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This fall we have been looking at The Parable of the Sower to learn secrets Jesus reveals to us that are useful for discipling our kids. This month we have been discussing the seed that fell among the thorns and was choked. Jesus reveals that the thorns represent ‘worries of life’ and ‘the pursuit of wealth.’ One of the reasons wealth becomes an idol for many people and hinders them spiritually is because they struggle not just with a love of money, but a sense of entitlement.
One of the parenting books I have loved and recommend on my website is Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned That Saying No Can Lead to Life’s Biggest Yes. The book is written by Kristen Welch, blogger at wearethatfamily.com, and I had the privilege to interview her about her thoughts on entitlement and more about her book and ministry.
Kristen, tell us a little about yourself, your family, your blog, and your ministry.
I’m a wife of nearly 30 years and mom to 3 amazing kids…two are young adults: 23, 21 and our youngest is 16. I don’t blog as much these days as most of my attention is focused on being the CEO of Mercy House Global. Mercy House Global is a non-profit that empowers vulnerable families with opportunities that create hope. It was birthed in 2010 and launched while I was a full time blogger.
As you wrote in your book, the ‘American Dream’ has become all about getting more and more stuff and greater status rather than having a hard work ethic in order to provide for your family. Because entitlement is so pervasive and normalized in our culture, it’s easy to overlook even our own entitled mentalities. What are some ways that we, even as Christian parents, struggle with entitlement?
I think there are simply too many to name. Maybe what ways do we NOT struggle with entitlement? In our heavily filtered, instant culture that is ruled by a selfie-mentality, it has invaded every area.
How can we stand against these mindsets of entitlement and be countercultural so that we can better serve the Lord and be a good model for our children?
I recently read that the biggest enemy to our children choosing to follow Jesus isn’t what we did or didn’t teach them in our homes. It is hypocrisy. Our children are watching if we are who we say we are. Do we do in secret what we tell the world we publicly do?
What are some ways we can help prevent our younger children from becoming entitled in the thoughts and attitudes of their hearts?
I love normalizing a counter-cultural lifestyle. There are so many beautiful ways we can do this through hospitality, serving and loving our neighbors and caring for the vulnerable. These aren’t great ideas for the “called”; we are commanded to live them out.
When we notice our older children seeming ungrateful or focusing too much on having the nicest clothes and wanting the latest fads, how can we help them become aware of their sense of entitlement and take steps to change their hearts?
We don’t have to teach our kids how to compare themselves to others. This is a natural progression of being exposed to people who have more. We do have to expand our world so that equally, we are exposing our children to people who have less. This is where perspective is born. If we live in an echochamber and surround ourselves with everyone who lives like we do, we won’t have anyone else to compare ourselves to.
How has your family’s ministry, Mercy House, helped your kids to be more content and grateful?
It made being a world changer normal. We aren’t a special family in any way; we are very typical. From an early age, caring for vulnerable people became a normal way of life for us and that changed us at our very core. We learned how to love people where they are and it has impacted my young adults and teens in profound ways. Today, they care about others because it’s what they know and love.
Please share with us how families can get involved by serving or supporting Mercy House.
It takes a lot of resources to empower people. We are a 501c3 non-profit and we depend on the generosity of the body of Christ to fund our work. If you’re local (near Houston, Texas) please come volunteer with us. One of the ways we serve the vulnerable is by creating jobs for the marginalized. Those jobs create ethically-made products. Shopping is a great way to help.
Thank you, Kristen, for sharing with us about your book and ministry! I loved hearing how your adult children now care so much about others because they grew up serving and loving the vulnerable through your family’s ministry. May the Lord continue to expand Mercy House to bring more hope to women and children around the world. Thank you for inspiring us Mamas to teach our kids to be grateful and love others well.
For more information on Kristen and her books, check out wearethatfamily.com For ways to get involved with Mercy House, including service projects with your kids and purchasing jewelry and other items that support vulnerable women and children, check out mercyhouseglobal.org.