Practical Tips to Turn from Entitlement

8:51 AMHeather

So, as I stated yesterday, there is this recurring theme in my life--particularly emphasized these last few days--about dealing with entitlement.  Entitlement says "I deserve it! It's my right."  And, if we are followers of Jesus Christ, we know that the gospel rests on the fact that Jesus denied every right he ever had on OUR behalf.  Are we not called to do the same?  And, if you aren't a follower of Jesus Christ, can I just point out that a spirit of entitlement is ugly.  It seems to be self-serving.  But, it's a bitter cycle, fueled by discontent, which in the end, is actually self-defeating.  Because there will never be enough.  

As I've meditated on this call to free myself from excess, to be changed and respond to the plight of the poor, it leads to the question of HOW?  What does this look like?  How do I actually do something about it rather than just embrace the idea of it?  If you are joining me on this road, you want these answers as well.  Here's what I have for you individually.  But, these are also great ideas to do with your children.

1.  Purge.  Ask God to give you wisdom to show you what you can REALLY do without.   Bag it up and find a place to donate it where it will benefit those in need.  In fact, for the month of September, I'll make it super easy on you.  Take your clothes donations to the Church at the Cross in Grapevine.  In October, you can take toys--new and gently used.  In November, it's all about food.  This Freedom from Excess emphasis at our church will go directly to benefit the people from the apartments on Mustang Drive in Grapevine.  Our church works within the community there, to reach out to the residents who are in need.  Purging will give you a greater sense of all the excess you have.  How much you've been blessed with.  Personally, I find it a ridiculous statement on my discontent when I can bag up 4 huge trash bags of clothes (and still going) and hardly even notice anything is missing from my overflowing closets.

2.  Intentionally, be grateful.  I've been reading 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  Great read about the practice of gratitude.  This is something even a young child can grasp.  Start a list of 1000 gifts with your kids in a journal or on a large poster board you hang in the house.  Pray together, as a family, for eyes to see things to be grateful for.  Gratitude and discontent cannot coexist.

3.  Start a giving jar.  I plan to make mine today.  I intend to go to Hobby Lobby and buy a large jar (with my 40% off coupon) that I decorate.  It will sit on our kitchen desk.  And, we will look for ways, as a family, to do without in order to give more.  When we think about going for Yogurt Story, we'll opt out, and place the $12 we would have spent into the giving jar.  When we go to the movies, we'll skip the concessions.  And place the $343 (just kidding) in the giving jar.  We are seriously considering cutting our cable as a way to cut back and give us more freedom to give more.  There's a million little ways to fill up that jar.  Throw in your change or your $1 bills.  When the jar is full, my intent is that we, as a family, prayerfully decide where to send the money.

4.  Get informed.  I'm starting this process.  Just how much does my dollar stretch in the world?  What is the relative worth of the money I can spend too casually?  For instance, did you know that you can feed a homeless person a Thanksgiving meal through Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth for less than $2?  My intention is to really dive into some research on the costs of helping others.  I think it would go a long way in our family to appreciate our blessings when we realize how little it takes for us to bless others.  And, along these lines, I think there is much we can do to educate ourselves on the plight of others around the world.  In our information age, there are websites, documentaries, books and such to help us truly grasp the condition of others in the world.

5.  Shop with a cause.  I plan to grab Jen Hatmaker's book "7" as soon as possible.  I've now heard about 4 times in 3 days that it's a must read about being freed from excess and growing a passion for the plight of the poor.  But, one thing I know without reading the book is that Jen challenges others to go a step beyond being a budget shopper.  Instead, use your dollars for a cause.  Help those in poverty by buying goods that directly help the poor in the world.  One website I know of is Come Together TradingHow about doing your Christmas shopping through such vendors?  There are some amazing products on that website.  Made by those in poverty all around the world who have learned a trade to help them get out of their situation.  Or, how about some super cute pajamas from PunjammiesThe darling products are made from women who have been rescued from sex trafficking.  There's certainly more out there.  But, there a couple of  places to start.

6.  Get your hands dirty.  Volunteer.  Yep, at a homeless shelter like Beautiful Feet Ministries in Fort Worth.  If you are like me, you were kinda hoping I wouldn't go there.  Because that makes it real personal.  But, do something.  Be part of the Super Kids program through Church at the Cross.  It's an after school program on Mondays to help the children from the apartments at Mustang Drive.  There's a jillion ways to get involved in all sorts of capacities.  Sort clothes at GRACE in Grapevine.  Sort shoes at Buckner for their Shoes for Orphan Soles program.  Of course, have a party to collect new socks and shoes, and when you deliver them to Buckner, arrange to help in their warehouse.  (this leads me to the next one....)

7.  Party for a cause.  For your child's birthday parties, do a donation party instead of having the guests bring gifts.  THIS really gets to the heart of entitlement and giving in your kids.  Have guests bring new teddy bears for Bear the Burden.  They go to children who have just been removed from their homes by the authorities due to abuse or neglect.  Or, the shoes idea previously mentioned.  If you want guests to bring money--send a blank envelope with the invitation.  They can give monetarily whatever amount they want for your expressed cause, and no one has to know how much as the envelopes are all tossed into a basket.

8.   Blessings Bags.  I saw this on Pinterest and love this idea.  Time to actually DO it.  The idea is to put together gallon size baggies with all sorts of practical little gifts (think dollar store and trial sizes) and keep them in the car.  When you see a homeless person on the corner, hand them this bag.  Might I suggest you hand write a little note to place in the bag, too, telling them you did this because you are motivated by God's love and you want them to know He loves them, too?  And include a small pocket Bible?  

9.  Pray.  Stating the obvious here.  But, really make it a matter of individual, couple and family prayer to ask God to break your heart for what breaks his.  For eyes to see the bigger picture of how blessed you are and how big the needs of others are.  For wisdom to know what to do differently, how to help, how to get involved.  Pray to love him and know him more, which will naturally lead to working out your faith in more radical ways.  Decide the status quo isn't enough, and bath it in prayer to know where to go next.

My OCD would love to round this out to a top ten list.  But, this is what I have for you today.  We all have a choice to make.  We can press forward, in our materialistic world of discontent, thinking we are entitled to every bit we have and more.  We can do the minimal and give on occasion and call it a day.  Or, we can decide that THIS approach makes us discontent because we realize we have more to give, more to do, much to be thankful for.  I'd love company on this road I'm traveling, to free myself from excess, to be changed by the a Savior who loved me to death, to care for the needs of others.  Will you join me?

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