Nine Things Leaders Are Not Responsible For

Read Time ~4 Minutes

Leadership Lesson: Refusing to absorb people’s responsibilities doesn’t mean you’re unloving.

“For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” (Galatians 6:5, NLT)

You can plead with people, appeal to their conscience, and make compelling arguments, but at the end of the day, people are responsible for their own decisions. 

Think about it from the perspective of your own life:  If YOU slip into some radical idiocy for even a short season, YOU will bear the consequences of said idiocy. 

We (and unfortunately those around us) will bear the pain of our own foolishness. 

People can’t save us from this, and more importantly for this post, we can’t save OTHERS from it. 

Jesus didn’t take responsibility for:

  • Peter’s fickle faith (Matthew 14:31), 
  • James’ and John’s pyromaniac motives (wanting to call down fire – Luke 9:54), 
  • or Martha’s misplaced anxiety (Luke 10:40). 

He told them the truth and let the responsibility for obedience rightly fall on them.

“The companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)

In his thorough treatment of the Biblical fool in Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud explains that foolishness is a heart-set that stubbornly keeps people from being teachable or adjusting themselves to the corrections that God, life, and others are TRYING to bring their way. 

“Whereas the chief descriptor of the wise person is that when the light shows up, he looks at it, receives it, joins it, and adjusts his behavior to align with the light, the fool does the opposite: he rejects the feedback, resists it, explains it away, and does nothing to adjust to meet its requirements. In short, the fool tries to adjust the truth so he does not have to adjust to it.” (Cloud, Necessary Endings, Kindle location 2263)

Dude. Pray for them. Love them.  But don’t allow people to pawn off their responsibilities onto you. 

 Nine Things You’re NOT Responsible For:

  1. Other people’s life-damaging pride.
  2. Other people’s sinful choice to complain (and reap the consequences).
  3. Other people’s poor communication skills.
  4. Other people’s lack of courage to be clear about what they want.
  5. Other people’s poor relating strategies which result in doors closing for them.
  6. Other people’s meditation on negativity and past hurts, which make them difficult to work with.
  7. Other people’s poor choice to wallow in self-pity.
  8. Other people’s lack of preparation which ensures certain opportunities will avoid knocking on their door.
  9. Other people’s stubborn refusal to be corrected by those who could have helped them.

That’s on them. 

We ALL walk in pride. We are all less-than-correctable at times. We’ve all caused damage to our lives because of our own foolishness. 

We may not be producing ALL of our pain, but we are all causing SOME of our pain (see Ecclesiastes 7:20 and James 3:2). 

This is what it means to be a sinner. We’re all hurting ourselves.

What This Doesn’t Mean

  • This doesn’t mean we judge people’s hearts (we can’t know them anyway). (See Jeremiah 17:9 and Matthew 7:1)
  • This doesn’t mean we don’t have compassion for the destructive consequences of sin. 
  • This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek to be helpful where people are open (read: teachable) to it. 

It just means that, as a leader, we recognize that God has called people (even those who don’t know Him) to RESPONSIBILITY, and we should refuse to eat up all of our emotional margin about responsibilities that are rightly someone else’s.

Leadership Lesson: Refusing to absorb people’s responsibilities doesn’t mean you’re unloving. 

If it was helpful, it’s super encouraging to me when you comment and share this resource.

This post has a related GOODIE BAG which is full of additional resources to help you grow. Find it here.

Recommended Resources*

Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud

*I may earn a small commission for my endorsement of these books. Your purchase helps support our efforts to develop bible leaders.

Posted on December 12, 2018

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David Russo
David Russo
4 years ago

Great short read with some helpful information. Thank you!

Mark Carter
4 years ago
Reply to  David Russo

Thanks my brother! So glad it was helpful. I need these reminders all the time.

Faith W
Faith W
3 years ago

Yes! Wise principles to live by, and be convicted by as well. Thanks, Mark.

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