Personal Responsibility

Posted on 01/21/2018 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***

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by Edward Mote

My hope is built on nothing less
 than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
 but wholly lean on Jesus' name

On Christ the solid Rock I stand
 all other ground is sinking sand
 all other ground is sinking sand

When darkness veils His lovely face
 I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
 My anchor holds within the veil

On Christ the solid Rock I stand
 all other ground is sinking sand
 all other ground is sinking sand

When He shall come with trumpet sound
 Oh, may I then in Him be found
Clothed in His righteousness alone
 Faultless to stand before the throne!

On Christ the solid Rock I stand
 all other ground is sinking sand
 all other ground is sinking sand

by Benjamin R. Faust

Lord, You've been so good to me
 You gave me sight when I was blind
You showed me light I could not see
 You brought me truth I could not find

Lord, You've been so good to me
 You paid a debt I could not pay
You turned my darkest night to day
 Lord You've been so good to me!

And so I praise You in the morning
 and I praise You in the night
For You are my Salvation
 You are my Guiding Light

So I give You my everything
 I just can't give You less
When You sent Your Son to love me
 You gave me Your best!

Lord, You've been so good to me
 You set my feet on solid ground
You rescued my life from the grave
 when no other help could be found

Lord, You've been so good to me
 and I could never repay
All the love You gave so freely
 Lord, You've been so good to me!


Lord You've been so good to me
Lord You've been so good to me (better than I deserve)

Lord You've been so good to me
 You paid a debt I could not pay
You turned my darkest night to day
 Lord You've been so good to me

Lord You've been so good to me
Lord You've been so good to me
(you're good all the time)

Lord You've been so good to me
 and I could never repay
All the love You gave so freely
 Lord You've been so good to me


You gave me Your best!
You gave me Your best!
Lord, You've been so good to me.

by Benjamin R. Faust

You are my life
You are my strength
You are my song, Jesus

You are my heart
You are my soul
I want the whole world to know

That You are everything to me
And for all eternity
I will sing Your praises

I give You my life
I give You my strength
I give You my song, Jesus

I give You my heart
I give You my soul
For You have made me whole!

*** Choose your connection speed and listen to the audio to hear the introduction. ***

Today, I’d like for us to talk about a subject that might not be the most popular, at least not in practice. It’s not the most entertaining, not the most fun.

Most people don’t research the subject on their smartphones during their lunch breaks, or watch movies about it when they’re relaxing at home.

It doesn’t lend itself well to tickling the ears or making one feel good about themselves.

And that subject is: Personal Responsibility.

From Wikipedia:

“Personal responsibility or Individual Responsibility is the idea that human beings choose, instigate, or otherwise cause their own actions. A corollary idea is that because we cause our actions, we can be held morally accountable or legally liable. Personal responsibility can be contrasted to the idea that human actions are caused by conditions beyond the agent's control.”

So personal responsibility is the idea that we choose, instigate, or otherwise cause our own actions, and our actions are not caused by conditions beyond our control.

I’m sure you’ve heard the statement, “the devil made me do it.” Or in a workplace, an employee might respond to a question asking what they can do to improve the customers’ impression of the employee’s service by saying the computers need to be updated (and that example is from first-hand real-life experience).

When we fall short, where do we place the blame? “I was raised badly.” “So-and-so pushed my buttons.” And so-on.

Blaming others for our actions or lack of actions is something we’ve probably all done, and, in society, it is common practice.

But what are the effects of this passing of blame? Well first of all, if our actions are the fault of something outside of ourselves, then, unless we change those external factors, we are powerless to change ourselves. And let’s face it, we frequently cannot change things on the outside.

We generally cannot single-handedly change society, which means changing the vast majority of individuals.

And we often cannot change a single individual in an effort to change ourselves.

Here’s a slightly different example:

“How are you?”

“Well, I’m at work. I’ll be doing much better at quitting time.”

Perhaps your experience in the workforce has been incredibly unusual, and your fellow employees are happy to be there doing what they’re doing. But that is sadly the rare exception rather than the rule.

“I’m here because I HAVE to be here.” And thus, they are not happy about it. Their need to earn a living is something that is probably out of their control, so by blaming their own inner actions on that external reality, they become powerless to change their attitude and, thus, their experience of Life in that moment.

And that is why today’s topic is so important, for taking personal responsibility for your inner state is the only way you can stop being controlled.

In the popular state of mind, we are the slaves of other people and events. We are imprisoned by bars that are generally unyielding to our will, and thus are impossible to escape.

But today, I would like for us to consider, for just a few moments, the insanity of that perspective, as we consider how we can finally set ourselves free.

Here are three points taken from an article written by Steve Brunkhorst titled “12 Reflections on Personal Responsibility.” The link to his article is in today’s notecard.

“Personal responsibility begins from the inside and moves outward. We must begin by taking responsibility for our thoughts, choices, and reactions. Then we can be responsible for the circumstances we create in our world.”

“When you think something or someone else is responsible for your problems and their solutions, that exact thought is the first problem to solve.”

“A great philosophy of responsibility: When things are working, I am responsible... and when they need fixing, I am responsible.”

