How many times have you said or thought, “I didn’t mean to, but…”? “But” is the word that interferes with fully living the virtue of responsibility, along with humility. You see, responsibility is so much more than fulfilling one’s duties, that is, checking off tasks on a list. It extends deeper, into accepting the consequences of one’s words and actions, intentional and unintentional. Of course, this does not mean you should take responsibility for an action in which you did not participate. It does mean, however, taking responsibility for an act even if it was unintended.
For example, your tone of voice or body language may communicate annoyance or lack of interest. However, in reality your exterior actions were unintentional. Here is the decision point of living virtue on a deeper level.
How do you respond?
- Option 1: “Thank you for letting me know, and I will try to be more aware of my actions.”
- Option 2: “I didn’t mean to; you are too sensitive and judgmental.”
I will admit that taking responsibility for unintentional words and actions is difficult and requires humility. However, it is the path to self-knowledge, which is essential to living fully the Christian life.