Sunday, November 1, 2009

Entitlement vs. Suffering

You know, I was joking (kind of) about the boys last night who came trick-or-treating at my house and looked at me liked I'd gypped them. They seemed to think I owed them lots of candy. I've been thinking on that because I see this same attitude in some of the adults who come to Living Water wanting help.

I've always said that I have a great vantage point at the age of 53. I know how hard my grandparents worked. They worked hard from sunup to sundown. HARD work. Physical work. People didn't have a long life span then. My grandparents were from the lower class and my mom remembers when she found out they were poor. She didn't know until other kids in their farming community were making fun of them--about their family having 8 kids and pointing out the kind of clothes they wore.

I know how hard my parents worked. (And, by the way, they worked their way up to middle class.) Their generation wanted to make their childrens' lives easier. They wanted to give them the gift of a college education---something most of them never had. I know my dad held down 2 jobs most of my life---sometimes three. I never resented that my dad wasn't home in the evenings--in fact, I can still taste the excitement I felt when he came home at night. I knew he was working for us as a family. I'm sure that attitude came from my mother who never complained about how many hours he worked. In fact, as soon as my brothers were old enough, they had to help him with that 2nd job.

I also know how much work I had to do, or was expected to do, as a child. We couldn't go out to play on Saturdays until the house was spotless. I was cooking for the family by the time I was 13 because my mom had begun working outside the home. It was expected that we would get jobs in high school and pay for our own necessities and gas for our cars. We were also trained in helping others--giving our time and resources to help those in need. I also watched my parents take care of their parents as they aged.

Do you see how much less was demanded of each generation? My grandparents' families wouldn't have survived if everyone didn't pitch in with the farm work. The same was true with my mom's family as she was growing up--cows had to be milked and hay had to be baled. I had to clean house and cook. It seems every generation has wanted to do more and more for their children. I know I did. I didn't always have the money to spoil them much, but that was probably for the good and I didn't even realize it. I would have if I could have, though.

I'm just wondering if we've led our kids in the wrong direction? Have we led this next generation to expect even more--while we expect even less of them? Do they think they deserve the best to the point that they demand it? Even watching HGTV frustrates me. You see young families who aren't content in the home they live in because "it's not big enough now that we have another child." I know my mom had 3 sisters. All 4 girls shared a room----and a BED! So...having another baby now means you need another 1000 sq. ft.?

I guess I'm just encouraging you young moms out there to please be careful. Don't teach your children they deserve---ANYTHING! Teach contentment. Teach gratefulness. Teach responsibility. Bless your children with a godly heritage.
"But godliness with contentment is great gain." I Timothy 6:6

I just got home from church and as we sang, "Knowing You," I was struck with the heart of this message: "to know you in your suffering..." That part of the verse comes from Philippians 3:10, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death..."

Paul Burleson used to teach that this verse is a cycle--we know Christ...and because of that we experience the power of his resurrection...and then we fellowship in his sufferings...which causes us to know him more...and on and on and on...

We don't want our children to suffer. Lindsey & I were talking about this the other night. What a big, great God to allow us to suffer. He doesn't just lavish gifts on us. He knows that would harm us. He allows us to suffer. Suffering causes us to know him more. It also builds our character--like James tells us. It makes us stronger people, able to withstand attacks of the enemy. Will your children be surprised if they have to suffer? Are we really making their lives easier by giving so many gifts and advantages to them? Or is God's example as a father the right one after all?


Lindsey said...

Amen! I couldn't have said that better. I want to give our kids good gifts, but I also don't want them growing up spoiled rotten brats. I'd rather give them the gift of developing character than a Wii or PlayStation (not that those are bad by the way, just something we've chosen NOT to afford). I sure hope we're doing our job!

Duso Delights said...

Carl and I have pondered over this question? Did we give our girls too much? We did not make them get summer jobs because we wanted them free to do the church stuff. We did not make them get jobs during school because we wanted them to make good grades. We thought we were doing the right thing, but we have come to the conclusion that making them help with their car payment, clothes, and stuff would have prepared them for the shock of being an adult who has to work to have money.

Mary Burleson said...

My thoughts exactly. (I love reading your blog posts.)

I've been in the corporate world for over ten years now and there's definitely an entitlement attitude in the 20's and 30's employees. Did you know there are even manager seminars on how to adjust your managerial style to accommodate these employees because (you are taught) that if you don't, they'll just quit and go down the road and get a better job for more money where they can do what they want. And as managers we are told that we need to give them what they want and feel like they're entitled to. All of this was taking place a couple of years ago.

Things have probably changed since the economy has crashed lately. Everyone is losing their jobs. Maybe that will be a wake-up call to these young people. Just my thoughts...
Mary B.