Taking Responsibility and Being Accountable
“Each of us must take responsibility for doing the creative best we can with our own life.”
I love the movie, Pursuit of Happyness. It reminds me about taking personal responsibility for my life. Sometimes I am good at it and sometimes not as good as I would like. Movies like this remind me of how I should be and what I ought to do.
If you aren’t familiar with the movie, it is a true story about a single father who has to care for a two-year-old boy without money or a job. For one year, Chris Gardner struggled mightily. He was an unpaid intern for a large brokerage firm, pursuing his life’s dream of becoming a stockbroker. He was forced into homelessness because of a bad business deal he had made. His wife left him and their son. While some of his problems were of his own making, many were not.
He never gave in to feeling sorry for himself
He accepted his lot and worked hard to correct his life. While at his internship he acquired many new customers for his firm. His personal style of friendly collegiality was critical to new customers. They knew they could trust Chris. While trouble swirled around him for that difficult year, he kept an attitude of taking responsibility for himself—no excuses or self-pity, just hard work.
Fast-forwarding to today, Chris is wealthy and gives graciously of his time and money. He did land a job with the brokerage firm where he served as an intern. He became the first African American to start a large brokerage firm, selling it twenty-five years later for a large amount of money. Today, he speaks around the country about faith and accepting personal responsibility. Not from the eyes of someone who hasn’t been there, but from the dark moments of his early life.
I am fortunate to know other people in similar situations.
Not necessarily as dire as Chris’s, but tough. Like Rich, who created his own mess and fixed his problem. Or Bill, who keeps helping the world when it doesn’t always help him back.
I marvel at these people. Life hasn’t always been fair to them, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t fair back. They quietly accept that it is their problem to fix. You help them when they are down, and they take your help with grace, then pay you back many times over. Not with words, but with deeds.
One man whom I know well hit hard times.
His son had just died, and his wife had left him. On top of that, he had been let go from his job. He was also an alcoholic. In a matter of a year, he went from having a good life to one of trouble. Like Chris, he didn’t make excuses. He knew he’d screwed up and checked himself into rehab, spending eight months away from his life in a place far from home.
He is in recovery today and has been for a few years. He’s since started his own business, which is thriving. I had loaned him a small amount of money to get started and helped him think about how to run his new business. He paid me back on time. He fixed his problem and moved forward.
Today’s verse, written by the apostle Paul, describes who is responsible for our lives. It is us. Some will have big problems and some small. But ultimately it is our life to lead, and our problems are ours to solve.
There are three sources of help—God, our neighbor, and ourselves. Some will see God as more than just a “genie” and will work with God. This is the way God works. God helps those who help themselves.
All of what God does is done with love. Enabling isn’t something God will do. Sometimes love is not giving what shouldn’t be given.
It is the same with friends—only we can create the action our friends suggest. Only we can stop the behavior that got us in trouble in the first place. We have to be standing beside our friends and shoveling our way out of our ditches.
Otherwise, we wear people out.
When we only have our hand out, our friends grow weary trying to find a way to get us to see that we hold the solution. Eventually, they may tire and move on.
People like helping people those who work with them. This is the greatness I see in humanity. People love helping people who creatively, and with ingenuity, work their way out of problems. Those that act get more.
We all have come upon desperation or tough times. Times we have to be creative and work hard. If we haven’t, we are way past due. Our character is improved and strengthened when we fight back against tough times.
What I have observed about successful people is that they take responsibility and are accountable in all things. They do what they ought to do, not what they want to do. They see failures as chances to learn and grow.
I love the movie, Pursuit of Happyness because it reminds me of I what I ought to do. Or as the Apostle Paul says in the book of Romans, “Each of us must take responsibility for doing the creative best we can with our own life.”
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman
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