Thursday, January 9, 2014

Whose Responsibility Is It? by Martin Wiles

“But Dad, I didn’t …” “Dad, it was the teacher who…”

During his tween years, my son was infamous for passing the buck. Getting in trouble at school was never his fault. Either a friend was responsible or the teacher had treated him unjustly. 

Passing the buck is the opposite of another popular saying: “The buck stops here.” The phrase reportedly originated with the game of poker. Markers indicated whose turn it was to deal, and in frontier days the marker was often a knife with a buckhorn handle. Later, the saying was used to refer to the act of passing responsibility. American President Harry S. Truman had a sign on his desk which read, “The Buck Stops Here.” When delivering his farewell address to the American people, he said, "The President--whoever he is--has to decide. He can't pass the buck to anybody.”

Shifting responsibility wasn’t indigenous to my son or Americans who lived during Truman’s presidency. Obviously it was an issue in the first century as well. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. (James 1:14 NLT) In fact, the practice retreats as far back as the first couple who attempted to do the same thing after they sinned.

The sources of temptation vary with as many as three: Satan, others, and ourselves. But the responsibility lies squarely with me. In the end, God holds me accountable for my infractions. Satan may himself intensify the circumstances or he may use others, but in the final analysis I must admit what I often don’t want to: “It’s my fault.” Only then can I receive forgiveness and move on to the more important mission of accepting responsibility and learning from my mistakes. 

Are you often tempted to pass the buck? Let God teach you to take responsibility for your actions.

Prayer: All Powerful God, remind us that we—and no one else, are responsible to You for our sins.

Martin N MichelleHelp spread the encouragement by sharing this site with a friend.


  1. My boys have become masters at passing the buck! We've started working on serving others as a result. Thanks for sharing via Family Fun Friday.

  2. This is a good description of at least one of my kids (I'm not naming names!) We are working with him to teach him personal responsibility. Luckily he's still very young.