Recently, I have had conversations with two individuals who were the victims of childhood abuse. The scars from these events have caused lifelong pain and lasting confusion regarding their true identity and value.
There are many types of abuse: physical, verbal and emotional, but there is another category of abuse (in my opinion) which, though never really referred to as such, is rampant in today’s society, that being the abuse of entitlement.
The motivations can be good: the desire to give our children a better life than we had, or possibly not so good: a form of bribery or appeasement to bring about a momentary change in behavior without a lasting change of heart. But, whatever the motive, when we provide for our children all of the creature comforts and the latest in fashion and technology without a sense of personal effort or responsibility what we are really saying to that child is: “Your immediate wants are more important than the needs of others.” This not only skews their sense of reality, but also sets them up for future struggles both emotionally and financially.
When this child enters the work force, it’s doubtful their entry level salary will keep up with the life to which they’ve grown accustomed. If this lesson isn’t learned quickly, massive personal debt can certainly follow. This attitude of entitlement can also effect their personal relationships, even their marriage, expecting their spouse to cater to their every whim will only serve to add to the stress load. And thirdly there’s the greater risk of having wrong sense of identity, thinking who we are and how much we are worth has everything to do with what we possess.
The reality is this, our value comes from God, who lavishes us with a true and lasting love. Our purpose is not found in having others serve us, but in serving others, even the “least of these.” And our hope is not found in the treasures of this world which will rust, rot or erode, but in our relationship with Creator God.
As parents, our job is our children with true love, reflecting the nature of Christ Himself to our children. A nature, which teaches us to serve others, to enjoy the work for which we were created and to appreciated that which we’ve been given, even…if it’s a 20 year old sedan with a tape deck.