I'm Not Responsible for You

Ever feel like you keep helping people who don't really want to be helped?

We've all been there.

You know, where you give someone advice and your time, help them, and show them you care, only to have that person completely ignore you OR take what you do for granted. 

John Maxwell was talking about a friend of his who, for some reason, was taking up a bit too much of his mental space. He was beginning to feel responsible for a friend’s bad decisions. Another friend of Pete’s said that Pete needed to be responsible TO his friend, not FOR his friend.

A lot of this goes back to Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s terrific book Boundaries, but I found the little phrase "be responsible TO and not FOR" very helpful.

The Mindset

You are not God. A lot of times we have deal with trying to perform as someone's savior. We try to solve their problems with our expert advice and feel that if they don't change it somehow reflects us poorly. That's why you may end up getting frustrated with people you help when they don't change or get worse. 

You have to detach yourself from the result. That's something between the person you're helping and God. 

You're not responsible for the change. Even as a coach, I don't take responsibility for the changes someone and that's why I don't take their credit either. That was God's grace and their faith expressed through their works. 

Your job, my job, is to be there, to be present for those we're helping. 

The Key

As soon as you hear someone tell you about their frustrations, you interpret that as seeking for advice. And you are too quick to give it. 

Instead, focus on active listening, acknowledging their feelings (it does not mean validating them), and patiently waiting for them to be ready for change. 

You must encourage the hunger for change rather than give out the formula for that change. If they didn't ask for it, they are not likely to implement it. Plus, it's only your opinion. 


You have to wait on them. Things don't always change over night and people normally need to go through some phases before they can change. I won't beat this point anymore than by writing this: your patience will show them that they can be patient with the process of change. 

Learning to be responsible TO your friends instead of FOR your friends will liberate you. 

Thank me later. 

- Coach Fredy Romero