One of the key theological patterns in the book of Acts, I find, is that of repentance preceding the receipt of the Spirit which precedes the revival of an individual’s soul.
Indeed, corporate revival relies on the same concept: repentance of the community that precedes the blessing of God’s Holy Spirit on that community which precedes a revival within the culture of the community. Revival relies on repentance.
But what is repentance other than taking responsibility? First and foremost, owning our personal sin.
In recent months I’ve come to learn much more about the patterns in abuse, as God continues to call and equip me to minister in that direction.
The hallmark difference between someone who could abuse versus someone who does abuse is the taking of responsibility. The perpetrator of the abuse avoids taking responsibility at every turn, and at every cost, and it is debatable whether they genuinely believe they cannot be responsible for abuse, or whether they intentionally subvert any accusations against them. The former is evidence of spiritual deception. The latter is evidence of sociopathy.
The well-rounded conscience receives negative feedback and weighs it for truth, even when it hurts, because negative feedback generally does hurt, and because negative feedback is generally meant well. But the damaged conscience, the seared conscience, has lost the capacity for introspection, or simply insists on not going there.
The simplest way of saying it is this: the most obvious indicator of an unsafe person is their incapacity for taking responsibility. If their default is to blame others for things they alone have control over, there is a big problem. If this attitude isn’t addressed, if there is no hope for repentance, it’s only a matter of time before they get themselves into trouble and others along with it.
Relationships fail for the lack of responsibility.
Unsafe people do not take responsibility.
Safe people, on the other hand, walk humbly with God, by being receptive to negative feedback.
I know there have been times when I’ve been weak, where I have been susceptible to resisting and at times refusing negative feedback, and it has always harmed me, others, and the relationships in view. Nothing good comes from one party or both refusing to take responsibility.
The key task of life is to discern well what we are responsible for, and to take that responsibility.
Taking responsibility is God’s decree for our lives, because relationship is the imperative of our lives.
Sometimes we can take too much responsibility, and provided we don’t ‘enable’ an unsafe person we’re in relationship with (who does not take their responsibility well), it generally doesn’t cause much harm, and it is generally very good for us, because God sees the humility in a person living for peace and blesses them for loving others.
But taking too much responsibility when the unsafe person cannot or will not take theirs just propagates the pattern of co-dependence and abuse. The pattern begs to be broken.
Repentance, we should know, is not a once-in-a-lifetime event. Neither is salvation, because there is a fruit attached. The sign we are saved in the Kingdom of God is the fruit we bear. There must be signs of ongoing repentance and fruitfulness.
There must be signs of an ongoing ability to respond well in our lives.
And the blessing we receive in taking responsibility is we take control of everything we can control, and we surrender control for everything that is beyond our control. And that is wisdom.