"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands ... so that you will not be dependent on anybody."1
One of the great principles we need to emphasize to keep ourselves and our society healthy and productive is the principle of personal responsibility. It's a principle that needs, through repetition, to be programmed into our belief system. It needs to be taught and demonstrated in the home and at every level of society—including among the highest business and political leaders in our communities and nation.
If people don't believe they are responsible, they will not act responsibly. If they believe and know they are responsible, most will consistently act responsibly.
Obviously, we weren't responsible for our background and upbringing but we are fully responsible for what we do about these and for what we become. The world doesn't owe us a living. As the Bible teaches, if we are unwilling to work we shouldn't eat.
When we repeatedly do anything for others that they can and need to do for themselves we can make and keep them overdependent, immature and irresponsible. It is not the loving thing to do.
I remember reading about some sea gulls in a fishing village that, for many years, fed on the scraps the fishermen left. When the fishing industry in this place closed, the sea gulls had forgotten how to gather food for themselves. They died of starvation.
The same principle applies to people. When we do things to keep them overdependent, we destroy their growth and maturity. It's the same with God, he will bend the heavens to touch the earth to do for us what we can't do for ourselves—such as on the cross of Calvary—but he won't do for us what we can and need to do for ourselves. As another has said, "God feeds the sparrows but he doesn't throw the food into their nest."
One effective way to program responsibility into one's unconscious mind is by constantly saying to yourself, either silently or out loud: "I am responsible. I am responsible. I am responsible." And say it with the feeling that you really mean it and believe it. Just mouthing the words is meaningless.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, I am responsible. Thank you for granting me this freedom. Help me to act accordingly always in all ways. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (NIV).
© Copyright 1998-2008 by ACTS International