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Boundaries of Responsibility

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“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” ~ Romans 12:18

The Apostle Paul shares a great truth about responsibility in this great verse about reconciliation. There is a place where our responsibility begins and there’s a point at which it ends. God does not hold us responsible for that over which we have no control. We can’t control that person who is alienated from us. But we can control the reality that we are at peace with him or her.

A Christian psychologist wrote that if our serenity depends on what our adolescent children are going to do, or not do, our serenity is very fragile. We experience a great deal of emotional pain because we do not accept the boundaries of our responsibilities.

A former mentor of mine said: “You cannot control the weather or rainy days but you can control the emotional climate that surrounds you. You cannot control the height that your head will be from the sidewalk but you can control the height of the contents of your head.” After sharing several more examples of this, he continued, “Why worry about the things you cannot control? Accept responsibility for the things that do depend on you.”

Your responsibility begins with what you can control; you are at peace with all the people in your life. Your responsibility ends with what you cannot control – like whether or not they are at peace with you. You will have more personal peace when you accept that responsibility boundary.

Adapted from Boundaries of Responsibility by Dick Woodward.

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