Serving in the Age of Entitlement
Several years ago, I heard the story of Katie, an eighteen-year-old Senior, who was homecoming queen and senior class president at her Nashville High School. During Christmas break, she did a short mission trip to Uganda, where she witnessed the need for orphaned children to receive love and care. After graduation, she returned to Uganda and created a ministry to serve and care for these orphans. As I read her story, I was amazed at her passion for God and her selfless service at such a tender age.
But the more I reflected on her story, I wondered…am I instilling a servant’s heart in my children?
Parenting today is challenging and every stage comes complete with its own difficulties. In all truth, I have had more than my fair share of overwhelming moments. Some days, I barely have time to get my children to school and home, let alone worry about creating Godly virtue in them. And yet, I have learned that if I do not intentionally develop their character, I allow them to be unintentionally carried away by this world; and this world does not have the Christian values and beliefs that I want them to emulate.
In a world focused on entitlement and self-gratification, children need to understand that God is the true fulfillment. At Covenant, we believe it is vital to develop our students’ hearts for a broken world and to nurture servant hearts in them to combat the world of entitlement in which they live.
We strive to do this in several ways:
- We help students understand their place in the world. They are here for a purpose greater than just themselves. God has given them the privilege to make a difference in this world by being a part of God’s army. Serving as a collective group breaks down entitlement and transfers the power of “me” to the power of “us.”
- We instruct students on godly character traits, such as compassion, humility, kindness, and empathy. This helps students look outside themselves and seek to understand the feelings and experiences of others. We also stress Bible stories where God used children, like Josiah and Samuel, so that our students realize that they can make a difference no matter their station in life or cultural context they find themselves in.
- We provide quarterly service projects in which students have the opportunity to help and serve others. Prior projects have included Gifts for Guatemala, Operation Christmas Child, Humble Area Assistance Ministries, Houston Food Bank, the Village Learning Center, In Kids, and helping the local community during times of flooding. Through these opportunities, students usually obtain at least 80 hours of service, becoming the hands and feet of Christ.
- We provide family service projects, where students and parents work together to build bonds of joint service in the family and in the larger community areas.
Creating servant hearts is a way of life and one of the best ways to combat an attitude of entitlement. So what can we do as parents?
- Don’t be shy about saying “No.” Sounds easy but with the many demands of work, home life, activities, and children, it is easy for the No to get lost in compromise and become Yes especially when we are weary and tired. In combating entitlement, however, certain times simply demand a No even if it means a battle with our children or that our children may not like us for a few days.
- Start young and create a spirit of service in your children by including them when you serve others. For instance, if you take a family a meal, have your children help you prepare and deliver it.
- Start with small acts of service. Not all service is “big” like what Katie did. God often calls us to serve in small ways, so provide opportunities for your children, such as picking up toys after center time, passing out papers for the teacher, and opening the door for others. No act of kindness is ever too small. Even minor acts have a ripple effect.
- Praise your children when they show a servant’s heart. This helps to reinforce the godly value and stands against the current culture, which values entitlement.
- Be honest about service with your children. Unfortunately, not everyone is always thankful for service. Just because our children do not receive the outcome they expect does not mean they should stop serving. They have an audience of one – God Himself -and He appreciates their service.
- Follow through on commitments. Service is not always easy, comfortable, or convenient. Preparing them for this begins when our children are young. If they make a commitment, teach them to follow through even if it is not convenient. This prepares them for a time when God might call them to do something hard or uncomfortable; they have learned to persevere.
Little by little, our children’s hearts are transformed to servant hearts and they succumb less to a culture of entitlement. Little by little, they start to impact the world around them, becoming the hands and feet of Christ. Little by little, they reveal God’s glory to this world, and isn’t that what parenting is about?
By: Covenant Staff