Many years ago a former American astronaut took over as head of a major airline. He was determined to make the airline’s service the best in the industry. One day, as the new president walked through a particular department, he saw an employee resting his feet on a desk while the telephone on the desk rang incessantly. “Aren’t you going to answer that phone?” the boss asked. “This isn’t my department,” answered the employee nonchalantly, apparently not recognizing his new boss. “I work in maintenance.” “Well, you don’t work there anymore,” the president said. That employee was fired.
This morning, I want to talk about personal responsibility. I want you to know, that being young, being a teenager doesn’t automatically mean that you are free from being responsible for your life. Your arena of responsibility may not be as large as an adult, but you have responsibilities nonetheless.
In the book of Jeremiah in the Bible, God summons a youth by the name of Jeremiah and gives him a task, a mission, as a prophet of God. And Jeremiah responds by saying, “I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.” But God replies, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you…”
So don’t use the excuse of youth. You are responsible for your studies. You are responsible for your health. You are responsible to manage your allowance. You are responsible for how you spend your time. You are responsible for your values and how your character develops.
Several years ago, a team from my church went to Timor Leste on a mission trip, to minister to the youths in some schools there and to assist in the rebuilding efforts of this fledging country. The country is impoverished. The infrastructure limited. Education is challenging. The children going to school don’t have much in terms of facilities; and because many of them are poor, textbooks and stationery are scarce. However, when one youth was asked, “why do you want to go to school in spite of all these challenges?”… he gave an astonishing answer.
Before I tell you what he said, I’d like to ask us to answer that question for ourselves. Perhaps if I was being honest, I may reply, “I don’t want to go to school, but I have to!” Or others may reply “in order that I may secure a job in which I can attain fulfillment and provide for my future family.”
This young lad from Timor Leste in answer to this question replied, “Because the future of my country depends on me.”
We in Singapore, live in a country of bountiful opportunities. Yet, how many of us have a vision and ambition that stretches beyond our own personal goals and dreams? How many of us long to make a difference in our country and society? But just like the prophet Jeremiah, God has a divine assignment crafted especially for you; that you might be a blessing to the world. And if you would rise up to the challenge, the same promise that God made to Jeremiah would be available to you. “Do not be afraid… I am with you.”
Recently, when I celebrated my birthday, my daughter made a card for me. On it, she wrote several verses from the Bible, but two of these verses struck me. Let me read them for you. Psalm 128:3-4 “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.”
It was amazing to read these verses and Samantha doesn’t know this but years ago, before she was born, before I was even married, a brother in Christ I got to know on a mission trip felt led to share this very same passage with me. At that time, I was asking God, “Would I get married, is there someone for me?” And God spoke and assured me that He would be with me and provide for me as I trusted in Him and continued to serve Him. What God promised, He fulfilled, as I took personal responsibility in obeying Him. My wife and children stand as testimonies of God’s faithfulness.
Dear friends, would you thus be encouraged to take ownership of your studies and your life, to trust in God and obey Him because He invites you to receive His promise, “Do not be afraid, I am with you.”
Pray: Our gracious and loving Father, thank You for the promise of Your faithful presence. May You grant us Your wisdom, strength and peace in this season where much work needs to be done and where we might be tempted to worry and be anxious. Grant that we might rise up and take personal responsibility over our studies and our lives as You enable and empower us. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.