I sat in the auditorium next to the guests I’d invited to join me for this special event. While engrossed in the beautiful music, it dawned on me: Joan, you’re enjoying this concert for the sheer pleasure of it, without being preoccupied with your guests’ thoughts, feelings or reactions. I smiled then and I’m smiling now as I remember.
For years, an overzealous sense of responsibility overshadowed my personal enjoyment. When I invited another person to attend a church service, concert or even a luncheon, I felt duty-bound to see that she enjoyed the time and gained new insight. Now I realize that I’m not responsible for someone else’s perceptions, attitudes or knowledge.
Through my years of life coaching and speaking, I’ve noticed an epidemic of over-helping. Those of us who want to join God in His work sometimes live by a false premise that we must fix what’s broken, heal what hurts and right what’s wrong (in our opinion). This over-active sense of responsibility can lead us to believe that we’re more powerful than we really are. It’s exhausting.
God is the Almighty One, and He wants to release us from this unnecessary responsibility. He is the one in charge of the world, not us. When we give Him our shoulds, musts and ought-tos, we begin to live in genuine freedom. You and I are not responsible for anyone else’s life fulfillment. Only our own. What uncomplicated delight!
Yesterday a coaching client emailed me to let me know that she had just read the above devotional in my book, It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life. She wrote, “It hit the nail on the head with what I often feel with others.” Then she explained that she’s excited about letting go of the responsibility that isn’t hers.
What about you? What unreasonable I should or I must belief has worn you out and threatened to keep you from experiencing your own satisfaction or pleasure? I’d love to hear from you.
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.