Passing the Buck

The Abundant Life: Riches money can’t buy…

Those living the abundant life do not defend poor choices by passing the buck.

Passing the buck is an expression that has nothing to do with the American dollar. It actually means to shift the responsibility or blame somewhere else. This expression dates back to frontier times in the mid-1800s. In poker games, a piece of buckshot or a knife with a buckhorn handle was passed around to remind players that they were the next dealer.

I was reminded of this phrase when watching the recent Oppenheimer movie which is about designing and dropping the bomb on Japan which ended World War II. This happened when Harry S. Truman was president. Truman kept a plaque with that phrase on his desk in the oval Office. He felt the president had to make certain decisions and take responsibility for them. Oppenheimer may have made the bomb, but Truman made the decision to drop it. The buck stopped with him.  

We live in a society that is very adept at passing the buck! No one wants to accept responsibility for bad choices. If a person smokes and gets cancer, it’s the tobacco industry’s fault. If a person shoots someone, it’s the gun manufacturer’s fault. If a person drives drunk, it’s the bartender’s fault. If a child misbehaves, it’s the music industry’s fault.  Should the tobacco industry, gun manufacturers, bartenders, music industry, and others act more responsibly?  Yes!  Are they to blame for the choices we make?  No!

This “blaming others for our actions” mentality influences almost every aspect of our lives. We want to blame our “lot in life” on our parents, our neighborhood, the times we live in, our lack of good fortune or fate. Yet many born into poverty have risen above it and many with health problems have accomplished much. Oprah Winfrey, Sam Walton, Andrew Carnegie, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Helen Keller are just a few that come to mind. While it’s true that environment and heredity can limit our choices in life, they can’t determine what kind of person we choose to be. Our actions determine that.    

This proclivity to blame others is not new. It’s been going on since the time of Adam and Eve. In Genesis 3, we see that when God asked Adam why he disobeyed by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam blamed Eve. Then Eve blamed the serpent. Adam went so far as to say to God, “It’s the woman, YOU gave me!”  Now it was God’s fault. Everyone wanted to blame somebody else and we’ve been blaming others for what we do ever since.

Those living the abundant life know that blaming others or blaming circumstances never improves a situation.  If anything, it only makes it worse. They don’t try to pass the buck. They know the buck stops with them. 


…I have come that they may have life and that they

may have it more abundantly.” ~John 10:10 (KJV)

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