February 08, 2016

Entitled

Devotion for the Week...

Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict writes a series of posts she calls What's on the Bookshelf Wednesdays, in which she shares a book from (you guessed it) her bookshelf. Some are new books, some are older and almost all of them are sewing related. A couple of weeks ago, though, she shared a book by Kristen Welch called Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. I had never heard of Kristen, but Sarah's review was quite thought-provoking, so I clicked over to Kristen's blog, We are THAT Family, to learn more. I highly recommend the blog, and spent a good bit of time there, poking around and reading posts.

I don't have the book (it's definitely on my wishlist), but in reading Kristen's blog and the posts of other bloggers who reviewed her book, it became obvious that Kristen's theory is that kids today feel entitled because we, the parents, feel entitled too. That gave me a lot to think about over the past week and a bit.

Entitled means "believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment." Very few, if any, of us would say we feel we deserve special treatment. In fact, my immediate reaction was to think "Not me!" However, Kristen sets entitlement opposite gratitude, so that every moment we complain about the things we don't have, or the job we have to do even though we hate it, and every time we get annoyed at someone for inconveniencing us, those moments are all symptoms of our feelings of entitlement. They're a sign that we feel, however subtly, that we should have everything we want and we should only have to do the things we want to do. I don't know about you, but I have to admit I've had those feelings at times, rather more often than I care to admit even.

Unfortunately, these thoughts go directly against how God wants us to think. The Bible tells us, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others" (Philippians 2:3,4). That sounds like pretty much the opposite of feeling entitled, doesn't it? 

It also sounds hard. Since reading Sarah's review of the book and then reading some of Kristen's blog, I've been noticing just how often those kinds of entitled thoughts cross my mind. It's not pretty.  We are naturally selfish creatures, and those natural tendencies do not just go away when we become Christian. If only it were that easy! 

Humility means "a modest or low view of one's own importance," which sounds much more like what God wants for me. Not that He doesn't think that I'm important, (see just how worthy He thinks we are), but He doesn't want us to have an inflated opinion of ourselves.

In humility, we value others about ourselves, which is much easier to do if we aren't stuck in a pattern of thinking too much of ourselves. With that humility, it's also easier to be concerned about the interests of others rather than always thinking about ourselves.

Thankfully, we don't have to make this change in attitude alone. In Romans 8:5, Paul wrote, "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." If we are willing to listen, the Holy Spirit will remind us when our attitudes are not humble, and when a feeling of entitlement is rearing its ugly head.
If our minds are set on what the Spirit desires, then when He prompts us to make changes in our attitudes, we will be willing to listen and, most importantly, to respond. Then we will trade feelings of entitlement for feelings of gratitude and a spirit of service to others.

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