Friday, May 25, 2012

Entitlement thinking

According to news reports this week one Washington DC lawmaker is considering a proposal that would require insurance companies to cover people up to 31 years of age on their parent's insurance coverage.  Are you kidding me?  Those parents would never get that "child" to move out of the basement.  By the time I was 31 I had been married for 13 years, served a four year enlistment in the Navy, had two children, was working a job in a factory and serving as a bivocational pastor.  At what point does this congressman think it's the proper age for a person to grow up and provide for their own needs?  Before you begin thinking I'm ranting against the Democrats who seem to support a lot of entitlements, the congressman who is proposing this is a Republican.  I'm sharing this to illustrate that the entitlement mindset exists on both sides of the aisle.  We have a growing number of people in this country who believe that the government exists to provide a nanny state to solve all of life's problems, and we have a growing number of politicians who will provide whatever entitlements it takes to ensure their re-election.

Of course, the purpose of this blog is not political, and now that my little rant about entitlement thinking is completed, let me suggest that same mindset exists in many churches, and especially in smaller churches.  Churches claim they want a pastor who will help their church grow when in reality most of them want a chaplain who will tend to the needs of the flock.  In too many churches pastors are running around trying to take care of all the needs of the church while the congregation sits back and evaluates how well he or she is doing and pointing out the times when the pastor failed to call on them in their time of need.  And, while the pastor is tending to the needs of the congregation, some are complaining to one another about the lack of growth in their church and suggesting that perhaps it's time they begin to look for a pastor who will be able to attract new people.

To make matters worse, not only is the church not attracting new people, they are losing some of the older members because "the pastor isn't feeding us spiritually."  They are going to look for another church where they can be fed.  I cannot tell you the number of times as a judicatory leader that people have told me that. Everytime I hear that I have an image come into my mind of a nest full of baby birds, no feathers, unable to fly, who stretch their necks up so their mother can drop a worm into their open mouths.  I want to ask them, "Can't you feed yourself?  Are you not spiritually mature enough at this point in your life that you can feed yourself spiritually?"  Yes, the pastor has a role to play in your spiritual development, but at some point you have to take responsibility for your own spiritual growth.

By the way, those who complain about the lack of numerical growth in the church, how many people have they brought into the church or the Kingdom of God since the pastor has been there?  Most born again Christians will never lead one other person to Christ in their lifetimes, but many of them will complain because the pastor isn't growing the church.

This mindset is nothing more than entitlement thinking by people who see the church as "their" church and the pastor as "their" family priest who has been hired to meet "their" needs.  Such people want a spiritual nanny state that will solve all their problems while asking nothing in return.  This kind of thinking is destroying our nation, and it will destroy the church as well.

As a nation we need leaders like JFK who challenged us to "Ask not what our country can do for us, but what we can do for our country."  We in the church need the same kinds of leaders who will issue the same challenge to us.  I'm sorry entitlement thinkers, but the world does not revolve around you and neither does the church.  It is not all about you.  Jesus made it clear that the Christian life was a call to service, not one of ease.  Jesus said we need workers in the field, not scorekeepers in the pews.

Both our nation and our churches need people who will roll up their sleeves, begin to solve their own problems instead of waiting on someone else to do it for them, and who will select leaders who won't promise to care for all their needs but who will lead them to a better place and give them the tools to prosper and be a blessing to others.

No comments: