It was around 1:00 in the morning when I was jarred awake by my wife slapping me in the chest with her arm.
“Did you hear that?! What was that?!” she asked in a panicked, firm whisper.
I wasn’t sure how to answer the question. Seconds ago I was enjoying some great sleep, and now I’m being quizzed on subject matter I know nothing about.
“Did I hear wha…” As the words were slowing coming out of my sleepy mouth, I heard it. A scratching sound was coming from just outside the window next to our bed—next to my side of the bed.
Now, under normal circumstances my wife’s brain thinks about five times the speed of my brain, and under these confusing circumstances, she’s already ten steps ahead of me with a well-developed action plan.
“Go see what it is.” she nervously requested.
My awakening conscious was just now starting to process the situation. There’s a scratching sound outside of our window. Someone or something is trying to break into our house in the middle of the night. Should I call the police? Should I flip on the lights, bang pots and pans and scare the intruder away?
My unfolding plans sounded safe and wise compared to my wife’s more dangerous and seemingly less thought out course of action.
“You want me to go outside in my pj’s, walk around the house in the dark, unarmed and half asleep to see what is scratching at our window?”
“Yes,” she stated matter of factly.
You know what I did next?
I went outside.
But not without first grabbing two pieces of protection to arm myself to face whatever I was about to encounter: a flashlight and a butter knife.
As I think back to that memorable night, which by the way took place early on in our family life, I have to wonder…why in the world did I go outside into the unknown?
I didn’t go because I was brave or fearless. Brave and fearless people don’t grab butter knives to protect their family. I went because I was responsible. It wasn’t my wife’s responsibility to go outside into the dark to defend our family from the intruder. It wasn’t our children’s responsibility. As husband and dad, I have a God-given responsibility to protect my family.
Here’s the thing about responsibility:
Responsibility produces action.
The moment we lose our sense of responsibility is the moment we lose our ability to act. That’s why the teenager walks past the piece of trash on the hallway floor. Consciously or unconsciously she believes it’s not her responsibility. That’s why that one particular employee never goes the extra mile to help his co-workers. He doesn’t believe it’s his responsibility. That’s why some never consider serving in their local church. Somewhere deep down they think it’s not their responsibility.
Hey dads, nothing will create more idleness in your life like a lack of responsibility. And there’s a difference between a lack of responsibility and being irresponsible. Irresponsibility is wild and foolish action. Lack of responsibility is making the choice not to act. Responsibility is wisely taking ownership of your actions.
Thankfully God makes it clear in his Word who we are responsible to. I don’t have to wake up each day (or in the middle of the night) and wonder, “Is that my responsibility?”
I’m responsible to love my wife well (Ephesians 5:25) and lead my kids wisely (Ephesians 6:4). Sure, there are many other things I’m responsible for and responsible to, but in my family, my primary role is to love her and lead them.
Responsibility and Accountability
When you’ve been given a specific responsibility, it’s only natural that you will also be held accountable for that something. For example, if I give one of my daughters the responsibility to feed the dog, then I also have the right to hold her accountable when she forgets to feed him.
Likewise, since God gives you and me certain responsibilities toward our families, there will come a day when we’re held accountable for how we loved our wives and lead our kids.
When I near the end of my life, I don’t want to look back on these precious moments with regrets wishing I had done more. I want to own this dad role. I want to take responsibility in a way that leads me to action. And I want you to join me.
I don’t ever want to be guilty of saying, “That’s not my job,” or “Someone else can do that.” I want to charge outdoors into the dark with a flashlight and a butter knife.
(By the way, it turns out there wasn’t any intruder trying to get in the house—just a skunk trying to get out!)