster of positive and negative emotions. I blame other people for bringing down my mood throughout the day or week. Sometimes I rebel, and tell myself that I’ll be in a better mood when things get better or when someone else changes their attitude – even though I know that’s not the right attitude.

Once thing that has helped me, is trying to make a commitment to pray before I leave for work each morning. I start out by thanking God for all of the good things that he has provided me with. Later on in the day if something trivial comes up that might bring me down, it helps me to remember that my life is pretty good and I always have a God that is there for me. If I can remember that, it then seems kind of silly to get upset about anything.

14 05 2008
Tim Kade

Brandon,
You’re a wise man. I can ride the emotional roller coaster in 2 seconds. I think you are right on in being proactive. When I am living in reactive mode, I am ruled by my emotions and not by Christ.

15 05 2008
Denise Hillbom

I have been a driving Christian leader for many years. Sometimes when we are literally driving, we can get distracted which is not a good thing. In ministery, the distractions come for me when I don’t stay focused on and sensitive to the people I am leading. Another thing that happens is I don’t think through what I say and follow through with what I promise. These distractions have caused me to apologize to God and three other people this week.

So, my actions and reactions continually challenge me. One thing I have learned (besides keeping my mouth shut in certain situations) is when god is in the middle of the mess, He does show us a way out. We all learn and have a clearer understanding of Him and each other. I am filled with gratitude for my Church family, who loves me despite my imperfections.

15 05 2008
Amy

I feel like I usually take responsibility for my actions but, like Brandon, struggle more with taking responisibility for my emotions. If I blame anyone, it is usually Tim. If I’m in a bad mood I can usually come up with a reason why it is his fault. Either he isn’t paying enough attention to me or he isn’t doing enough for me.
Though I do feel like I have been doing better at this lately. One way is by being grateful for Tim and that God brought him into my life. And also I’ve been more attentive to making each moment count. If I am conciously trying to make every part of my day captive to what God would want from me, it’s difficult to be in a bad mood.

15 05 2008
eric

My life is usually full of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and depression because I blame myself too much. I suppose to keep the driving metaphor, I think that sometimes I need to recognize that God’s hands are on the steering wheel at the same time as my own. Occasionally, I let go of the wheel altogether, but not in a good faithful way, but in a careless “I’m tired of caring because it hurts too much” kind of way. Then I let the car go wherever and see what happens. I agree with the talk about emotions being powerful and confusing, and that a preventative closeness to God and prayerful state of mind helps keep things between the lines.

16 05 2008
lisacaruss

Hmmm…I think the Blame Game is on the shelf in my house somewhere between Pictionary and Monopoly. =) It’s funny because just a few hours before I read this section, I said something to Craig about it being his fault that I forgot to change Charlie’s diaper before she went to bed because he took her away before I had a chance to do it….or something equally lame! I know that’s really small-scale example, but it did make me stop and think about how we tend to blame each other for our rookie-parent blunders. “It’s not my fault that YOU forgot the diaper bag” or “no wonder she’s not sleepy, YOU dipped her pacifier in YOUR Pepsi!”…(please, someone take my side on this one!) Heaven forbid our child develops ADHD – that little nugget of blame will haunt Craig for the rest of of his life (lol)!

But all kidding aside, I think the same is true for me as a ministry leader – it’s really great to have other people to rely on to build up my faith and encourage me, but I need to be careful that I don’t get lazy and overly dependent on others to help me grow spiritually. As for emotions, I’m right there in line for Emotional Coaster XL2008 with the rest of you! It’s really easy to feed off of the attitudes and energies of others, instead of going to God and letting Him determine how I react to different situations.

17 05 2008
Tim

I would say the thing I struggle the most with is taking responsibility for my spiritualy journey. I find myself frustrated with my spiritual life and feeling like I wish that I felt God more in my life, but then I don’t make time to seek him and his will for my life. I will find myself wondering why I am not closer to God, but at the same time I am not making it a priority to spend time with God to develop my relationship with him. I find myself expecting that spiritual journey to just happen naturally, when that is not the case. I need to make it a priority to spend time With God and to seek his will for my life. I need to take more responsibility and realize that if I truly desire to have a relationship with God, I need to do something about it. I understand that my actions and reactions are my responsibility, and that my emotions are my responsibility… But I often find myself expecting something else (small group, church, catalyst, propel) to take care of my spiritual growth. In reality, if I really want to grow spiritually, those are all great tools to do so, but I need to take responsibility myself to spend time with Him and seek out his will for my life.

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