Whatever happened to good ‘ole Personal Accountability?

I just learned of a firestorm created by a millionaire entrepreneur from Australia by the name of Tim Gurner.  Gurner was asked why Millennials are not buying homes in a manner consistent with previous generations.  Gurner attributed the main reason to wasteful spending.  Gurner justified his belief when he postulated, “When I was trying to buy my first home I wasn’t buying smashed avocados for 19 bucks and four coffees at $4 each.”  To summarize Gurner’s contention, he believes wasteful spending is the major crux of the issue.

Not surprisingly, Millennials have immediately responded with a defensive posture and lamented about the difficulty their generation faces concerning purchasing real estate. They pointed to lack of high paying blue collar jobs and an escalating level of debt due to student loans.  Millennials believe there are “structured economic reasons” Millennials find themselves in comparison to their parent that places them at a economical disadvantage.

It would be foolish to disregard the legitimacy of contributing factors such as loss of high paying jobs and increasing debt due to student loans.  Yet, what about the issue concerning purchasing multiple $4 coffees and $19 for “toasted avocados.”  (I must confess I had no earthly idea what “toasted avocado” was). After “Googling” the term it appears it is a vogue sandwich which Millennials are gravitating towards.  Please keep in mind this is apparently an appetizer, not even a main entree.

The aforementioned issues, notwithstanding; what about a more compelling factor: moral choices or personal accountability.  Recently, I was embroiled in a friendly but spirited debate with a dear friend about the comments (which at the time I was not aware) made by the newly crowned Miss America.  She created an uproar herself when you opined health care is a privilege, not a right.  Our discussion delved into the debate about the proper response to individuals who find themselves without proper medical coverage.

I attempted to address the matter from a Christian Worldview that first gave priority to personal accountability.  You know, like when Bible teaches, “If anyone is unwilling to work, he shall not eat.”  One of the surest means of economic viability in American is clearly through education.  While the educational systems has it challenges it still affords those who choose to to take advantage a viable chance of reaching the cherished middle-class.  It should be without dispute if a person completes a college education or acquires a technical skill they would be able to acquire a reasonably well paying job.  Reasonably paying jobs offer “acceptable” health care as a benefit of employment.  I believe I can make that case anecdotally as well as statistically.  In fact, a recent survey by the Brookings Institute revealed a sure mean of avoiding living below the poverty line is to avoid contact with the police, avoid getting married and having children before the age of 21 and to graduate from high school.

Simply put, there is a direct correlation between making good moral/ethical decisions and deriving the proper benefits one needs to flourish in our society.  If you don’t want to be at the mercy of an employer who offers sub-standard wages then put yourself in a position where it is a reasonable expectation you can acquire a job that will provide health and dental, along with other needed or desired benefits.

Similarly, if young people want to achieve the American Dream of home ownership then they have to do what all other previous generations did.  Develop a plan as every generation has had unique challenges but every other previous generation was able to adapt and overcome.  Here is a novel concept: quit buying $19 appetizers and expensive coffees and “save” like the rest of us.

Discussing the health care issue with my colleague he attempted to “paint” my worldview as callous and “compassion-less.”  The last thing I ever want to do is NOT display compassion to those less fortunate.  My family grew up in the midst of tough times, I never forget our church collecting an offering for my family due to my father being out of work for an extended period of time.  Consequently, I have endeavored to never forgot where I come from but the Bible presents a healthy tension.  We are certainly to help the less fortunate.  That is certain and unassailable.  Yet, at the same time there is a requisite personal responsibility to be responsible for your actions.  Hence, the Biblical admonition that a person who would not work would not eat.  There is to be a negative consequence for people who display bad stewardship.

I remember while living in Chicago there was a provision in Illinois for young people who did not have access to medical care.  Every right thinking Evangelical would support this safeguard for “innocent victims” without reservation.  But Evangelicals should righteously oppose being responsible for otherwise healthy able-bodied “adults” who did not take advantages of the opportunities afforded to them.

Listen, there will be always be exception: in fact my debate partner attempted to use veterans  suffering from PTSD as an example of individuals who “fall through the crack.”  I simply reminded him there are already safeguards in place to help veterans suffering from PTSD.  Again, no perfect system but you do not “throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

Our society seems to always be ready to place the blame on “external” factors instead of looking at the first potential source of the problem: negative persona moral choices. Listen, we live in a fallen world, a world of discrimination and persecution and all other kinds of chicanery.  I get all of that and in no way am I naively believing it is easy but one thing that has been impressed upon me and I impress upon the young people I interact:  Pay no or Pay later, but you will Pay.

The challenge is to pay now with good choices, instead of living out the consequences of the bad moral choices.  Another maxim is, “when there is a will, there is a way.”  For instance, a person who does not want to incur a lot of debt from college can choose to join the military and have “Uncle Sam” finance their education or they can have work hard to secure a scholarship.  Life is tough and there is no “free lunch,” at least not for most of us.  We have to deal with the hand we have been dealt.  We have to assume responsibility for the choices we make. Period!

Bad choice: buying $19 appetizers and $4 coffees.

Good Choice: saving for a down payment on your 1st home.

Bad choice: not taking full advantage of the the educational opportunities and consequently struggling in your adult life.

