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Spheres of Responsibility and Concern
Here Are the Teaching Notes for This Seminar
- Are you generally more concerned about those you counsel?
- Or do you generally feel more responsible for those you counsel?
There is a difference.
Paul Tripp taught us that there is a sphere of responsibility and a sphere of concern. The sphere of responsibility should be much smaller than the sphere of concern. I am responsible for a few things and I am concerned about many things.
In counseling, it is one thing to be responsible for someone to change and a wholly other matter to be concerned as to whether they actually change.
I do weep for some of my counselees. I pray for all of them. And I will bend over backwards to speak the truth in love to them. My hope is that they will change. But I am not responsible for them changing. I cannot make them change. Repentance is a gift from God and I never know when he will grant it.
How do I know when I have crossed the line from being concerned for those I serve to feeling responsible for them changing?
That is a good question, but I cannot answer it for you.
However, I do know when I cross the line from being appropriately concerned for them to caring too much for them.
It Looks like This for Me
- I’m tempted to become angry when they do not change.
- I can become critical when I think about them.
- I gossip about my counselees to my wife.
- I’m tempted to be cynical and lose faith in God that they will ever change.
- I become impatient when I am with them.
- I exhibit more sadness than joy when I think about them.
When I sense these sin temptations rising in my soul I know that my trust is slipping from the Savior of the Universe to my abilities, agendas and preferences for them. In short, I have become a Mini-Messiah. In these moments I believe the change process rests more on me and my opinion on how things should be than whatever God may be thinking or doing in this situation.
Once I repent of my pride and realize that my main purpose is to water and plant the seed while trusting God to bring the growth, then my human ability to serve my friends does not impede what God is or may be doing in their lives.
However, when I begin to feel more responsible than God intends me to feel, then I typically sin against them. And that becomes a distraction in the counseling process.
My faith for change and the timing for change must be fully in God, especially when I’m counseling the seemingly unchangeable.