The phrase, “it’s not my job” has gotten a pretty bad rap. It seems to have become synonymous with shirkers or blame-shifters who use the phrase to excuse their own laziness or incompetence. Lately, however, I’ve been using it a lot in my own head to redraw boundary lines around what I can and should be held accountable for. I’m a classic over-achiever/perfectionist with a sense of responsibility so strong it has become a hindrance rather than a strength. I often have a hard time delegating important tasks and allowing others to have time in the spotlight, not so much from a desire to always be IN the spotlight, as from a desire for others not to screw it up while they’re there. (Because, after all, I’m probably better at it anyway)
I’ve been thinking about this sense or responsibility and my desire for correct boundaries in my life for quite a while. When faced with a daunting task or an important leadership role, this strong sense of responsibility is an asset to me. However, it has become one of the biggest stumbling blocks in my personal relationships and at times the way I view conflict in ministry. In an effort to take responsibility for, and fix, problems, I take on more of the burden than is truly mine to bear. That last sentence makes me sound rather self-sacrificing, but it truly is just another way I have tried to control my environment to fit my perfectionist outlook. It has made it very difficult for me to forgive others who have hurt me, to rightly understand others’ point of view, and to take on hurt where none was intended.
Recently, I read this about forgiveness in Drs. Cloud and Townsend’s book, “Boundaries”: “To forgive someone means to let him off the hook, or to cancel a debt he owes you. When you refuse to forgive someone, you still want something from that person, and even if it is revenge that you want, it keeps you tied to him forever.” I realized that while I understood at some level that forgiveness was more about my attitude than the person I needed to forgive, that I was still withholding forgiveness until I got something back from that person, keeping me tied to them (and to the hurt) with no end in sight. What I want before I offer forgiveness is confession – the acknowledgement that they were wrong and that they know I am hurt. Here’s where that phrase from above comes in. THAT’S NOT MY JOB! It’s NOT MY JOB to convict a person’s heart so they turn towards me with repentance. It’s NOT MY JOB to await confession so I can absolve a person of their sin. Not only is it NOT my job, it’s not even in my power. The only person who has this power is Jesus, who freely extended his grace and forgiveness to me way before I asked for it and is even now working in my heart and every other person’s heart to soften it towards confession, repentance, and forgiveness.
In the next paragraph of the Boundaries book, the authors say: “It is much better to receive grace from God, who has something to give, and to forgive those who have no money to pay their debt with. This ends your suffering, because it ends the wish for repayment that is never forthcoming and that makes your heart sick because your hope is deferred (Prov. 13:12)”
Until writing this out, I didn’t see how big my presumption and pride was. This, here, is my job – to let go of the pride of perfectionism, to drop the armor of control, to seek only after the good already laid out in advance for me.
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33