Thursday, 26 April 2012

Good intentions aren't good enough

She looked shocked. 'But, I did it out of the best intentions!'
'Best intentions!' I wasn't happy. 'What exactly was the good intention? How can you say your intentions are good, when you have betrayed my confidence?'
'I am so concerned for you, I felt you needed more prayer, so I rang a few people and asked them to pray.'
'How many people?'
'Well...I don't know...I didn't count...'
'Good intentions are not good enough! That does not excuse your behaviour.'

It is many years since I was part of this sad conversation. I recovered and life continued but I leant something that day. We must be accountable for our actions, without hiding behind the excuse that we meant well. I often remind myself that good intentions are not enough. Good behaviour, coming from sound decisions, is essential.

My husband is a business coach. He helps business owners to grow healthy businesses. One of the first things he requires is they live 'Above the Line' where everyone takes Accountability, Ownership and Responsibility for all their decision. There is no place for Blame-shifting, Excuses, Denial. 
In other words you can choose to live as a Victor or a Victim. Victorious people live above the line. Because they know they'll be accountable for their decisions, they consider them carefully. If the decision is wrong they will take responsibly and fix the mess, make amends, or pay damages. They will say, 'I should have better trained my team member,' rather than blame the team member. 

In a victorious life there is no place for blaming our spouse, our parents, the dog or our sad childhood experiences. 
Victor don't use the kids as an excuse for being late.
Victim: 'I never received an email!' Victor: 'Sorry. I must have overlooked that email.' 
Victim: 'It wasn't my fault. Someone changed the settings.' Victor: 'I didn't check the settings.' 
Victim: 'I'm not yelling!' Victor: 'I over reacted. My apologies. Can we try again?' 

 If you look at the first letter of the words above you'll see that victims, those that don't take ownership, end up in BED, the doona over their head as they feel sorry for themselves. But as you begin to take accountability you find an OAR in your hand, a tool that can be used to move yourself forward. It took me a couple of years of practice to make 'Above the Line' a permanent way of life. The chart remains as a constant reminder on the wall of our house. It brings a productive and harmonious home where we live beyond good intentions.

What about you? Do you practice taking responsibility or do think good intentions are good enough?


  1. No, good intentions are not enough. Sadly though we do all make mistakes. And I am so thankful that Holy Spirit helps us day by day to make the right choices, when to speak and when to act. I believe with God's help I am improving at taking responsibility. Thanks for the post and reminder Jo.

  2. A great post, Jo!
    It is very humbling to be made aware of my mistakes - and there have been far too many over my life time. There have been times of denial, tears, anger - both at myself and those who have accused me, tried to point out what I had done. Far too many times I have not FIRST taken it to the Lord and asked for His wisdom, asked He would show me how to respond and not just re-act. And when I have not done that and the anger - and tears - becomes sin because I have not taken responsibility for my actions or words, the Holy Spirit always convict me so I know it needs to put right. I am just so very thankful that in His grace we have the promises of 1John1:9. Okay, that is the first step, but then we still have to deal with the consequences of our excuses, denial, lack of accountability etc. I am so very, very thankful that wounds can be healed but we always need to remember that unfortunately all those concerned, including myself, may still have tender scars to deal with!

  3. Thanks Mary and Nicole for your comments. Oh, haven't we all made mistakes and I am am thankful for the cross of Jesus that heals, cleanses, restores and forgives. And those with tender scars need to be loved, loved and loved again. The wonder about living 'above the line' is that it stops us pointing the finger at others and so reduces the hurt on scars that we can't see, but others feel.

  4. You are absolutely right, good intentions are not enough if we are doing things that are wrong.

    The 'live above the line' thing was very challenging. Taking responsibility for things ourselves is a hard lesson that I think we all need to learn. The one about blaming your kids for being late hit me especially hard because I know how difficult that can be.

    I am wondering though, is it possible to take it too far so that you end up a doormat and take on the blame for others' mistakes?