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Response-Ability, Avoiding the Victim Mindset


One of the top life-changing disciplines that I worked into my life is that I can choose my response to a situation 100% of the time. Yes, every single time. I had a false belief that my circumstances determined my reaction and feelings. Most of us tend to pick up little false beliefs here and there throughout life and ministry.

False Beliefs help us Cope. 

These false beliefs help us cope with situations and make us feel better but usually keep us trapped in what we think is a comfortable and safe space. One false belief many Christian leaders and pastors hold onto is that we are where we are because of our circumstances. In other words, we have given up our ability to respond to some degree.

For example, we may tell ourselves and others that our ministry is not where it should be because of a particular circumstance or person. It would be effortless to claim that the economy, government regulations, the COVID-19 crisis, or any other events are the blame for where we find ourselves.

Theology, if not careful, excuses Responsibility.

 If we are not careful, we rule out our ability to respond to the circumstances. Sometimes we allow our theology of God’s Sovereignty to be an excuse for our responsibility to respond to a situation and take ownership. Of course, others like to blame the devil or others. 

In his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People,” David Covey tells us there is a space between stimulus and response. Stimulus or our circumstances do not force us or make us respond a certain way. We can control our reactions and choose to do so in a thoughtful, positive, Christ-centered way. We can make these choices for leading ourselves and leading our ministries.

One of the great definitions of manhood is found in the book “Raising Modern Day Knights.” They define manhood as the ability to 

“reject passivity, take responsibility, lead courageously, and expect the greater reward.” 

This definition is an excellent challenge for church leaders. We must take responsibility and be proactive with our attitudes and actions in our personal lives and ministries. Some of this plays into the more recent topic these days on emotional intelligence. Too often, we react based on the mood of our emotions or the conditions surrounding us. We believe our actions and mindset are based on our genetics, education, upbringing, or other external factors. As Christian leaders, we must begin to take full responsibility for our mindset, attitudes, emotions, and actions.

Focus on What You Can Control

To be more proactive with our response to what is happening around us, we need to focus on the words we use, our feelings, and the things we can control. We need to throw out phrases like “there is nothing I can do,”It won’t work,” or “that’s just the way I am.” We must recognize our feelings don’t control us, but we can manage them. We must choose again and again to master them, or they will master us. 

Sometimes this means stopping the negative self-talk, and sometimes it means creating boundaries so that others don’t have constant access to us with these false beliefs. Of course, there are things that we honestly can’t control, things that are beyond our circle of influence, but we can always control our response to those things. Before we chalk this idea up to modern-day pop psychology, consider the passages at those ends and their explicit instruction to reject passivity and control our ability to respond.

If I can help you understand or implement this life-changing discipline or the other three life-changing disciplines we cover in our Leading Self-coaching sessions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Your Brother in the Battle,

Ryan Flanders

Ephesians 6:14-17

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God

1 Corinthians 10:31

13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Ephesians 4:22-23

22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind

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