We see it emerge all the time in our students. They “forgot” to turn in their camp permission slip on time, and we “just have to” let them come anyway. There is a conflict between the Saturday mission trip fundraiser and a game for the sport they play. We “need” to change the date of the fundraiser. After all we ARE the ones that required them to be at said fundraiser in order to go on said trip in the first place.
Perhaps it comes out in the everyday interactions with our students.They sort of barrel through life with a “you owe” me attitude.
Honestly, I see the same “issues” in my own heart.
I am selfish. I think I deserve:
- A cup of hot coffee on a bad day.
- A parking space up front when I am running late.
- An “easier” life because I “chose” ministry as my job.
Something needed to change for the cycle of selfishness to end. While whining about the apathy of the next generation I wonder if I have fed it? So many (including me) believe that this mentality of “entitlement” is what makes this generation ineffective.
Where do we begin?
1. Change Our Vocabulary:
I used to talk about sacrifice and “giving up.” That makes me feel good about all that I am doing. Instead, I started implementing the word “choice.” It used to drive me insane when I would “share” my defeats in ministry only to hear, “That’s the life you chose.” “Well, yes,” I would say, “It doesn’t make it easy.”
Here’s the thing. I did make the choice to follow the Lord down this path.That means there are consequences like trials…and blessings…but it was a choice. Let’s remind our teens the beauty in the choice to follow the Lord.
We need to teach students to ask, “How do we love others like ourselves? What does that mean?” Measuring what we say and how we say it makes us think about why we talk the way we do.
2. Change Our Thinking:
This is a hard one. This one is about constantly refocusing our thoughts on the Lord. We must understand that we merit eternal separation from God. There is nothing we are “owed.” Not a thriving ministry (whatever that even really means.) Not family members walking with the Lord. Not a great salary. Now, the Lord may give me some of these things as blessings. He has promised grace and mercy. However, it’s more like a gift on some random day of the week than Christmas morning. The presents will come, but not because they are “supposed” to. He loves us so desperately and wonderfully that He WANTS to be faithful to us. Remove the words, “deserve, owed, earned” out of your mind and mouth. Changing our perspective, gives us different Christ-centric world view, and helps us to encourage students to do the same.
3. Change Our Teaching:
Yes we need to set up places for our kids to serve. In my own children they thrive on outreach days when they can “help.” Later that evening we will return home where they fight with their siblings over touching “their stuff.” Just because they gave up an afternoon, does not make them give up themselves. Our teaching needs to be focused on the soul issue and not as much about the action. When our heart understand the vastness of Christ’s love that is undeserved we WANT to spend ourselves for him. Teach this over and again.
Ridding ourselves of what we are “owed” is a process, for adults and students. I think the first step is to stop complaining and to actually address it.