The disease is crippling North American youth, even–or should I say especially–Mennonite youth. This disease is genetic (yes, some of our parents and other ancestors have or had it), and anyone who is spiritually out-of-shape is susceptible to it in any season of life. As a new generation, we have incredible potential to be Kingdom builders, yet this self-fed disease steals our vigor and passion.
A mental list of survival needs that rivals a mother’s grocery list when she’s making a big haul. Perhaps the list looks like this.
- Three meals a day
- Eight pairs of footwear
- Four coats
- Thirty to forty outfits
- Accessories by season (ie. sunglasses or mittens)
- Clothing washed every time you wear them
- Cell phone
- A purse/ wallet
- Social Event about twice a week
- Hobby (ie. boarding or playing piano)
- Necessary equipment for above hobby
- Uncles, Aunts, Cousins, Grandparents
- Space that’s your own when you want to be alone
- Music (CDs, i-tunes etc.)
- Cash in your wallet
- Money in the bank
- Road trip once a year
Frustration is evident when any of these perceived needs go unmet. If this list looks similar to what you need to survive, then you have a mild case of entitlement. More severe cases include necessities such as the following
- New dress/shirt for every big social function (ie. wedding)
- Name brand clothes
- New wardrobe every 2-3 years
- Timmy’s/Starbucks coffee whenever out and about
- Popular friends
- Massages when you start to ache
- Dip with your veggies
- Dessert with your meals
- A cell phone case to match every outfit
- Three $300 hockey sticks
- Social event at least five nights a week
- Week-long vacations in the sunny south or exotic east
- Five-minute devotionals book
Frustration is evident when these perceived needs go unmet. People suffering from Entitlement tend to think in terms of what they do not have, and how, if, and when they can get it.
Let us look at a more accurate survival list. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” I Timothy 6:6-8 (all scripture in KJV) “But he [Jesus] answered and said, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'” Matthew 4:4
In summary, we need three things to survive: food, clothes, and God’s Word.
How do I know so much about the disease of entitlement?
I know from experience. I am in recovery, and experiencing freedom from its fatal progression. I want to pass on what I have learned to others who have the disease and yet do not realize its eternal implications. For, oh, how rampant it has become!
I give a student a prize for completing his flashcard chart and he asks, “Is that all?”
“Is that all?! Some children have hardly any rags hanging onto their frames or food in their stomachs and two candies is not enough!” I internally fume.
“I should really get a new phone case. I’ve haven’t gotten a new one since I got my phone and that was a year ago.”
“You have a phone? It’s your own? You have money to keep a plan on it? You have someone to communicate with regularly? Your case is still in one piece and doing the job?”
“I really don’t like this dress. It’s old, like, I made it two years ago.”
“You made it two years ago, and it hasn’t worn out yet? You must have a lot of dresses then. I don’t see any rips or stains.”
“After I’ve saved up a bit more, I’m gonna buy an Audi. My cars all right, but–”
“You have a car? It works? You have somewhere to go?”
“I really need to go the chiropractor again. My back has been bothering me whenever I do too much bending.”
“I have no doubt that you are in some pain, but what about the cripples in India? As the poor, they are the lowest of the low. Who helps them? Who feels their pain? Or land mine victims? ” Really.
WHAT ELSE COULD YOU WANT?!
I could relate so many more instances that I have heard in the past months. I could do surveys and tell you the odds of you being or becoming infected, but I won’t. I would rather think about the cure.
The steps are simple, the implementation difficult.
Step One: Realize what you are entitled to.
You are entitled to
The blank space was not a typo. Let me tell this story to illustrate my point.
My students are learning two-digit addition. Typically, they see problems like this one.
However, one time I gave them one like this. My student proceeded to solve it so far. Then, they raised their hand for help. “Well, what do you do here?”
I point to the space. “What do you see here?”
Bingo. “What number means nothing?”
“That’s right. What’s 7 plus 0?”
What do we deserve? Nothing. That number, by the way, is zero.
We are entitled to 0 shoes, 0 friends, 0 cars, 0 meals. We deserve NOTHING.
When your heart and mind believe this, you are ready for step two of the cure.
Step Two: Realize God’s grace.
As human sinners, we should get nothing from God. We shouldn’t even exist. Yet in His graciousness, He makes us an offer. By faith, we can become His children and live His Will.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Romans 8:15-17
Search the Bible and you will see the incredible gifts God give His children.
- Eternal Life–John 3:16
- Mansion–John 14:2
- A Crown in heaven–2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; I Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10;3:11
The time would fail me to expound on the freedom, wisdom, joy, peace, and love that He gives.
However, nowhere do I see God guaranteeing prosperity, but He tells us He’ll provide. (Luke 2:22-30) He doesn’t promise popularity. He calls us to expect persecution. (Matthew 5:10-12) Our rewards are eternal. We are entitled to nothing material on earth.
Step Three: Realize that all you have is a gift.
Everything. All that you touch, every person you speak to, every sermon you’ve heard, God gave you, because He knew–by His power–that you would have the potential to with these tools build His Kingdom and bring Him glory.
There is nothing wrong with having things in abundance. If you find yourself with more than the three necessities, God has obviously blessed you for His purpose. Even so, don’t hang on to it. Invest it, give it, and use it well. If you need a role model, a man who got it right, was Paul. Here’s his testimony.
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Philippians 4:11,12
To be rich or to be poor–both are a gift.
Step Four: Realize the power of a life of gratitude and contentment.
These two walk in hand in hand. When we give sincere thanks for what we have, we are content with what we have. In whatever state you find yourself be content. Think in terms of what you have, and you will be well on your way to a cure.
Step Five: Realize the need of other diseased people and tell them of the cure.
Entitlement continues to cripple this generation at epidemic proportions. God offers the cure. Will you be healed?