One of the biggest problems in current parenting is the inability for parents to give their children the Gift of Responsibility. In my 30 years of raising children, it was one of our biggest challenges to consistently require our children to fulfill their responsibilities of chores, schoolwork, and outside jobs. Now that my sons and daughters are all adults, I can see the fruit of all the effort and I can assure you in retrospect… it’s worth it.
In a healthy family, parents don’t do all the work. This has nothing to do with idleness or a lack of willpower—they know that if they deprive their child of hard work and responsibilities, they take away the child’s vehicle for growth. Wise parents will provide age-appropriate responsibilities to help their child develop the qualities necessary to be a thriving adult.
As spiritual parents, our primary job is people development. We operate with the conviction that no one can truly grow in Christ apart from service to others. We then design that service on an age-appropriate level—simple tasks for the newly saved and high-level leadership for the more mature.
The most important element a spiritual or natural parent can impart to their child is the element of responsibility. We are called to live responsibly in relationship to God and others and ultimately, we are each responsible to give an account to God Himself. God called each of us for a purpose, and there’s nothing more important than discovering that purpose and fulfilling it. We are all responsible to serve the Lord in basic ways—such as reading His Word, prayer, witnessing to friends, etc.—and you are also responsible to serve the Lord in very unique ways He designed specifically for you, according to Ephesians 2:10.
The true spiritual family will help every individual discover their spiritual gifts and calling and help them develop over time, so they can fulfill everything God ordained for them.
Self-government and self-management are two of our main responsibilities as followers of Jesus. We have to learn to manage our time, energy, and money, and we also must learn to manage our thinking, emotions, and interactions with others. In some cases this means drawing boundaries if we find ourselves vulnerable to manipulation or abuse. That is all part of self-management.
Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. Our devotion to God keeps everything in perspective, but our service to others needs to be guided by the maintenance of our own selves so we won’t burn out like sprinters trying to run a marathon.
For most of us, our service to God will inevitably end up in some kind of service to others, which we commonly call “ministry.” This service to others can take on many different forms and expressions. Sometimes it’s as simple as offering a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus or helping someone in a practical way. It could be more specific as well, such as trying to help someone understand Scripture or teaching them how to pray more effectively. It could also mean praying for them in a way that brings breakthrough in their lives. Service to others can take place at our jobs, in our neighborhoods, or in the church parking lot.
We will be most fulfilled and most fruitful when we are serving others according to the gifts and calling of God in our lives.
The Gift of Responsibility could be the most important in this series and here’s why. Many pastors are good delegators but most are not good developers. We know how to hand people a mop but we don’t usually take the time to help them grow. The result is a high amount of burnout and many resenting the Church. At the same time, the people you are leading will never develop into the people that Jesus created them to be unless they learn how to serve. As spiritual parents, let us give the Gift of Responsibility in a way that “inspires” instead of “requires” and let us raise up our spiritual children into full adults who are empowered to change the world.