Taking Responsibility

Chapter 8 – The Environment of Responsibility

     “Responsibility” is a loaded word for me and I’m probably not alone.  Along with “mature” and “act your age” and “apply yourself”, this word led me many times during my adolescent years to roll my eyes and sulk away to my room, assuming that my parents had no idea about what it mean to be whatever age I was at the time.  In retrospect, my parents were right of course.  I needed to be responsible.  I needed to be more mature and to apply myself – all of that.  It didn’t make it any less annoying, but it was definitely true.  Come to think of it, that’s probably what made those statements so frustrating to me growing up.  As I read this chapter, I thought about that struggle for maturity only this time with much more sympathy for the parental side of the equation.  Here are a few things I gleaned:

  1. It does not help and actually harms our children to shield them from their responsibilities.  Anthony says on page 136, “If I live in an environment where I am not responsible for anything or anyone, I become self-centered, selfish, and myopic in my perspective.”  At times, our tendency is to shield and deflect and protect our kids from difficult things, even things that they should do.  Protecting them from harmful things is of course essential, but oftentimes, I’ve found myself ‘protecting’ them from the self-sufficiency and responsibility of simply growing up.  Just this morning I caught myself doing this.  As we were getting the kids dressed and ready for the day, I found myself putting on Daniel’s socks and shoes for him.  Mind you, his shoes do not have laces but velcro instead.  He is perfectly capable of putting on his shoes and should be responsible for that small task.  But since part of me still sees him as younger than he is, I do that little thing for him far too often.   Kids learn to be responsible for the small things first and then can being to be responsible for more and more.  I’m finding that it’s difficult to let some of these things go.  I imagine that it doesn’t get any easier…
  1. Small intentional things are doable and helpful.  Anthony talks about a daily task that she would give her kids – something to look for throughout the day.  I think that this is a wonderful idea and is something that could lead to some really good conversations.  I think that it’s so important that our children learn that following Jesus is something you work at daily and not just something that happens because you go to church or because your parents are Christians.  My children need to know that being a Christian and serving God impacts how they treat people and how they respond to stuff at school and with their friends.  The idea of reading a Bible verse and then giving your children something to look for during the day is a great way to start giving your children an awareness of our responsibility to God is woven throughout our days (yep – we can also say “response-ability”). 
  1. For me, the best quote from this chapter was in the next-to-last paragraph.  Anthony says, “To be a spiritual parent means that I will live an authentic life before my children and allow them to be eyewitnesses to my own faith journey.  All of us at one time or another have experienced this pull toward being selfish.  But since responsibility is something God is asking of us, we can pray and ask Him to change our hearts.”  Authenticity is so important.  Our kids need to see us taking responsibility for our missteps and our mistakes.  They need to hear us saying “I’m sorry” – to them and to other people.  Our kids need to hear us say “I’m wrong” when we are and then watch as we work to correct and change course.  That is a witness of responsibility. 

Thanks for reading!

Grace and Peace,

Wes

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