Exaggerated Sense of Responsibility

by Joan C Webb on June 2, 2011

Piano music imageI sat in the auditorium next to the guests I’d invited to join me for this special event. While engrossed in the beautiful music, it dawned on me: Joan, you’re enjoying this concert for the sheer pleasure of it, without being preoccupied with your guests’ thoughts, feelings or reactions. I smiled then and I’m smiling now as I remember.

For years, an overzealous sense of responsibility overshadowed my personal enjoyment. When I invited another person to attend a church service, concert or even a luncheon, I felt duty-bound to see that she enjoyed the time and gained new insight. Now I realize that I’m not responsible for someone else’s perceptions, attitudes or knowledge.

Through my years of life coaching and speaking, I’ve noticed an epidemic of over-helping. Those of us who want to join God in His work sometimes live by a false premise that we must fix what’s broken, heal what hurts and right what’s wrong (in our opinion). This over-active sense of responsibility can lead us to believe that we’re more powerful than we really are. It’s exhausting.

God is the Almighty One, and He wants to release us from this unnecessary responsibility. He is the one in charge of the world, not us. When we give Him our shoulds, musts and ought-tos, we begin to live in genuine freedom. You and I are not responsible for anyone else’s life fulfillment. Only our own. What uncomplicated delight!

Yesterday a coaching client emailed me to let me know that she had just read the above devotional in my book, It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life. She wrote, “It hit the nail on the head with what I often feel with others.” Then she explained that she’s excited about letting go of the responsibility that isn’t hers.

What about you? What unreasonable I should or I must belief has worn you out and threatened to keep you from experiencing your own satisfaction or pleasure? I’d love to hear from you.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Deana June 10, 2011 at 8:39 am

Love this! Oh let me count the ways. :)

Kristi Holl June 10, 2011 at 9:26 am

Oh yes! From volunteering too much to trying to “fix” all the pain in my DivorceCare group to feeling responsible to fix the tiredness I see in my daughters (mothers of little ones)–I fight it all the time. I LOVED this post. I think I will go back and re-read your books now!

Joan C. Webb June 10, 2011 at 11:48 am

G’ Morning, Deana and Kristi! Thanks for “loving” this. Shall all 3 of us “count the ways” we can and will “de-activate” our over-active sense of responsibility today? :-)
Enjoy reading, Kristi! I saw your other note. May you, your daughter and your friend enjoy the “It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life devo book you just ordered! I’m smiling here.

Lois Pepple January 17, 2012 at 11:38 am

Thanks for posting this. It really spoke to me. I think I need to get your book, and read it more than once. It is so hard to love family members, and friends, and not feel responsible, much of the time, for their happiness. I do know, of course, that I am not responsible for anyone except me; as if I have power over any other person. Only God has. And while He continues to work on me, I need to release my concerns about those I love to Him. Giving my care to God in prayer is exactly what He wants me to do. He will take care of them. Releasing my concerns to Him will bring me relief and contentment.

Joan C. Webb January 23, 2012 at 1:09 am

Hi Lois, Thanks for your comments. I’m mellowed that the post spoke to you. I think you would enjoy reading The Relief of Imperfection. I noticed that on Amazon right now, it is on sale for $6. That’s a real bargain! :-)
You’d like the daily book, too. It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life.
Let me know if you get them.
Relief-blessings to you this week!

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