Friday, August 3, 2012

How to Halt the Entitled Generation: I Need Your Help


Ephesians 4:12 “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up”

My children are growing up as part of the “entitled generation.”  I have read several articles recently discussing this generation of youth as lazy, entitled, coddled, and narcissistic.  One article written by Brett Mccracken from relevantnetwork.com describes the entitled generation as,

“raised on the notion that we deserve things, that the government owes us something, that everything we want should be accessible and that somehow we are not responsible if we don’t end up quite as successful in life as we’d hoped.”

Several years ago a colleague and I were sharing with a group of parents about Shelterwood, the teen-counseling ministry that we worked for.  At the end of our presentation a parent asked us what we saw as the most troublesome problem facing teens today.  Thankfully my colleague answered the question, however his answer surprised many of the parents.  They expected to hear an answer of online pornography, drugs, texting while driving, or peer pressure.  Instead, he described a sense of entitlement as the number one problem facing teens today.

How does a parent raise children that are thankful for the smallest of blessings?  Is it possible in this day to raise children that view their purpose in life as serving others rather than accumulating possessions?  If they are willing to serve others will they do it to please God or to gain some sort of notoriety?  How can I do as Ephesians 4:12 says, “prepare God’s people for works of service.” 

I witnessed an impromptu class in teaching the “entitled generation” about service during a family retreat while working at Shelterwood.  All the parents and families had come to town for the weekend.  This was our time to meet, encourage, support, and get to know the families of the teenagers that lived in our care.  We were serving them right?  After dinner one night the staff were to stick around to help clean up so that the families could leave to spend some quality time with their teenage child.  One father had a different plan.  As the families began to leave for the night he began picking up tables and chairs with the rest of us.  He didn’t say anything, he just started pitching in and offering a hand.  The class began when I witnessed his two pre-teen sons jump up behind him and mimic their father’s actions.  I thought in my mind that this could not have been the first time these boys saw their father standing up to serve others.  They must have seen him helping others over and over and over again.  They desired to be a man, and from what they saw, men were servants.       

I was convicted and inspired by this lesson on preparing my kids for works of service.  I confess that many times my mind is set more on preparing my kids for college, a good job, or responsibility, rather than serving others.  I often find myself losing sight of God’s mission of service for my life.  I find myself desiring money, possessions, and notoriety.  Like the lesson I witnessed first hand has taught me, the best way to halt the entitled generation is to be a servant myself. 

I have been challenged to say to my children, “come on, I need your help” when I have opportunities to serve others.  I hope that when my boys think of “manhood”, they picture a servant who is quick to pitch in, take out the trash, and stack up the tables and chairs.


Start the conversation below


In what ways can a family serve together?

How have you taught your children that serving others is important?

What are some other ways to Halt the Entitled Generation?”   


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