Irresponsibility. That’s one of the chief problems encountered in counseling. Did I say in counseling? In life in general!

But if you find that there are many who are irresponsible in ordinary life, imagine how many irresponsible counselees there must be! Multiply the number by . . . . , and you’ll probably have it.

People are irresponsible and, by their actions, train their children to be irresponsible too. It can soon become a family trait. They make irresponsible purchases and wonder why they are in debt up to their armpits. They are irresponsible at work and wonder why they get fired. They are irresponsible with things they own, and wonder why they deteriorate so soon. Irresponsibility is rife among the populace for sure!

Like James’ double-minded man who is unstable in all his ways, irresponsibility is a way of life affecting all one does. The irresponsible counselee leaves things around, and wonders who took them. He doesn’t have his car serviced and has to pay large bills down the road when the motor blows up. He cannot be trusted to fulfill a task at church—even though he volunteered to do it. He is in trouble on every front.

How do you deal with irresponsibility?

Since it is a life-dominating sin, it pervades all one does. That means a total restructuring of his lifestyle is necessary. He must recognize the overall pattern, desire to change it, and determine how to live differently in every slice of the pizza of life. Slice the pizza into the following pieces, if you will: physical life, church life, work/school life, social life, family life (and/or as many other slices as you fancy). Then, probe in each area to see how irresponsibility is affecting the counselee.

Having gathered sufficient data, set him to work on learning to handle life in each area in a responsible way. Of course, this will take time, effort and heavy coaching on your part—at least at the beginning. That is a sketch of the basic counseling program—there is no way to get into details in a blog!

We might add this, however: don’t even begin to undertake this vast task unless the counselee

  1. recognizes his problem
  2. is repentant over it
  3. genuinely wants to change
  4. promises to (and does) work responsibly at the homework you give him
  5. and, you are willing to undertake the task—which usually is formidable.

As you can see, irresponsibility—which leads to many complicating problems that he may have to resolve along the way—can be devastating. These may have to be cleared up as you proceed. As you counsel him, you will have to be constantly on the lookout for his irresponsible ways of dealing with irresponsibility. That is a dilemma you are certain to face.

Best wishes as you undertake the task. You’ll need all the help that God’s Word provides. Be sure to call upon the Spirit to enable you to use it wisely. Then dig in for the long haul!


Check out our online course, Counseling Problems taught by Donn Arms!

Books related to dealing with problems:

  1. Competent to Counsel 
  2. The Christian Counselor’s Manual 
  3. How to Help People Change  

The Christian Counselor’s New Testament and Proverbs, translated by Jay Adams

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