IS YOUR SENSE OF DUTY TOO EXTREME?
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (KJV) …Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
One day, in prayer, I began to feel convicted about my “sense of duty.” Up until then, I considered my responsible attitude and my ability to meet people’s expectations to be a positive trait. In reality, I was extremely driven to meet everyone’s demands. I was tormented with guilt when I fell short of anyone’s request. As I meditated on the thought that a sense of duty might be a negative rather than a positive trait, I realized that I was putting the demands of people and projects ahead of my private devotions and my family. The light came on! I realized that my “sense of duty” was out of control. With God’s help and my husband’s support, I began to evaluate my use of time and commitment to those I served.
Responsibility is a good thing, right? I agree that it is good as long as it doesn’t cause feelings of guilt, condemnation, and hopelessness. Manipulators easily abuse those who desire to do right. They often ask those with a servant’s heart to go the “extra mile”. Guilt (or praise) is used to encourage the worker to give more of their time and service than what is appropriate.
I recently read an article by Bill Puka (2005) in which he compared the word “responsibility” to the term “response-ability.” He defined responsibility as “a felt requirement, a debt owed, usually a burdensome duty …” In contrast, he defined response-ability as “the ability to respond to others …[which] focuses us on our own worth and the value of our talents or potentials.” Response-ability teaches us to be responsible for ourselves, our personal integrity, and the freedom and the ability to choose to do the right thing for everyone involved. Response-ability encourages the empowerment of the individual rather than forcing a mandated subservient response.
This week I would like to invited you to give this some thought as you teach. You have the ability to respond correctly—not just the duty to do it. You will find greater joy in serving when you choose your actions based on your freedom to choose. This is also a concept you can teach your students. We all need more response-ability. Knowing we have the ability to respond correctly in difficult situations will help to build self-control and self-worth in all of us.
Dear God, Allow me to understand my response-ability regarding my “sense of duty.” Help me to see the freedom and peace in understanding the strength and wisdom that your Spirit gives me to choose the best areas of service. Bring balance to my life so that I might run the race set before me without burning out before I reach the finish line.
Puka, B. (2005). Teaching Ethical Excellence: Artful Response-Ability, Creative Integrity, Character Opus. Liberal Education, 91(3), 22+. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5011979265
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Copyright © 2002-2013 by Elderine Wyrick
Polishing the Apple
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Wyrick, Elderine (2002-2013). "Article/Devotion Title" in Polishing the Apple, www.teacherdevotion.com.
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