“Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.”
— MATTHEW 25:21
Last week, I emphasized how it’s the little things that matter, and this also applies to the virtue of responsibility. Jesus taught this same lesson in the parable of the talents.
Responsibility means fulfilling one’s just duties and accepting consequences of one’s words and actions—intentional and unintentional. We all appreciate and value people who are reliable, responsible, and fulfill their obligations. However, the second part of the definition places the virtue on a deeper level. This virtue prevents us from deflecting our responsibility or accountability on others. For example, in the parable of the talents, the one who had received one talent and proceeded to blame the Master for being a “demanding person” (Mt. 25:13-30) failed to take responsibility for neglecting to use the gift entrusted to him.
Looking closely at what is necessary to live this virtue, we see how the other virtues interconnectedness shines forth. Accepting responsibility for one’s actions requires honesty and humility, both of which are virtues related to temperance. These virtues steady the person to recognize the truth of the situation and accept the consequences of their actions.
In educating the youth, I want to encourage you to teach them to fulfill their duties and accept the consequences of not being responsible. We need to raise a generation of young people who are faithful in small matters and willing to humbly and honestly recognize when they fall short. The best way to teach this to them is to model it in our daily lives and faithfully fulfill our own responsibilities.