“So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.”
1 Corinthians 9:26 NLT

Growing up, my instinctive reaction to trouble was to look for a scapegoat, someone else I could blame for a situation I was the cause of, totally or in part. As I listen to lots of conversations, I often hear defensive language. It seems we are wired to justify ourselves and deflect blame as far away from us as possible.

But blame gets us nowhere fast. I remember as a church group we offered to plant bulbs to brighten up an estate we worked on. The Local Authority provided the bulbs while we supplied the hard work. We met up as planned early one Saturday morning, but there were only a handful of those of us who’d promised to show up. Once gathered, the person managing the task immediately harangued us as we stood in the cold with a message aimed at those who had not turned up. The only problem was they were not there to hear this message. We had all shown up, and were now deflated by this tirade of words and any esprit de corps evaporated.

The prime lesson is that in every situation things might have gone better. Perhaps commitments have been broken. Yet, we can either cry over the spilled milk which produces no positive results or remind ourselves we are here to make a positive difference. Therefore, how might we do that with the current constraints? Running with purpose in every step means I need to keep the main aim in view. I may experience disappointment because I feel let down. But indulging such emotions, however justified I feel they might be, changes nothing apart from my mood and motivation.

Learning to die to self is always going to present me, and you, with enormous challenges. Yet, it is a consistent theme throughout scripture and for the simple reason that once I choose to focus upon myself, my vision is impaired; I look inward, when my purpose is to live with purpose – serving others.

Are you taking responsibility for your personal discipleship, or are you blaming something or someone else for your lack of progress?

Lord, help me not to shift the blame to someone else for things that are my responsibility.