Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The entitlement mindset

Recently, while on vacation, I witnessed a young boy of about eight years old screaming and crying because he had not been the winner of a costume contest. This kid had lost it! He was out of control. To make things worse, his mother just sat there letting him act out in public. I mumbled to my wife, "There's a kid who's going to know a lot of disappointment in life," while she was trying to get me to be quiet.

Children are now being raised by helicopter parents who hover over their kid ensuring that he or she never falls down, always wears a helmet, never hears the word no, and gets everything his or her little heart desires. On the sports field everyone gets a participation award, and schools put smiley faces on homework instead of grades. We wouldn't want to hurt their self-esteem. They may not be able to read their graduation diploma, but at least they'll feel good.

Now that we've taught little Johnny and Mary that they are entitled to anything they want we should not be surprised at any demands they make. You've probably read about the recent million student march that demanded free college tuition and student loan forgiveness. In their mind, an education is a right and making people pay for their education denies them that right.

 It's a shame they weren't raised by my parents who told me more than once, "Society doesn't owe you anything. If you want something you have to work and earn it." When I got my driver's license and wanted a car all I had to do was get a job and buy it. I wasn't entitled to a car, and nobody was going to buy one for me unless I bought it myself. So, I worked all through high school so I could afford to buy a car. There is a certain dignity to earning the things you want in life rather than waiting for someone else to provide everything for you.

There is a very simple way to avoid student loan debt. We need to be teaching our children is that student loans should be avoided at all costs, and the best way to do that is to work and pay your way through school. Don't lay around all summer playing video games and spend your spring break laying out on some beach. Get a job. Have some dignity about yourself. Go to school part time and pay for your education as you go. That will help you grow up and keep you out of student loan debt. And by the way, you are not entitled to a college education. If you want a college education, then you pay for it.

To help you understand where I'm coming from, I didn't decide to go to college until I was in my mid-thirties. I was married with two children, working in a factory and pastoring a church. Working full-time I could only go to school part time, but that allowed me to cash-flow my education. By the time I eventually finished my education I had three degrees and never borrowed a dime for any of them.

Now that I'm off that soapbox let me say that unfortunately that same entitlement mindset exists in our churches as well. People leave the church because "they are not being fed." They leave because their feelings get hurt. A lady called me once and said she just didn't think she and her husband could attend their church any longer because she didn't like the way their pastor dressed. After 15 years in a judicatory role I should not be surprised at anything I see in churches, but I continue to be surprised at the pettiness and childishness I see in supposedly mature Christian adults.

Until we recognize that it's not all about us our churches are never going to function as God intended. People are going to hell while we argue over the color of carpet we're going to install in the sanctuary and whether or not the daycare should use the crayons in the Sunday school rooms.

In tomorrow's post I'll share the mindset we need to have rather than an entitlement mindset.

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