“Here… try this plum wine. It’s the best and it’s only made at this winery. I know you’ll love it!”
“Excuse me lady, but I’ll have to ask you to step out from behind the counter.”
“Oh! I was just getting them started since you weren’t here. I wanted to be sure they tasted the plum wine.“
“I understand. But it’s not your job. It’s mine.”
The owner of the small, family winery was kindly persistent in insisting my mother-in-law was taking on a responsibility that wasn’t hers to assume. To this day we all have a good chuckle at her expense when we relive that awkward moment.
My husband’s mom has a feeling of being responsible for the enjoyment of others, especially if it’s her suggestion. Now this goes beyond just being a good hostess. She says, “I KNOW you’re going to love this,” when she plans an outing. She announces, “Isn’t this just delicious?” if it’s a new recipe she’s tried or a special treat she bought at her favorite bakery. And if we’re not equally enthusiastic, she’s heartbroken. Why don’t we like it? What’s the matter with us!
“That’s not my job!” is often heard when someone doesn’t want to accept responsibility. They don’t want to be held accountable, to be the one who is expected to answer if something goes wrong. At other times this can mean, “I don’t want to do it.” “I don’t get paid for doing that (and if I do it, you’ll have to pay me).”
It also can be an excuse: “I’m not competent enough to do it.” Or more likely it’s really, “I don’t want the responsibility, the blame, the job, the burden.”
But sometimes it’s an evasion of a responsibility that is really and truly ours. Especially when it comes to our witness.
Maybe we’re hesitant because we’re afraid of the results. We don’t want to be blamed when someone rejects our story, our offer of God’s love and forgiveness. We’re crestfallen when someone gives a “Who cares?” to our joy-filled message. I know my heart hurts when that happens.
I’m like my mother-in-law when it comes to sharing my Savior. “I just KNOW you’ll love Him as much as I do! Isn’t He just the greatest?” And I’m dejected when others don’t agree. I feel responsible for their reaction. Is it something I said? Something I did?
And then I read the accusing, misinformed things others write and say about my Lord, and I wonder how I can change their minds. That’s when the responsibility I feel becomes a burden... one I can’t manage or carry.
But it’s not my responsibility really. I can’t change hearts. I can’t believe for someone else.
That would be like the time my son Jacob was doing the throw-in at his soccer game and then hearing his coach yell, “Get that ball, Jacob!” as if he was responsible for receiving it too. It was a laughable moment in that game long ago, but it’s a good reminder to me. I can only use my best effort to get the message of His love thrown into people’s lives. I can’t be the one to catch it for them too. That’s the job of the Spirit… to work in their lives… to soften hard hearts.
But I can pray for them. And I do, even when someone says to me, “And you don’t have to pray for me. I don’t want your prayers!” Because that’s something they aren’t responsible for, something they don’t have control over.
Responsibilities are overwhelming at times. It’s a fact of life. But thank goodness the big job isn’t my responsibility.
My eternal life, my salvation, is in Someone else’s hands. Someone who is truly responsible… trustworthy, dependable, reliable. My Lord Jesus answered the legal challenge that said the wages of sin was death. He became the responsible party and signed His name in my place.
He assures me each day, “That was my job, not yours. I took the responsibility. I was competent enough, and, by the way, you didn’t have to pay me to do it either… because you couldn’t.”
And His most comforting words of all reach deep into my soul… “This was something I really wanted to do… for you!”