One of the biggest, and most dangerous trends I see in our world today, is the “victim state” we live in. Let me explain.
Everything is someone else’s fault now, and we are all victims of someone or something else. There is no responsibility on us to own up to our own shortcomings. When something bad happens, we immediately figure out who we’re going to blame for it.
We live in a virtual dark alley, and someone is always taking advantage of us. There is always some way that someone or something has mistreated us.
Is it even possible though? Can we all be victims? For there to be a victim, doesn’t someone have to be a perpetrator?
Bad things do happen. I would never make a claim that they don’t. People can do some really awful things. There are true victims. There are people who have been wounded by others, taken advantage of by others, used and abused by others. I do not belittle this truth. In fact, it is because of this truth, that I think we need to stop playing the victim in the small things.
Why? Because when we make ourselves out to be the recipient of someone’s abuse (when what really happened is we made a mistake or we came up short) we belittle the true victims who have gone through traumatic things.
More often than not, we bear the burden of responsibility in the problems we face in life. Yes, bad things happen. Yes, people take advantage of us. But, most of the time, we have done or not done something that led us to our current state.
The most common place I hear this is when it comes to work. Not very many people truly like work. I love my job and I love the mission of our church. But there are certainly times when I would rather be at home with my family.
What happens though, is this: because we don’t like our job or our boss or our pay, we find ways that we are being mistreated or taken advantage of or disrespected, etc. Therefore, when we’ve “had enough” we just call it quits. We walk away, and our story inevitably entails all the ways we were mistreated. Or, our attitude becomes so bad that we get let go. Either way, we are the victims.
Even though the reality may be that we didn’t do the job we were hired to do, or we just don’t like the idea of having to work to provide income for ourselves and would rather be sitting on the couch watching the Price is Right or blowing things up on our Xbox.
Contrast this mindset, with the mindset we are supposed to be living according to:
6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” (2 Thes. 3:6-10)
Aside from work, there are other ways we make ourselves out to be the victim. But, aside from the ways we have actually been victimized, most of the ways we make ourselves out to be the victim boil down to our selfishness.
- When a relationship goes bad, it’s always because of the other person.
- When we get in an accident, it was always the other person’s fault.
- When we are late to work, it was because of this or that – not because we got up late.
- When we don’t pay our bills, it’s because someone took money from us who shouldn’t have.
- When our car dies, it’s because the mechanic didn’t do this or that even though we never checked the oil.
- If we’re overweight we sue McDonalds.
- If we have high blood pressure we blame our parents.
- When we don’t feel close to God, it’s the churches fault.
- And when all else fails, we blame the government.
There are literally hundreds of ways we make ourselves out to be a victim. There are millions of excuses we make for why we can’t do something, or be the kind of person we are supposed to be.
Why does this matter?
It’s pretty simple really. When we are never to blame for our mistakes, we are always at the mercy of someone else to make us happy. We have so many reasons to be unhappy, because we have so many excuses and so much blame to push onto others.
In the end, we are the only ones who can live our lives in such a way that we improve our lives. It its not someone else’s responsibility to provide for you. It is not someone else’s responsibility to care for you. It is not someone else’s responsibility to make you happy. All that falls on your shoulders. But, as long as we are victims, we will never truly take control of the responsibility, our lives will always be at the mercy of our circumstances and we will live very unfulfilling and unsatisfying lives.
But, when you take responsibility, and especially when you start to make progress and have success because you are working to achieve it, your whole perspective on life changes. Instead of seeing mountains that can’t be moved, you get a shovel. Instead of seeing problems that can’t be solved, you start coming up with solutions. Instead of seeing a thousand road blocks, you see opportunities.
I’m not talking about some kind of positive thinking, if you dream it you can achieve it, false reality that doesn’t exist. There are limitations. You cannot live on the moon. You cannot own a unicorn. What I’m talking about is reality.
But, when you work hard, you get ahead. When you try to get out of work, you get behind. It’s pretty much that simple. Stop creating a false reality where your happiness is at the mercy of everything around you. Live intentionally and learn to make the most out of what you have.
If you would like to hear more on this topic, listen to these two talks I have given on the topic of responsibility: