Shifting the Blame

So, it’s been awfully quiet on the old “Grabbing a Beer with a Pastor” blog and podcast. Don’t worry, we’ll be back at it soon enough! I’ve got some interviews scheduled and I’m excited to share some great stuff with you. Now, to the subject matter of this post…

Shifting the blame…it’s something that has been around since the creation of humankind (taking the Biblical accounts of creation literally is not required to accept this idea).

“In the beginning”…Adam and Eve ate the fruit. Adam shifted the blame to Eve. Eve then shifted the blame to the serpent.

In most cases, we shift the blame in an effort to avoid taking responsibility for our actions or inaction.

Last week, I attended the Rooted Church Planting Network conference at Ginghamsburg. One of the presenters, Jorge Acevedo, briefly spoke about the practice of blame in the church.

He stated, “When we blame lack of church growth on a person (the pastor), we diminish the beauty of the body of Christ.” To expand that thought, he talked about how, when we blame a person, we are implying that church growth and faithfulness rises and falls on the shoulders of a single heroic leader.

In other words, blaming the pastor is a way of shifting responsibility. So, we say things like, “When Pastor Bill was here, things were wonderful. The church was overflowing with people. Then, Pastor Jason came and things just fell apart.”

That also makes me think of something, not only should we avoid blaming another, we should also avoid giving all the credit to that single heroic leader. We have to remind ourselves of reality. If things were great, and growing, and healthy, one would have to assume that people were stepping up to the plate and playing their appropriate role.

We love to blame others! If things aren’t growing, we blame the pastor for not making enough visits. Of course, Carey Nieuwhof would lead us to believe that visits won’t grow a church. If things aren’t growing, we blame the pastor for not preaching strong enough sermons. Of course, some reports would indicate that most people make up their mind whether or not to return to a church long before the pastor even says a word.  I could go on and on.

By shifting the blame, we don’t have to ask ourselves the hard questions of what we did or failed to do. By shifting the blame, we don’t have to ask ourselves whether or not we lived up to our expectations.

Of course, pastors aren’t off the hook either. We like to shift the blame as well. We blame the district, the conference, the congregation. We proclaim, “I did all the right things, but those people just didn’t follow through or support the ministry.”

One of the things we will discover is that blaming will get us nowhere.

Blaming others is the easy way out. If I blame you for my failures, I don’t have to own up to it…I don’t have to take responsibility.

To be honest, there may be times where we can blame a single person (like in cases of moral failure, etc). But, more often than not, we need to own up to our share and accept responsibility.

So, will we shift the blame or take responsibility?


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