This weekend I am musing about responsibility—actually the lack thereof! It’s a topic this is nothing knew but I fell into such a “bucket of irresponsibility” with Verizon that I just had to speak about this issue that divides, derides, and destroys human integrity.
To make a very long story short, I wound up sending over 135 emails to the CEO of Verizon which caught his admin’s eye and I had quite the conversation with this man. The outcome was good but what he said reminded me of our problem of responsibility when he said “It is so hard to find anyone to take a job let alone get one that has personal responsibility.” I know you aren’t surprised with that but I liked his honesty.
Recently, author John G. Miller wrote a book called The Question Behind the Question, where he discusses the epidemic of shunning personal responsibility that’s so prevalent among people today. His argument is that we’d be much more fulfilled in life if we’d simply take responsibility when we’re supposed to. Miller is a man of faith and it was that faith that took him from the boardroom to being an author. After years of helping huge corporations with “personal responsibilities” for them and their co-workers, he realized the problem we have in our society about taking responsibility. I share a story with his permission:
Some years ago, a former American astronaut took over as head of a major airline. He was determined to make the airline’s service the best in the industry. One day, as the new president walked through a particular department, he saw an employee resting his feet on a desk while the telephone on the desk rang incessantly. “Aren’t you going to answer that phone?” the boss demanded. “No, sir. This isn’t my department,” answered the employee nonchalantly, apparently not recognizing his new boss. “I work in maintenance, period!” The president quickly replied, “Not anymore you don’t!”
The lack of personal responsibility is not a new concept. The Bible is filled with all kinds of people who, like the story below from Acts 4:35-37 & 5:1-4, abdicated their responsibilities:
“And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need. Joseph, called by the apostles “Barnabas” (which means “Son of Comfort”), a Levite born in Cyprus, sold a field that he owned, brought the money, and made an offering of it to the apostles. But a man named Ananias—his wife, Sapphira, conniving in this with him—sold a piece of land, secretly kept part of the price for himself, and then brought the rest to the apostles and made an offering of it.
Peter said, “Ananias, how did Satan get you to lie to the Holy Spirit and secretly keep back part of the price of the field? Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours to do with as you wished. So what got into you to pull a trick like this? You didn’t lie to men but to God.”
Ananias and Sapphira exchanged their faith for greed thinking no one would find them out. Don’t you love Peter’s question “What got into you to pull a trick like this?” It is so easy to be enticed by things out of our reach. We’re tired of “being on the bottom—the unseen person” who never gets the promotion, the lottery winnings, etc. Like the worker at the airline, we begin to not care about anyone else but ourselves and the longer we think and live this lie, the more we give up responsible living.
We absolutely cannot end this devotion without sharing what happened to Ananias and Sapphira—it didn’t end well. After Peter caught Ananias in his lie, Ananias stood up then fell down dead! About 3 hours later Peter talked to Sapphira and she, like her husband, lied about the money. When Peter told her of Ananias’ death, she stood up and fell over dead! Did this impact the people—indeed it did. Verse 11 says “By this time the whole church and, in fact, everyone who heard of these things had a healthy respect for God. They knew God was not to be trifled with.”
God does not take our sins lightly and neither should we. God has equipped us for all that we need in life and expects us to be responsible for what God has given us. We can’t hang-up the phone on God because God will continue to pursue our hearts to live upright lives and be the Ambassadors of the Gospel. This means we never take responsibility lightly. If we do, we better be concerned of the consequences; like Ananias and Sapphira, we can fall and never get up, AMEN.