Have you ever shared Jesus with someone who doesn’t know Him and felt as though it was your responsibility to make sure they “get it?” Are you frustrated by the time and energy you pour into others with little evidence that it’s making a difference? You’re not alone. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the results of our work for the Kingdom. But if we are not careful, it creates an unnecessary burden and is dangerous. It is equally important for us to know what is NOT our responsibility.
A Timeless Challenge
In the book of Acts, the apostle Paul is meeting with the elders from Ephesus and saying goodbye. He senses this will be the last time they see each other. He acknowledges the hardships he has endured and says he couldn’t imagine it any other way. All he wants to do is the job God has given him. He goes on to say:
“I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death it is not my fault, for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know.”
Paul was able to see that he had done his part and he didn’t take responsibility for other people’s decisions…whether or not they did what God wanted them to do. Paul seems to know what belongs to him and what doesn’t. It is an important lesson for us to learn as well because if we are not careful, we can end up taking ownership of some things that don’t belong to us. For example, I have been known to carry the burden take personal ownership of other people’s spiritual growth and maturity. Can anyone relate?
We are not responsible for the outcome. We can’t own the decisions and choices of others. We can’t have a relationship with Jesus for them. We own our personal relationship with Jesus and our life and leadership decisions…and as Paul said, we are called to not shrink from whatever God calls us to do and say.
We can invite, encourage, pray and model to the best of our ability with the Lord’s help but that’s it. It is at that point that we need to let go. We are not responsible for making anyone do anything. The Holy Spirit is the one who reveals Truth. He is the one who transforms.
Jesus has unconditional love and concern for people. He sees everything that is happening and knows what is needed. Pray for transformation. Guard against condemnation and resentfulness. Know that God wants people to grow closer to Him even more than we do! Whether we are parents, grandparents, pastors, ministry leaders, elders, you name it, we can’t make choices and decisions for others. Keep showing up, keep speaking words of encouragement, keep modeling. “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
I hope this breathes freedom into your life and leadership!