So first he suggest that personal responsibility begins with taking responsibility for our thoughts, choices, and reactions, and that this inner shift will result in what we say and do.

In Matthew 23:26, Jesus says that we should clean the inside, then the outside will be clean also. In other words, all of our words and outer actions come from the inside. So trying to change what we do and say is an exercise in futility and is doomed to fail. Instead, we should change the INSIDE, and then the rest will change automatically as a direct result.

Does that make sense?

And we can go even closer to the source. After all, dealing with our thoughts from the level of our thoughts is a daunting task to say the least. And here’s what I mean by that:

Our thoughts, or more accurately, our MIND’S thoughts, hold such power over us only because our sense of identity is in the producer of those thoughts.

We call them OUR thoughts, as though we are directly producing that endless prattle of words over which we seem to have no control. But does that really make sense? After all, if we DID produce all of our thoughts, then we would have COMPLETE control over them.

Here’s an example to help make that more clear:

Imagine that you have an involuntary twitch in your arm. It keeps jerking, and you have no control over it. Now imagine that you reach for a glass, and your arm jerks and knocks the glass onto the floor, where it promptly shatters into hundreds of pieces.

Would you think that you are creating that twitch? Or that the jerking is being caused by something outside of who or what you are?

In the same way, the vast majority of the thoughts that go through your head are not created by you, any more than the jerking movements of your arm.

Instead, it is the human mind that runs on its programming and generates the constant babble in your head.

You are not your mind. And if you remember that, it will change your life.

Imagine that you are the caretaker of a mentally disturbed person. You are always together. And that person constantly mumbles, often saying things that are inappropriate or out of touch with reality.

“I don’t like that person,” he says, “so the only right thing to do is to start yelling at them.”

Do you do what he says? Or do you realize that he is not mentally stable, and he is certainly not you, and you just let his words pass by?

On the other hand, if you somehow forgot that you are not him, and as a result you got lost in his words and starting taking them seriously, you just might start yelling at the person he said he didn’t like.

Well, that’s exactly what we tend to do. We forget that we are not our mind and our mind is not us, and as a result we get lost in its words and start taking our thoughts seriously.

We even take its thoughts as settled fact. That might be in the form of religious doctrines, beliefs about a person’s motivations, or negative attitudes about things we cannot control such as having to work for a living, or the weather.

But when we step back and realize we are NOT the mind, and we are NOT the mind-made person who has a history, is a parent, a spouse, or a victim, and has a name, an age, and is an ego; THEN we can stop being controlled by that mind. We can stop believing everything it says. We can stop letting our perspectives, our attitudes, our words, and our actions be dictated by its volition.

It is a place of silence, of stillness, of unshakable peace.

Until now, the mind has probably steered your life, your actions, your attitudes, your reactions, your interactions, your relationships, and your entire perception of reality and of Life.

But today, in this Present Moment, you can step back, accept what is, and be free.

By “step back,” I mean that you stop identifying with the mind and all the things it generates.

By “accept what is,” I mean that you do not fight against the mind, its thoughts, and what is going on around you -- your physical feelings, the sounds, the sights -- they are what they are, and you allow them to be without placing labels or judgment.

And by “be free,” I mean you are no longer controlled by the self-centered, confused, egotistical, prideful, victimized, mistreated, relatively infantile mind and its myriad thoughts and ideas.

And as a result, the mind begins to change automatically, just like Jesus’ imagery of the outside of the cup becoming clean.

The inside of YOUR cup is the Breath of God you are. You can feel this Breath as a tangible experience -- the feeling of energy in your hands, your arms, and your whole body. That is the inside of the cup. And around that inside, that center, is the rest of the cup.

The mind is like the inside of the cup, and includes the mind’s thoughts, reactions, attitudes, and the Bob or Lisa or Jennifer or Larry or -- fill in your name here -- that you have always thought you are.

And the outside of the cup is your words and your actions.

Do you want the inside to be clean so the outside can be clean as well? If you are identified with the inside of the cup -- the mind and the mind-made person -- then the task of cleaning is daunting and ultimately impossible.

But if you step back and see those things as separate, as temporary, and as just the way they are, and you let them be that way, then the Presence you are and the Presence of God within you will be free to change the inside of the cup from glory to glory into His Perfect Image.

After all, if you are identified with the mind and the person it has created, you will get caught up in the mind’s fighting change. After all, change, especially self-change, is frightening to the mind. If the person it thinks you are needs to have parts of it dissolved, that feels like a threat. And the dissolution feels like death.

But if you are dwelling in Presence, and are simply observing the mind and its person, then any amount of change that needs to take place is okay. In fact, if that person needed to be completely rewritten as someone else entirely, that would be okay as well.

The mind blames forces outside of itself for its own attitudes, experiences, thoughts, words, and actions.

But the Presence you are takes personal responsibility -- or, put another way, without force or will power or struggling and striving, the Presence you are effortlessly changes everything around it as you rest in that Presence, as you rest in the Presence of God, and as you and He observe the changes taking place without being attached to the outcome.

For while the outcome, the future, is a mere idea held by the mind, the eternal Present Moment is where you dwell with the Spirit of God, and it is perfect -- flawless -- and complete.

So let’s step into that place of Presence right now, and make that Presence our everlasting home.