How to Identify an Insidious Stress Source

Three unexpected surgeries and follow-up therapy within a span of a few months emptied our emergency funds. What happens when what you’ve put aside is not enough?

Larry and I invited his mother to live with us when we saw her independence waning. But, she refused to leave her home state. Larry sent her monthly checks, but we didn’t know what we’d do when she required full-time care. Neither she nor we had the resources to cover it—and I’m no Florence Nightingale.

Before I share what happened in these situations, I want to talk about the difference between being faithful and being responsible.

  • Faithfulness is doing our best in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.
  • Being responsible is working hard and taking responsibility for the results.

Being a typical firstborn, I used to see being responsible as something noble, as being dependable. Now I see it as an insidious source of stress that comes from trusting in myself instead of in God.

A strong sense of responsibility steals our rest. It causes us to use people and resent those who slow us down. With responsibility always calling, taking time to appreciate accomplishments before jumping into the next big challenge seems unnecessary.

Those who are faithful work hard, but they know when to let go, when to rest and recharge, when the group or individual’s needs are more important than the goal, and when to celebrate small wins. They know God’s kingdom is bigger than their agenda (Matthew 6:32-34).

Faithfulness and being responsible look alike, but the difference is enormous and eternal. Let’s look at how these different views might affect the application of the following passage.

“Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8, NASB).

The Responsible Response—”It’s up to me.”

  • I stay on duty so I won’t be a sluggard.
  • It’s up to me predict possible troubles.
  • It’s up to me to solve future problems.
  • If I can’t take care of it, I’m toast.

The FAITH-ful Response—”He is able.”

We’re called to live by faith. God wants us to be wise stewards. But, our security rests on our Provider not on our provision.

Many times, Larry has taken the initiative to generate funds for Lighthouse, but his contacts didn’t respond. Yet, God rewarded his faithfulness from other sources.

What’s the difference between being responsible and being faithful? It’s the difference between stress and rest.

The responsible person works for tomorrow but misses the joy of today. The faithful person prepares for tomorrow while enjoying today.

Remember our medical emergencies? Unaware of our needs, an out of town friend met Larry for breakfast and delivered a generous gift to our ministry. Larry was able reimburse his outstanding bill. God also provided a wonderful place for Larry’s mother that didn’t require her to leave Arizona or cost one penny more than she could pay!

What responsibility is burdening you? Are you trusting your efforts or God to meet your needs? Faithfully carry your crumbs and watch God provide the harvest.

Click here to comment.


Debbie W. Wilson

Linking to #WordswithWinter, Finding Faith Linkup, #LifeGivingLinkup , #SharingHisBeautyLinkup, #MondayMusings, #Women with Intention, 

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  1. Nancy Wallace

    Excellent post….needed to hear this today!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Nancy. A lesson learned the hard way! So wonderful to hear from you.

  2. Ann

    This is a great reminder any day of the week for me! I am a first born also and learning the difference has taken me a lifetime and I’m still working on it some days! I love the way you distinguished the two: “The responsible person works for tomorrow but misses the joy of today. The faithful person prepares for tomorrow while enjoying today.” My recent experience with surgery has taught me a lot of things and this is definitely one of them! I am learning (finally – I am pretty slow sometimes!) it is NOT all up to me. Obvious I know but to my mind it was the truth for way too long.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Ann, this is a principle has taken me a while to fully embrace. The more I do the better I am!

  3. Sandi

    Amen. I needed this today as I think about what I need/want to get done. Having a “Martha” personality comes with high expectations — too high usually — of myself.

    today I will be faithful not responsive!!!!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Good for you, Sandi!

  4. Tanya Register

    July 24, 2014 Amazing Grace. Is the day our house in Apex sold.
    I listened to the words “strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord…” over and over during the days, weeks, and months before the sell. Gary & I had done everything we believed God wanted us to do but we were out of funds and starting to feel the stress of the situation. We tied a knot and held on! And God provided–just like he promised—a buyer at just the right time. we thanked Him in the middle of it all and continue to thank Him and praise Him today. I have a note: “AMAZING GRACE: July 24, 2014” on my desk to help me remember .

    • Debbie Wilson

      Tanya, what a beautiful testimony! Thank you for sharing it with us.

  5. Michelle

    I appreciate your insights, Debbie. You helped me make a decision regarding a difficult relatonship which has allowed me to show honor to the person without missing God’s peace and joy! Thanks for writing!

    Praying for you,

    • Debbie Wilson

      Glory to God, Michelle! He’s amazing.

  6. Stacey Thureen

    Thank you so much for sharing your blog post. I needed this, and I believe many other readers will be blessed by your words. Thank you so much.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Stacey. We need each other’s encouragement. Thank you for reading. God bless.

  7. Kelly S

    You pegged me with the responsible description. I think of the difference between Mary and Martha. It is always a struggle for me to sit at the feet of Jesus when there are dishes in the sink! #LifeGivingLinkup

    • Debbie Wilson

      Kelly, Mary and Martha are great examples. And Martha showed we can learn to rest in our souls even as we work. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  8. Kiki Stamatiou

    Great article. It resonates with me. In addition to being a writer/blogger, I’m a caregiver for my elderly grandmother. My aunt and uncle are co-caregives with me when it comes to taking care of my grandmother. I don’t mind doing my part to take care of her, making sure she is comfortable, but being a caregiver can be physically draining. There are times when I’ve become frustrated when she cries at night from pain. My aunt advises her to take a pain reliver medication to help alleviate the pain, but my grandmother doesn’t always comply. Another problem is that she sleeps too much during the day, and usually doesn’t like to sleep at night. It’s draining for my aunt and uncle, too, just as much as it is to me. However, I do what I can to take care of her, because she’s my grandmother, and second, it’s the Christian thing to do. I do agree about what you say regarding putting one’s faith and trust in the Lord, in order to prevent being overwhelmed by stress.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Kiki, I can see where it would be easy to feel responsible for your grandmother’s comfort and wellbeing. We can love others, pray for them and for wisdom on how to help, but only God can truly comfort and bring relief. Those we care for also have to choose to receive the comfort we offer. When we give up feeling responsible for their responses, it helps us give joyfully without the burden of feeling responsible for whether they receive it or not. And when we are at peace that often helps them! The Lord says as you have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto Him. He appreciates your service of love. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

      • Kiki Stamatiou

        Debbie, thank you so much for the helpful advice. I appreciate it and your kind words.

        • Debbie Wilson

          You’re welcome, Kiki.

  9. Pamela

    Responsible and Faithful…not sure I’ve thought about the difference. I will now! What n insightful post into the actions and results of both. I want to be full of faith!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Amen, Pamela. So do I!

  10. Lori Schumaker


    I love this! “The responsible person works for tomorrow but misses the joy of today. The faithful person prepares for tomorrow while enjoying today.” – I and my husband both need to repeat this over and over … and over again! My longstanding joke with my husband is that on his headstone someday, it will be written “The final box has been checked”.
    Thank you so much! I’m so glad I found you on #SharingHisBeauty!

    Blessings and smiles,

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Lori, for reading. That is a funny epitaph I bet a lot of us can identify with!

  11. Kiki Stamatiou

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Your artivle resonated with me. I often put forth the effort of being responsible. But today, for the first time in my life, I decided to take things easy, and relax by watching some DVD’s of cartoons with my aunt and grandmother. Doing so helped me to unwind. I need to do so more often.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Kiki, good for you. Taking time to laugh and smile refreshes us and makes life more fun. Laughter is good medicine!

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