Life Skills Self-Management

Burdens and Responsibilities

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There’s a line we each must figure out in life. The line defines us in more ways than we realize. Our manhood maturity rides on this line. So do our relationships with others. Our job success or failure rests on this line.  Get things right, and life moves in a forward direction. Get things off regarding this line and all you know what can break loose.

What’s the line?

The line is between responsibilities and burdens.  

Responsibilities can be defined as things you are to do; for yourself primarily and those you are in a covenant relationship with. 

Burdens are things you were never meant to carry on your own. They are beyond anyone’s human ability to bear alone. 

The challenge is knowing what’s a responsibility and a burden. 

When young guys enter their warrior years (18-30), having left their sometimes tumultuous adolescence, the lines of what now becomes their responsibilities can be confusing.  What’s on my plate now compared to when I lived at home with my parents? 

And, what are burdens? Young men often over-extend themselves, wanting to prove they can handle more of their emerging manhood, more of life. 

Here’s a jumbled list of things that are responsibilities and burdens.  Sort this list by what you think are your manhood responsibilities and which you consider burdens.

Moving to a new apartment

Rent payment on time 

Buying your first car

Grocery shopping

Dirty dishes

Handling anxiety

Getting laid off

Doing laundry

Cleaning the bathroom

Overcoming a porn addiction

Finding auto insurance

Fuel for your truck


Making social connections

Being a loyal friend

Seeking God in His Word

Handling your mom’s unexpected death

An argument with your girlfriend

Getting enough sleep


Learning to listen to the Holy Spirit

Understanding what healthy sexuality looks like

Fighting depression

Clothes shopping

Bike accident

Remembering your sister’s birthday

Asking a girl out on a date

Sexual purity during dating

Proposing to a woman

Arrested for drunk driving

Habitual masturbation

Confessing your sins


Building iron sharpens iron relationships

Finding a mentor

Getting a haircut


Scheduling a dental appointment

Maintenance on your truck

Okay, the list seems endless.  Which of those made it to your responsibility list? Which do you consider burdens you cannot carry alone?

I recall heading off to university. Life was good for about a week until I realized all my underwear was dirty. Frankly, I had never done laundry on my own growing up. I remember calling my mom to figure out how to run a coin-operated washing machine!

There were things on that list I thought I could handle on my own. You know, to prove I’m a man. Unfortunately, I quickly learned they were burdens I desperately tried to keep a secret. Did I ever struggle!  My insecurities led to depression. My misaligned view of what to do with my sexuality got the best of me. Shame buried me. I had to have been the only guy struggling.  Right?

There’s a passage in the Bible that talks about responsibilities and burdens. Galatians 6:1-5.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

A transgression is a sin or tough situation you are in. Something that is weighing you down. They are burdens. You either did “stupid” like drunk driving or going too far with your girlfriend and now you are in a jam. Burdens also come out of nowhere. You get t-boned at an intersection. That gnawing sore on your back is actually skin cancer. You didn’t ask for it, but life is now in a major tailspin.  

Burdens. Do you, as a man, buck it up and handle these on your own?  Do you keep the porn addiction a secret?  Do you fake it that you have life figured out when deep inside you are falling apart?  

When I’m weighted down with burdens I need help. I need to drop the masks, and with courageous vulnerability ask others to come alongside me. Sometimes our burdens are obvious. As much as we try to tell everyone we’re fine, they can see through us. In those cases, isolation is the Enemy’s tool to perpetuate our burdens and keep us weak in our faith.

Responsibilities. I would hope the things on the list above that are your responsibility are obvious. If you’ve moved out and your mom is still coming over to do your laundry, clean your toilet, and do your dishes, dude, you have a serious problem!  If your girlfriend is constantly picking up after you, you’re not looking for a wife; you’re looking for a mother.  If you’re out of clean underwear, that’s no one’s fault but your own. 

I will add this regarding responsibilities; don’t become a lone ranger. Life is far more than doing, it’s about being. Relationships can foster healthy manhood maturity. Communicate with others. Let them in on how your week’s going. Ask about their week. One of the greatest signs of a young man maturing is when he asks me how he can pray for me. I love mentoring young warrior-aged guys! It’s so exciting to see them grow from insecure, unsure, post-teen guys into confident, able-bodied, young men who have an ever-increasing clarity of their identity in Christ. 

Their lines of what are their responsibilities and what are burdens become increasingly defined.

On that list above is “finding a mentor”.  Did you put that on your responsibility list or the burden list?  Or maybe you put it on some other list; “the I don’t know what to do with finding a mentor cause I don’t think I need one” list.

Here’s what I know for guys who find success in their manhood maturity; finding a mentor.

No joke. I may be pro-mentoring (cause Jesus is), so you might consider me biased, but it’s true; guys who intentionally seek out a mentor mature far more than guys who don’t.

A healthy mentoring relationship never enables, but it helps a guy clarify his responsibilities and burdens.  

So, what burdens are you carrying solo that you need to ask for help with?  Seek out spiritually healthy relationships where you can be courageously vulnerable, and, clean your own toilet!

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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