Why we need agency
Agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. Showing agency is a cornerstone of mature adults and a way to take responsibility for yourself. There are a lot of ways we can show agency (or lack agency).
Our finances, for example, are something in which we all can work on showing agency. In Australia, the best-selling book is ‘The Barefoot Investor’ mostly because spending 105 percent of your income is common here. Overspending is certainly a phenomenon of western culture and has become normalized. Often we feel like we aren’t getting paid enough, or everything around us is too expensive (these things can be true) but the solution still begins with us taking responsibility and agency for how we spend our money.
Where could I show agency?
Agency isn’t just about concrete things like money. About eight months after I was diagnosed with burnout, I was finally starting to recover. After spending some time taking some much-needed rest and beginning to feel healthier, I began to reflect on some things that I hadn’t been able to see clearly when I was in the middle of my personal crisis. I realized that I played my own part in the breaking of some relationships as I spiraled toward burnout. During this time, I had become withdrawn and critical, blaming people around me for anything that went wrong and with no capacity for listening to what they had to say. I would simply think “that’s just wrong” without asking any question. Here is the big thing—I wasn’t taking any responsibility for my own part in conflicts.
The steps to agency in one area may require gaining strength in another area.
I needed to become healthy before I was able to see the situation with a clear perspective and to see my own faults. Once I started making healthier choices—setting boundaries for myself and receiving support from the people around me—I realized I had hurt people and knew I needed to take responsibility for my actions. I felt the need to apologize, so got in touch with some people whom I felt I had hurt and wrote them letters of apology. It was somewhat painful and tearful, but it really helped me become aware and not blame others.
Here is the benchmark: Healthy Christian Leaders demonstrate personal responsibility
- How do you show agency? How could you show more?
- Where have you recently taken ownership of the consequences of your actions?
- Can you think of a time when you chose to blame someone for something that you actually had some responsibility for? Why do you think it was so difficult to see your own part in the problem?