What Ever Happened To Responsibility?


By Myrna Conrad

Webster defines responsibility as “the quality or state of being responsible: such as a moral or mental accountability; reliability, trustworthiness; something for which one is responsible. There seems to be a trend today of people looking for ways to avoid responsibility and blame others for their mistakes or misfortunes. This lack of willingness to take responsibility often stems from the attitude of entitlement. The more entitled a person feels, the more apt they are to blame their situation on the failings of others.

We all have different areas of responsibility, whether they are at home, at work, in school, in our community or in our church. Yet, there are some areas of responsibility that we all share.

Each of us is responsible for our own actions. There are some things that we have no control over what family we are born into, the period of time in which we live, our ethnicity or that we will someday die. We also don’t always have control over what others do around us or to us. But, we are responsible for what we choose to do and how we choose to respond in any situation. There seems to be an epidemic of blaming others today. Actually, blaming others goes all the way back to the beginning of time, when sin entered the world.

However, today blame seems to be the fall back response for all of life’s difficulties or poor decisions. Blaming others is simply an excuse for not taking responsibility for our own actions that have produced outcomes that we are not always happy about. My husband has a mantra that he likes to live by called the IABR principle: Input, Attitude, Behavior, Results. We do not always have control over the “input” that enters our lives, but we do have the choice of what our “attitude” will be. Our attitude will then flow over into our “behavior,” which will always affect the “results.” We are totally responsible for our attitude in any given situation.

Our attitudes have a big part in determining who we become as a person. We hear so much whining today about being held back by other people. We hear it in the form of inequality or lack of opportunity. However, at least in our country, we all have the opportunity to learn and to better ourselves. There is an overabundance of information available at our finger tips; more today than there has ever been before. There are examples of people who have come from very difficult or low economic situations who have worked hard to excel and make a good life for themselves. These are the people who stopped waiting for others to do something and took responsibility for their own betterment.

We are each responsible for taking care of our health. Sure, we all have different health issues throughout our lives, some of which are genetically predisposed and others that we have no control over being exposed to. However, we are each responsible for taking care to eat healthy, exercise and keep our minds active.

We all have people that we are responsible to care for, whether it be a spouse, children, aging parents, or employees. Sometimes these responsibilities can be tiresome and demanding, but to shirk them or expect someone else to handle them, is irresponsible. The responsibility to care for others is a blessing. Caring for others, takes us outside our self-focused nature and teaches us to put others first. There are many opportunities to learn and grow as we embrace our many different rolls of responsibility. We can learn more about others and more about ourselves.

We all have the responsibility to show respect to those around us. There is such a lack of respect shown in our country today. We see that played out in riots, in media bashing, in destruction of property and in cruelty to our fellow humans. We may not agree with another person or we may not like a person or their actions, but we can either stoop to their level or we can choose to treat them with respect. Often our attitude is that we will show respect to someone only if they show us respect. However, when we accept respect as our own responsibility, then we will find that others will reciprocate.

Winston Churchill said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” We all have been created in the image of God and with a purpose. We all have the opportunity for greatness so let’s take responsibility for our choices, our attitude and our actions.

How can you become more responsible? Here are a few strategies:

Be Aware:
– Understand your responsibilities and be diligent and accountable.
– Be aware of your attitude in any given situation.
– When you find yourself blaming, reflect on your responsibility in the situation.

Be Intentional:
– Lead by example. Don’t shirk your responsibilities.
– Take responsibility for your actions. Teach your children to take responsibility for theirs.
– Take your responsibilities seriously and build a reputation of someone who can be depended on.