Have you ever dealt with someone who will not take responsibility?

No matter what happens, someone else is always to blame.

They have a deep sense of injustice over the way life is unfolding for them.

They feel unfairly treated in every area of life: work, school, relationships, sport, family, etc.

They’re not prepared to work particularly hard in any of these areas, and yet expect to have the best job, the best results, the best friendships, the best scores, etc.

The core belief is “I deserve better.”

How do you deal with this? How would you help this person?

I want to change their core belief to, “I get what I deserve.” I feel this would make them take responsibility and stop blaming everyone else when things don’t work out.

“If I don’t get a job, it’s because I didn’t look hard enough. If I fail my exam, it’s because I didn’t study hard enough. If I don’t have any friends, it’s because I’m not friendly to others. If I don’t win, it’s because I didn’t train hard enough, etc.”

I want to burn into their soul, “I get what I deserve. I get what I deserve. I get what I deserve.”

Because that’s generally how the world works. At times we might suffer a bit of unfairness, and at other times we might enjoy more success than we worked for. But, in general, hard work is rewarded and laziness is punished. We get what we deserve.

And yet. And yet. I hesitate. At least I hesitate to press this too hard.

Because I don’t want to undermine the principle and power of GRACE.

I want this person to be converted to Christ. I want them to embrace salvation by grace, I want them to enjoy the magnificent mercy of being saved despite what we deserve. I want them to experience the exhilarating exchange of “I got what Jesus deserved, and Jesus got what I deserved” (2 Cor. 5:21).

I want them to get the principle and power of GRACE in salvation more than anything else in the world.

Yet I also want them to get the principle and power of JUSTICE in vocation, education, etc.

How do I balance this? How do I prioritize? How do I avoid the “dangers” of grace? How do I avoid the dangers of justice? A life is passing, attitudes are hardening, habits are setting, worldview is engraining.

Can someone help me here?

  • Reg Schofield

    “But, in general, hard work is rewarded and laziness is punished. We get what we deserve.” I cannot agree with this statement . I could give example , after example of people stricken with sickness who ate well , took care of themselves and lost much , people who have been let go , by passed for promotions who have truly worked hard . Life is not fair and often the wicked prosper , those who are dishonest in business do really well , while others who try to do things by the book struggle . Even the Bible tells us when we look around we see the unrighteous prosper while those who trust in the Lord , struggle. But at the same time the riches that we possess that is not ours and we don’t deserve at all comes to us in Christ , upsets the apple cart . We then should work well and hard for His glory , no matter the outcome in this broken , sinful and evil world.

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      OK, I almost inserted the qualification more explicitly but figured it was too obvious already.

      I said, “That’s GENERALLY how the world works…” I said, “In GENERAL. hard work…”

      If you want it explicit. “There are of course exceptions.”

      Deuteronomy, Proverbs, the Psalms, the fifth commandment, etc all teach us that God IN GENERAL blesses hard work and punishes laziness.

      Job, some of the Psalms, and human experience tells us that there are exceptions. But IN GENERAL God has built this principle into the world.

      • Reg Schofield

        I agree that it is built into the world in a general sense but if we look at this world for fairness in many aspects of life we will be very disheartened . I realize I can only speak of my own experiences but that is why I have taught my son’s to ground their sense of hard work and effort as unto the Lord . That by focusing on Christ , and understanding that we don’t get what we deserve , but receive grace and mercy , I think when this life tanks or goes south it helps us keep things in perspective. Plus by looking at getting what we don’t deserve in Christ , it will stop us from becoming too cynical and harsh towards our fellow struggling pilgrims in this world. For the record , truly enjoy the blog and your writings on depression have really helped . Blessings .

        • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

          Thanks Reg. Both emphases needed.

  • Elizabeth

    Indeed what we receive from the Father in Christ Jesus is by grace alone. And when we receive that grace through the gift of faith we are then able to respond rightly to the person and work of Christ through belief and thus enter into all wonder and awe of the riches and blessings of Christ. Nothing of Christ may be enjoyed by everyone – only those who yield to His grace and believe. Upon having my eyes opened to Jesus, I did what was necessary and, what I was now enabled to do, I did: believed and received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. What those who are yet still of the world need to realize is this: the opportunity to have a ‘good’ life: education, careers, etc., etc., is grace in these here United States, but unless and until one yields to this truth and then does what is necessary none of the benefits of living in this wonderful country will be realized. As much as one may kick against these ‘goads’ it will not change this truth. Opportunity abounds in this country, but only those who have had their eyes opened to this truth will then be able to do what is necessary: apply oneself and take responsibility for one’s own actions, picking oneself up after failures or disappointments, and keep going.

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      Thanks Elizabeth

  • Dave

    I think the issue you are after has nothing to do with working hard, being diligent, etc. But, how do we deal with sin in our lives and in the lives of our friends?

    The particular problem you are dealing with is one that says, “I deserve to be God.”

    Yes, there are going to be times when we do all the “right” things and we still don’t get what we wanted. But the difference between a person who understands who God is relative to themselves will see this as God’s will for them for their good. A person who sees themselves as God will see this as completely unfair.

    So, how would I deal? I’d ask questions? What makes you think you deserve better? How do you know you should have gotten better?

    Once you can get them to see that their attitude of wanting to be God is one of sin, then you can apply the gospel. You are not God, God is God. Look at how majestic he is. And your attitude is in direct rebellion to the God of the universe which means he really should zap you right off the planet. But he doesn’t because he is loving and gracious and longs for you to stop being a rebel so that you can be in relationship with him. He died to take this sin away and to change your heart so that you don’t see yourself as a victim. Won’t you come to him and submit your broken, sick, heart to him so that he can change you and you can find all of your delight in him?

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      Agreed, Dave. This is a sin issue. Good questions.

  • Cornelius VanKempen

    Dave has the right focus. Our treasure should not be of the world, but as Christ says, “Let your treasure not be layed up here on earth, but in heaven. This world is not our home, we are just passing through. Christ was hated here and He says to take up our cross and follow Him. Matthew 6:33,”But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” This is the balance which should be in our lives. Man nothing and God everything!

  • http://www.christcentred.co.uk Tim Wilson

    This is a tough one, and one I must say I struggle with myself. Part of my sinful nature is laziness.

    I always think that we must differentiate constantly between justification and sanctification. You are justified by doing absolutely nothing. But sanctification (and just general LIFE) requires a proactive attitude. I don’t think Christians can be told this enough, and constantly veer towards either error.

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      Yes, that’s an important distinction in this situation.

  • Dave

    I live with someone as described in this particular blog issue. What I have learned is that anger does not help, you must love that person. It doesn’t help that they suffer from a mental illness as well. What is described is common to people with mental illness.

    I am also grateful, as has been mentioned, that I don’t get what I deserve. I am thankful for God’s long suffering.

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      For sure, anger never helps. May God give you grace in your own trial.