We've all thought to ourselves, "If I had that job..." or "If my kids would obey..." or "If we just had that extra money..." Fill in the blank. We've all taken our problems and turned them around to be someone or something else's fault. We seem to prefer to pretend that we have no responsibility in the matter, and the "world" is out to get us.
Stephen Covey, in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, states "Anytime we think the problem is 'out there,' that thought is the problem. We empower what's out there to control us."
There's a story in Scripture about a guy named Joseph. Joseph was the most loved son of Jacob. Joseph had a bit of a wisdom problem. He was given dreams from God, but he didn't have the wisdom in how or when to share the visions. God had given him visions that he would rule over his entire family. As soon as he saw these dreams, he went straight to tell the family. Joseph was already the favorite, and this little act pushed his brothers over the edge. They ended up selling him into slavery. Joseph ended up in Potiphar's house as a servant.
Joseph had every right to sit in self-pity. He had every excuse to excuse himself from the problem, and throw all the blame at someone else. Joseph didn't do that. Joseph was handed a hand of cards he never expected, but he took what was given and he controlled the only thing he could: his response.
Joseph worked on being the right person. Joseph didn't concentrate on what he had or didn't have. He didn't concentrate on what others did to him. He didn't concentrate on what could have been or should have been. Joseph concentrated on being the right person and doing the right things. Because of his concentration on what he could control, he ended up controlling and running Potiphar's entire house.
That's not the end of Joseph's story. Joseph was then hit on by Potiphar's wife. He stood strong in being the right person and literally ran away. Potiphar's wife was so after Joseph and so upset that she told everyone he raped her. So, now Joseph was headed to prison.
Another circumstance in Joseph's life had hit him in the face. He did nothing wrong, but was receiving the consequences of wrongdoing. Joseph didn't stop being the right person. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Joseph continued being.
Joseph worked so hard on being the right person and doing the right things, that he ended up leading the prison and ultimately becoming the second in command in all of Egypt.
Joseph knew something we all need to learn: we are responsible. We aren't responsible for the 10% of things that happen to us, but we are responsible for the way we respond. We are response-able. We have been given the gift of response.
We can either allow our lives to be lived on by others and the circumstances we can't control.
We can live on our lives by the way we respond to the people and circumstances that come into our lives.
The choice is yours. You can't change what someone did to you. You can't change the circumstance you had no control over. You can't change the stupid mistake you made that is just now catching up with you. You CAN control what happens next. You CAN control the response to that person. You CAN control the direction of your life.
Be a Joseph. Start being the right person and doing the right things. Control what you can. You and I are responsible for our responses.