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  • Anush A. John

Levels of Responsibility

In a conversation with my children, I was trying to explain to them the privileges that come with responsibility and in doing so attempted to show them different kinds of responsibility. There are multiple levels of being responsible, I realized.


Level 1: The Rebel

This person blatantly does not do what they have been asked to do. A parent asks their child to come home by 9 pm and they consistently do not. A wife repeatedly asks her husband not to humiliate her in public and yet he persistently does.


Level 2: The Uninformed

This person also does not carry out their responsibilities, but the difference is that they don't know what their responsibilities are. This includes those that genuinely forget about a task. All infants automatically fall into this category, since they continue their embarrassing social behavior in spite of careful instruction. In this way, an Uninformed infant is better than a Rebellious adult.


Level 3: The Follower

This type of person follows all instructions. You tell them to take out the trash and they dutifully obey it. Many older children can fall into this group. Parents tell them what to do, and they do it. Parents breathe a sigh of relief when they have children like these, especially when their other kids are Level 1 Rebellious teenagers or Level 2 Uninformed infants.


Level 4: The Motivated

Even though the Follower (Level 3) listens and obeys their parents, they don’t do anything without a specific direction or command. Parents would prefer slightly more than this from their children over time. The Motivated person does what needs to be done without being told. They see a pattern of instruction and proceed to do it. They become self-motivated rather than constantly other-motivated. This is a child who is starting to become an adult. They do their schoolwork not because their parents have to tell them every single day to do it. Instead, they come home from school, recognize their responsibility, and do their tasks.


Level 5: The Responsible

Though the Level 4 Motivated person does their tasks without having to be reminded, they still stop at doing their task and nothing else. A Level 5 person is Responsible. They go above and beyond their own responsibilities. They are cognizant of their own tasks, but also those of someone else. Being aware, they start doing someone else’s task as well. A Motivated child who is self-motivated to take out the trash without being told, becomes Responsible when, on their way in, sees a branch of a tree fallen unfavorably and moves it out. It wasn't his responsibility, but he does it anyway. He goes above and beyond his assigned tasks.


A parent, by definition, is a Responsible (Level 5) person, at least as long as they are actively parenting. Every parent hopes that their child does not only their own responsibilities without being asked but also other tasks around the house that are not specifically theirs.


These levels can be seen not just in parent-child relationships but also in other facets of life. One can be a Follower employee or neighbor that does only what is being told and only on command or one can choose to be a Motivated employee (or neighbor) and do whatever needs to be done without being told, knowing what one's responsibility is.


In spiritual matters too, we can have similar levels of responsibility.

There can be the Rebel who staunchly refuses to do what God has told him. He knows he has to read the Bible and spend time with God but refuses to do so citing unearthly excuses.

The Uninformed can disobey God out of ignorance.

The Follower listens and obeys as long as they are being prodded along by people around them. Children of spiritual parents can be this way. They do spiritual things as long as they are being asked to do them.

The Motivated person continues to seek God even when there is no one to encourage them.

But the Responsible person (Level 5), is not only motivated to seek God and pray for themselves but, in addition, is also concerned about the spiritual condition of others. They go above and beyond their own spiritual needs and will invest their resources in the spiritual growth of someone else.


It is possible, I suppose, for one person to be at different levels of responsibility at different times. We can be Responsible in parenting, a Follower at work, and a Rebel in spiritual matters. Additionally, one can be a Responsible parent one day and a Rebellious parent the next day.

The goal for each person would be to be Responsible in all facets of their lives at all times.