Class 46: “Take Full Responsibility” / “Talk and Listen to Every Older Man Past Fifty That You Possibly Can” (Part 1)
Today, we are beginning a new study in which we combine the two letters, “Take Full Responsibility” and “Talk and Listen to Every Older Man Past Fifty That You Possibly Can.”
As we begin this lesson, consider these words from Frederick Douglass. He said, “Truth is proper and beautiful in all times and in all places.”
Let’s begin by reading the portion from Letters to Young Black Men which our lesson is based on:
I am writing you today from a basement office of a church in New Haven, Connecticut. I trust that you are continuing to grow as a young man.
In this letter, I would like to kindly share with you some things about taking responsibility for yourself, and for your life. Somehow, many of us, as young black men, did not acquire a healthy attitude towards self-responsibility. Frankly, many of us are afraid of responsibility. Obviously, there are some who are not afraid of responsibility. But many of us are. And the lack of this one quality can handicap you throughout your life.
I believe that the main reason why many of us as young black men do not have a healthy attitude towards self-responsibility is because we have never been taught it, and because, we have not seen it exemplified by many older black men. Most of us have seen our black women take responsibility, but seldom have we seen our black men do so. This is a tragedy.
The quality of taking responsibility does not come naturally. It has to be taught — more by example than by anything else.
A second reason why we do not take responsibility for our lives as we should is because self-responsibility goes against human nature. Taking responsibility does not come easy. It is human nature, and much easier to be irresponsible than responsible. It is easier, but not better, to have the attitude that the world owes you something — when it does not! It is easier, but not better, to let others take care of you. It is easier, but not better, to be an employee and not the boss. (Believe it or not, being the boss is much more difficult than being the employee. Why? Because the boss is responsible for everything.) It is much easier, but not necessarily better, to stay single even if you do not have the gift of celibacy, than to get married. But staying single and having sex and having babies is irresponsible as well as destructive to so many lives including your own. It is far better to make a commitment to someone special, be responsible, get married, have children, and take care of your family. And may I say being married with children takes a mature and responsible person.
Now, please pull out your printed study guide or your digital study guide as we begin this lesson.
Read the following verse and note what it says about responsibility:
Ezekiel 18:20: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.”
You are responsible for your own actions. You cannot blame your parents, your home life, your friends, your boss, or your girlfriend for the mistakes you make. God created you with a unique heart and mind, and only He gave you complete control over both. Just because none of your buddies are married, does not mean you should not get married. Just because your parents never went to college does not mean you cannot achieve a higher education. Just because all of your girlfriend’s past boyfriends slept with her, does not mean you have to as well. In fact, this is probably a good sign you should let that relationship go and focus on more productive things.
Friend, it is time for you to stop making excuses about factors you cannot control, and begin to make something of YOUR life. You will never be able to change others until you first focus on changing yourself. In the end, you only have one life to live and you will be accountable for what you did with that life. God is not interested in excuses. He knows exactly where you have come from and what you have been through. What makes Him proud is to see how you make the most of your past situations and glorify Him regardless.
As mentioned in the book, one of the main reason many young black men do not have a healthy attitude towards self-responsibility is because we have never been taught it, and we have not seen it exemplified by many older black men.
Proverbs 1:5 states, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:”
In order to be wise you will need to seek after wise counsel. Such instruction will not pop up at your doorstep, but rather must be diligently sought after. One of the ways in which you can gain some of this wisdom is by deliberately communicating with older, wiser black men who have done what you are trying to do now. Listening to them will save you a whole lot of trouble early on in your life. They have gone the way you are trying to go, and they can warn you about pitfalls that you need to avoid on your journey.
Now, Just Do It.
Think of some older black men you know who really seem to exemplify Christ and His wisdom. Perhaps this is a family member, a teacher, or pastor, or even a member of your church. Write their names down and set aside some time to talk with them. Prayerfully consider asking one of them to mentor you on a regular basis.
In closing, Tony Dungy, the first black coach to win the Super Bowl and the host of NBC’s Sunday Night Football said, “You are never going to get anywhere in sports or in life until you become convinced of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You may become a professional athlete or have fame and nice cars and nice houses and a lot of money, but what you’ll find is that all of that stuff goes away pretty quickly. You have to understand that Christ died for our sins, and that He died not just to be our Savior but so that He could be the center of our lives.”
Now, like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people I grew up around said “being saved” was back then especially, in my community, is wrong according to the Bible. I wrote an article about it titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.
First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, understand that a horrible punishment — eternal Hell — awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon Him in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.
Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is the most important decision you will ever make.
If the Lord tarries His coming and we live, I’ll see you for our next class.