by Pastor Tim Burt
Proverbs 22:6 (NLT2) says, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”
If you have children, you can remember back to your first newborn and how absolutely dependent they were upon you for everything. That reality hit Renee and I the first day we brought Stephanie home from the hospital. Life was no longer about Renee and I and want we wanted. We had this new little girl who needed us for every little thing. It was our assignment to help her grow up learning to take care of herself as well as to make good decisions for her life. This was the beginning of a slow but wonderful course and season of helping her grow from infancy to adulthood.
As she grew and matured, we taught her how to do things for herself. We also taught her to make good decisions. We were teaching her how to one-day become independent of us, but never independent of God. This meant that over the years, things we did for her, she had to learn to do for herself. This included making provision for herself. We never let any of our children grow up with a sense of entitlement. We taught them that what they could expect from life was what they worked toward—coupled with their dependency and faith in God’s grace to help them.
Behavioral issues rooted in entitlement are often formed in children who have not a)been taught to do things for themselves, b)who have not been taught to accept responsibility for their actions, and c) who have not been taught and given the chance to make and become accountable for their own decisions.
The natural entitlement that they did have a right to when they were infants and small children becomes an unhealthy entitlement of leaning on their parents and others far beyond the time that they should. Smothering, controlling, and micro-managing children can inhibit their maturity toward independence and will likely create a dysfunctional sense of entitlement. They become used to someone doing everything for them. They become used to provision always being provided. Many get used to someone else making every decision for them. This could lead them to behaving as though the world and everyone in it owes them and that they should be taken care of. Can any spouse, aging parent, company, or even government truly live up to those expectations? Of course not—nor should they! Entitled children will eventually grow up to feel that God and this world have failed them and blame will become their game. Does this sound familiar to the world we presently live in?
The flip side of this could also be disastrous. Give children total independence from a young age without guidance, discipline, and boundaries and you will also create a dysfunctional child that has learned to run wild. They will become unmanageable. Proverbs 29:15 NLT says, “To discipline and reprimand a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child.” I have seen a great many parents throw up their hands in frustration, disgust, and hopelessness over the child they allowed to become unruly. Because of their fear of making mistakes or fear of their children’s rejection from not liking discipline, they let obvious wrong behavior go on! They will become the parent of the child described in Proverbs 19:26 NLT “Children who mistreat their father or chase away their mother are a public disgrace and an embarrassment.”
Kids don’t like discipline but they will get over it. They won’t die even though they’ll act like they might! Proverbs 23:13 NIV says, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.” This verse refers to effective discipline of some kind—effective being the key word! Although spanking has been demonized, it can be used if done properly for a short season. To do it properly, you must have zero tolerance for yourself doing it out of anger or inappropriately. If you don’t like spanking, it’s going to take other methods that will only work with steadfast consistency. I suggest watching “Super Nanny” as it’s one of the best helps to parents I’ve ever seen. You can learn to discipline your children in a right way. She is a masterful mentor.
Mentoring your children and teaching them how to be responsible, share work loads, keep a good attitude, make decisions, and keep a Christ-centered attitude of love is God’s way. Teaching them to put forth their best effort while leaning on the grace of God to help them in their weaknesses will help them succeed throughout their life. They will not grow up undisciplined or with an attitude of entitlement, but with a healthy work ethic while depending on God to direct and help them. This is best case scenario—especially when you have helped them develop a sincere and deep faith that God loves and desires to help them. They will make the effort to live a productive life using their skills while depending on God’s grace.
God does want us to grow up to be independent enough to learn to make our way though life but without ever being independent of Him. He wants us always to walk in the revelation of Jesus’ words of John 15:15 “…without me you can do nothing.” He entitles us to be dependent upon Him. He teaches us to have that kind of entitlement mentality in our faith. Not that He is a magician or a genie, but that He is the true and living God who cares for and will help us in every aspect of our life. We see this in Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV “…”Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” And in Psalm 54:4 NIV “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.
Let’s build children that contribute, not take from this world, and that partner with God and contribute to His plan and purpose in the earth. Can you imagine being in life and business partnership with anyone better? Do this and you will have “directed your children on the right path!”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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