I work with addicts and alcoholics. When they “fail,” I tend to take it personally. I somehow make their choices “my failure.” As long as that is true, I will struggle any time a person is anywhere near a using point. My struggle will communicate to them a lack of faith in them and in their ability to get better. I send that message whether I mean for it to be sent or not.
Taking credit. It is huge. I tend to take more credit for successes of others than I deserve. I tend to take more credit for their failures than I deserve. I’m a “loadbearer,” one who takes on the struggles of others at a high level. In my head, I would say that I take more credit for failures than for success, but if I’m really honest, the failures bother me because I think I have the power to make a difference in the lives of others. I’d say that’s taking credit for the successes of others.
Over the years of working with addicts, that is one of the biggest changes in me. Early on, anyone’s failure was a major crisis for me. The more time and energy I had spent with that person, the more I owned the failure. In some cases, that meant little or no sleep for a period of days.
Today, I have a much more muted reaction. Because I don’t care as much? Because I have become jaded? I hope not! If that is true, I need to get out of the business of working with addicts! The big difference is that I realize just how little impact I have on the decisions of others. Not only that, the more I take ownership where I don’t have the ability to bring change, the more I communicate that uptight response that helps create failure. In that case, credit is due to me … but not good credit.
If I am to be a godly influencer, one of the best things I can do is to understand how little I can do to produce a specific response in others. In other words, when it goes well, I really can’t take the credit. When it goes badly, I can’t take the credit. But that’s what we do. We tend to own the responses of others. We depend on the responses of others to define where we are in life.
There is a way that the responses of others is significant. The Bible calls it fruit. When we do what God asks in the way God asks, it produces fruit. It has outcomes. When I genuinely love and accept people for who they are and be the godly influencer that God has called me to be, it has impact. (Much less than I generally think it should have … but it has impact!) That impact is called fruit. Our life produces good outcomes.
The responses of people in general can tell us if we are healthy or if we are unhealthy. But not always. Entire communities of people can be sick spiritually—meaning that every single person might have a negative response to a person who is living godly. Most of the prophets were persecuted and some even killed. Why? Because they spoke what God wanted them to speak to people who didn’t want to hear what God had to say.
God comes to those who are hungry and humble. If we are doing God’s work, there should be individuals who are open to God who will receive and who will grow. And there will be many who reject what we are bringing. The more we take it personally, the more we will be shut down from doing what God wants in a way that is effective.
So how do I know if I am in a healthy place? The responses of people in general is usually a good test, but not always. Are there people in your world who genuinely have the humility of God, but still have the boldness to speak truth to you? Ask those people for feedback. They are gold!
Beyond that, stop taking credit as much as possible. I’ve had to do that to survive working with addicts. I am. I bring the best I know to bring. When I am wrong, I admit it. I hope to learn something. I get back up and I try again. I do my best to put away ego. I try to rid myself of the illusion that I am going to save the world. I pray. I seek God. I respond according to what I believe He is leading me to do. I go to bed at night and sleep … a much better sleep than when I took credit for the actions of others at a much higher level.
All I can do is be me in partnership with God. When I learn to rest in being me, it is a very good thing. It communicates a love and acceptance to others that is powerful. Ironically, it sends a message of “I value you to others” much more than when I think I can save them.
Are you taking credit … good or bad ... for the actions of others?