Paul David Tripp on Responsibility

This figure is generally what is represented in Tripp’s book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. I recommend the book along with basically anything else in the Resources for Changing Lives series  (War of Words for example). Tripp comes from a Christian counseling perspective that advocates Christians really gaining a solid grasp on scripture and applying it.

One of the concepts he covers that I think back on from time to time is that of identifying who’s job is it to handle what’s happening in our lives. To what extend is it mine? When does God step in? What kind of relationship exists between my circle of responsibility and His?

Tripp diagram3

(Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the words to show up clearly enough to leave them in…so I’ll have to explain outside of the chart.)

This chart is called ‘Clarifying Responsibility.’

Area 1 is Concern/Entrust to God. This is the sphere in which matters concern us, but these issues extend beyond our responsibility. Our efforts aren’t sufficient, so we give these things to God and trust Him to supply.

Area 2 is Responsibility/Faithfully Obey. The inner sphere includes things that God has given us to do. We need to accept responsibility for these and obey Him.

The arrows moving from the inner circle to the outer circle exemplifies when we try to take on some of God’s responsibilities. Tripp calls these folks ‘overly responsible.’

The arrow pressing from outward to the inner circle represents when we try to give God back some of the responsibility He has entrusted to us. Tripp calls these people ‘irresponsible.’

The third group of people find themselves, ‘genuinely confused’ about which roles are theirs and which tasks belong to God, so they often oscillate between taking on too much and doing too little. Tripp proposes that many people fall in this category.

This is a really basic diagram, but it succinctly identifies some of the struggles we face when trying to follow God’s will throughout our lives. It also points out where some of our frustrations might be if we’re not clear on who’s job it is to handle some particular situation in our lives.

If we go about trying to do God’s job for Him, not only will we find ourselves exhausted, irritable, and discouraged, but we might be overlooking the very things He has asked us to do. (Personally, that was a pointed reminder!)

However, if we passively ‘wait on the Lord’ on matters that He’s already given us instruction about, we may grow weary of trusting Him and slip into complacency instead of finding contentment and satisfaction that comes from knowing that we are working at the things He’s asked us to do.

Spiritual growth steps from both recognition that there are things only God can do and a willingness to step in and take up the tasks that He has called us to.

“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” –John H. Sammis


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