Confession #27: Our Youth Need Accountability & Responsibility, Part 3
GUEST POST BY TANYA PIRTLE, BOARD MEMBER
You are responsible and accountable for your own behavior and its consequences whether it is positive or negative. This is a statement taken out of the policy manual I am currently working on for Emmaus House. It is a principal concept that all good parents attempt to teach their children. In a country where justice is twisted by money, and corruption reigns supreme, learning to be above reproach and not dependent on others is a vital lesson these young people can’t afford to compromise.
As we continue our journey through Proverbs 31:1-9, we have already seen that young King Lemuel is being instructed by his very wise and loving mother. The next two pieces of concrete advice she gives her son is that there will be consequences for his actions. In this text, she gives a warning specifically about sexual immorality and alcohol, however, the larger lessons to be learned here may be the consequences she spells out that will incur if young people don’t take heed.
While abstaining from immorality and alcohol are certainly lessons the youth of Emmaus need, perhaps the bigger message here is one of accountability and responsibility. Since the time children begin to speak, they almost always answer back with “Why?” when instructed. As all wise mothers do, she answers that question. There is much to be learned in the reasons she gives for requesting his abstinence in these two areas.
First, she states in verse 3 that if he spends his strength and vigor on women, it will lead to his ruin, destruction, or literally, he will be wiped away. There are consequences to our actions and people must be held accountable. So many times youth are not held accountable when they are young and are left to learn their lessons from life itself, from making the mistake and suffering the consequences. If they aren’t held accountable at this young age, and if they are not warned about the destruction sin can make in their lives, the hard, cold, callous world will teach them and it will not be pretty.
When the world teaches them…they live with the consequences their entire life. In the harsh reality of Haiti, second chances don’t come very often. If this young man takes heed and learns to be accountable for his actions from his mother while he is young, it will save him the dire consequences later. If he doesn’t, she warns him he will be destroyed, or wiped away. Emmaus wants our youth to understand that they are accountable for their actions. A behavioral management program is being put in place to hold our youth accountable. Privileges, restriction, and discipline will be the result of choices made. It’s that simple. In other words, “…whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
Next, in verse 5, she gives the “why” as to abstaining from alcohol. She warns that if he falls to drink, he will “forget what the law decrees and deprive the oppressed of their rights.” This young man has professional responsibilities, which pertain to understanding the law and protecting the oppressed in society. The consequences of our actions many times affect others around us. The youth of Emmaus will grow to someday have the responsibilities of family, careers, and helping their countryman. They are the youth of Haiti who have been given a great deal and they will have the responsibility to give back to the church, their families, and their country. With an estimated unemployment rate of 60% in Haiti, these young people cannot afford to give way to the pleasures of a vice such as alcohol, and doing so could potentially end a life saving career. In I Thessalonians 3:11, Paul exhorts the brethren in Thessalonica to “aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we charged you; so that you may command the respect of outsiders, and be dependent on nobody.” It is imperative that our young people grow to be workers in Haiti who have the ability to help others instead of continually being dependent on outsiders as is so often the case. This will be nearly impossible if they don’t learn to abstain from vices, and maintain a work ethic to keep them self-sufficient.
Emmaus plans to be intentional in teaching responsibility to our youth. Not only is education key, but teaching work ethic is vital. Nothing will be given to the youth, everything they have will need to be earned. Gifts or money will not be given directly to the youth as handouts tend to create attitudes of entitlement and laziness. They will be given the opportunity to learn to start and run a business. Weekly job opportunities will include t-shirt screen printing, candy making, sewing, jewelry making, computer repairs, and various other vocations. Since one of the goals is to teach the youth to become independent young adults, there will be a monthly salary program used to train the youth how to budget the money they earn. Each young adult will pay a percentage of their earnings each month to the Emmaus House for “rent and living expenses”. This money will then be funneled back through their sponsorship account. The remainder of their earned salary will be theirs to keep and deal with in a responsible manner. The goal is to eventually reduce the amount they are supported by the house until they are able to live independently.
We are so grateful for the support and love that have been shown by so many of you that share the vision for Emmaus House. As anyone who has tried to teach these principles to young people knows, the challenges ahead for Emmaus are great. It isn’t easy to hold young people accountable and teach them responsibility. It certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. However, if we stand on the principles that God has laid out for us in His word, the youth will be immensely blessed with a foundation to sustain them for a lifetime.