Blame ---> Responsibility ---> Efficacy

NOTE: This is the second article in a three-article series.

Blame = to consider somebody to be responsible for something wrong or unfortunate, exaggerating their contribution to the issue at hand while minimizing our own.

Responsibility = acknowledging our contribution to the issue at hand, accepting the reality that we are participants in the outcomes.

Last article described the corrosive effects of blame. Certainly we don’t want to stop there after realizing we inadvertently slipped down the blame’s slippery slope. There are two more stops on the journey out of blame, the next being responsibility. Still there is a third, an even more actionable and helpful stop, yet we can’t arrive there without first engaging responsibility.

I have a very good friend who’s been in recovery for years now. Still he attends meetings and works his personal recovery program. Though he’s scarred from his journey, much of his pain has ripened into wisdom. Once while we were discussing conflict in his church along with efforts to resolve the interpersonal angst involved therein, he made this statement. “In every conflict, whoever is involved, is at least 30% at fault.” I don’t know how he arrived at this percentage, yet ever since I’ve recognized his insight as wisdom. When it comes to unfulfilled expectations for our congregation, all of us are culpable. The magic bullet approach to problem solving doesn’t work. It’s not the fault of only the pastor, or only the lay leadership, or only the other staff persons, or only the congregation, or even of only the increasingly secular culture around us. All of us are contributors to the results we are experiencing.

I’m remembering one church who stepped way out of their comfort zone, trying a holy experiment with their staffing model. They dreamed of a new approach, far outside their denomination’s norm, implementing the change with great excitement and eagerness. Though this new staffing paradigm served them well 4 or 5 years, the last couple years it did not, ending in conflict. We only came in contact with them during their debriefing stage, finding it fascinating. Through honest discussion they were able to move toward acknowledging everyone held part of the problem. Even those who simply did nothing when problem cues arose were part of the ensuing difficulty.

So, whatever your church is currently experiencing is the outcome of the collective and collaborative efforts of your entire church. Congregations, lay leaders, church staff, and pastors who recognize they are all part of the system, all responsible, tend to practice the following mindsets:
• Under the Lordship of Christ, we are in charge of us
• Whatever our congregation is experiencing is the expression of our collective faith journey
• We are not victims of culture, postmodernism, political change, nor anything else
• Through embracing responsibility we will open the door to proactive progress in mission and ministry

Taking responsibility is not the ultimate stop on this journey toward living as robust churches. Yet the responsibility stop on this Christ-following journey is necessary in order to move into proactive ways of being and doing church. And for those who follow Jesus Christ, with no reason to be afraid, we will take responsibility for our part of God’s kingdom’s actualization. May we be strong and of good courage, like our spiritual kin before us.

Mark Tidsworth
Pinnacle Leadership Associates