Good choice: taking advantage of the educational opportunity and living in the “middle class.”

I know people will lament about my inability to appreciate all of the obstacles a person faces. All I know is our country is replete with people who when faced with a challenge, rose to meet the challenge.  In some small measure my life is indicative of such a life.

I close with the following Biblical admonition:  “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.”

The Word of God ALWAYS has the last word for me.  Maybe if did not insist upon taking God out of the conversation our lot in life would be a heckuva lot better.

I welcome your comments.  Until next Friday, Lord willing.

With much fear and trembling,

Ricky Kyles

7 Comments
  1. Rick, while reading this piece I ran through a plethora of emotions from anger to confusion!

    After realizing you wrote this piece I had to go back and place those emotions in a box and come from a different place! That place in Christ that teaches to Train Up a CHILD in the way he should go and he WILL NOT depart from on it!

    Many of adults today have failed to be good stewards, but are the first to cast out and away an entire generation. When was the last time you shared a piece of your wisdom with a generation not attached to you.

    Kids don’t instinctively come out knowing and understanding their place on the moral blanket; nor do the understand that their actions have a direct correlation to their future choices.

    It is imperative that those of us with a voice as Disciples of Christ, Christian Leaders, Influencers, Fathers, Brothers, Uncles, Cousins, Neighbors and Friends begin to work a little harder to see our Fathers Work is Done.

    Every time God gives me an opportunity to share his Word, be it of knowledge, faith or wisdom, I humble myself and seek his face and ask him to lead me into a place that will benefit his children.

    I teach about the monetary systems that govern this world as well as the structure currently in place. I talk about how to live bell w your earnings so you can walk away from a job that’s unfulfilling and not be crippled. I talk about the educational system and the mounting debt attached to earning a degree that had vast potential 20 years ago and has far less now.

    I teach about the decisions adults make that impact our natural lives everyday. In short, I try to teach them to live inside of the Kingdom of God with Kingdom Precepts and Godly Authority!

    Remembering the Word of God says “wisdom is the principle thing, therefore get wisdom, but in all thy getting get understanding.

    The WHY’s may never be answered but the tasks, paths and the way for us are made clear through the teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and in his Infallible Word; THE HOLY BIBLE.

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    • LaRusso,

      I must admit I am a bit confused. There is nothing you wrote that I disagree with and would not affirm.

      “When was the last time I shared a piece of my wisdom” is accusatory and counter to intent of the blog.

      “Begin to work a little harder” assumes a lot about my current involvement and again is counter to the intent of my blog.

      If there are objections to my thesis and my supporting argument then I am all game.

      Does not the Bible teach personal accountability?

      Everyone has challenges of some sort. The only issue is how does one choose to respond to the challenge.

      LaRusso, thanks for taking the time to respond but I remain confused as to how to understand your post.

      If you dispute one of my contentions please identify and I can gladly respond to the issue.

      One Team! One Fight!
      With much fear and trembling!
      Ricky

      Like

      • Bro I apologize if it sounds accusatory because that’s not my intention. I know you better than that. I’m was writing in general terms.

        Please forgive me if I miscommunicated

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      • Bro,

        Help me understand your reply then.

        What caused you anger? My post, if so, what parts?

        Where is Biblical reasoning not sound? How have I misunderstood, “a man who won’t work won’t eat” and the many other Biblical admonitions to be responsible and accountable for your actions like reaping what you sow.

        I wrote explicitly about “not” applying this is “innocent victims” but they will have to step up to the plate one day.

        Again, every human being is going to face some type of challenge.

        My thesis is we as a society have lost the art of personal accountability. My example regarding Millennial’s lack of home purchasing is just one example, especially in light of other frivolous spending.

        What specific points am I missing?

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      • The point where the person addresses how millennial sate spending their money.

        I spend a great deal of time addressing the perception of millennials. I am amazed at at many adults want to throw up their hands and write them off.

        That is what my initial thought were when talking about the $19 Avacado sandwich.

        I agree, we need to teach them to be more responsible with their finances, to own up to the actions, accept the consequences of their actions and understand their actions will determine their choices.

        Please forgive my misunderstanding.

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      • Oh, I am NOT writing anyone off. I am attempting to raise the consciousness and bring awareness to a proper Christian worldview.

        You and I are in 100% lockstep. I write as a sinner saved by grace and never seeking to forget that fact.

        I am especially, like you, calling this generation of adult professing Evangelicals to speak “Gospel Truth” into all areas of the Christian experience.

        There is solid data that home ownership is at a lower rate for Millennials and the person I mentioned in the article postulated it is impacted by buying $19 avocados.

        If there is disagreement then then let’s have that discussion but I reject the explanations offered by Millennials.

        My overall thesis is “bad planning now” equates to “bad life consequences later.

        Hey Brother, thanks for your humility and willingness to clear up a misunderstanding.

        Like

      • Amen! I echo that sentiment. My wife and I have hosted a MEETING OF THE MINDS over the last 30 years where we get together with former classmates and other professionals from all walks of life to discuss our current conditions and try to arrive at a reasonable solution to the problems!

        I would love for you and your wife to come out and share with us! I just asked my wife to pick a date and a venue. Let me know if you’re interested.

        Like

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