Entitlement: the pipeline out of faith.
One of the richest things about being an African American in America, is to sit around older people and to hear about the stories of how we as a people have overcome. A few months ago I went riding around with my grandparents and they showed me where they grew up. I’ve long heard the stories about growing up just a hill over from the famed “dynamite hill” (dynamite Hill is where many of the affluent black people lived in Birmingham during the civil rights movement, and was frequently targeted by the KKK with dynamite in attempts to scare and often kill those affluent families). I heard the stories about how they never knew that they were poor, but looking back they were poor indeed. I heard the stories about how much fun they had as children but I had never laid eyes on where they lived. Inspite of growing up in the same metroplitan area, I had no clue where their famed stomping ground was. I, for years, imagined small houses but I could have never imagined how tiny their homes were. To imagine that 6 children 2 parents and a grandmother lived in that teeny tiny 3 room home is a nightmare. Yet they overcame. These aren’t foreign stories, but yet they were grateful. Not only were they grateful, they were faithful to God. The incredible happened, on the regular. They saw miracles happen in their finances and in their pantries daily. As they all grew up in poverty, they grew out of poverty. All of them can fit their childhood homes in their new homes a few times over.
With the money came a nasty bi-product, to the next generation: entitlement. How dare we? How dare we feel entitled to something that was once not our reality. How dare we forget the sacrifices and the fervent prayers to faithful God for the things that we take fro granted or woudn't even entertain in our day to day lives. The danger in being entitled is that you forget to tip your hat to God, because you’re not accustomed to any struggle. You didn't have to spend hour in prayer begging God to make ends meet that were seemingly miles apart. You didn't have to pray that God would give you the gifts to make something out of nothing, and sew together a wardrobe for a family of 9. So we thank God for less and less.
A trend is born, the more we own the less we depend on God. This very statement grieves me, but it doesn't have to be the law. After all David was a man after the heart of God, and he was king, clothed in riches and and dignity, but none of that hindered his praise, including and upity wife.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
Maslow's hierachy of needs chronicles human needs from the bottom to the top. When you don't have your bottom needs such as food, and shelter, you don't think about love and belonging. You begin think about love and belonging when you're not worried about where your next meal is coming from. Then your humanity begins to realize that it needs someone to love. Once you get love then your self esteem starts screaming, "Who am I?" "Am I important?" and it has to feed into the need to be someone. Once you decide that you are someone, you begin to be on a search to make your someone, larger than life. We start seeing rappers refer to themselves as gods.
We start seeing people becoming obessed with themselves and who they are, that they forget who made them. Self esteem and self actualization is not a bad thing. Actually it's good, but when your personal focus become your persona, we can always expect you to be on the way to spiralling out of control in some area or another. Why is this? I think Richard Smallwood said it best:
When he wrote the song center of my Joy, he was in a season of depression. As he worked through that he found that focusing on God, created joy. Keeping him at the center of his life helped him stay on top. In the event you don't know Richard Smallwood is regarded as a living Gospel legend, who has written songs that have transcended plenty of lines. Even in despair, Christ was at the center of his existence. When we lean and depend on him, the barriers are not impossible to penetrate
As time progressed my family had the bottom 3 needs and they were happy. They survived and later began to thrive, but they were satisfied with Jesus alone, and contentment in him was all they needed. When you have hardly any possesions you're going either lean on the almighty or substance, or you're going to find something else to depend on. What we find when depend on other things the satifcation and the gratification is always fleeting, but the benefits of walking intently with the Lord are lasting.
Something shifted with their children and grandchildren began to tap into the top 2, and if we’re not careful we will spend our entire existence trying to tap into something that we can’t tap into without God. But because the first 3 came with no struggle we didn’t learn to depend on him for the basic needs, and so most of us think we have to do everything on our own at the top level, this going unfulfilled. That is the trajedy of entitlement. We didn't have to depend on an almighty God to provide what was already there, and so now we are seeking higher needs that can't be tapped into without the Lord, and we see depression running rampant, mental breakdowns all over the place, and chaos abounding. Don't get me wrong. I am not one of those mental health deniers. I've seen shrinks myself, I'm not ashamed of it because faith without works is dead. If you're wondering where the strength to perservere comes from it comes from the Lord. That same joy that Richard Smallwood was talking about
I understand the plight of the entitled, but we no longer have an excuse. We simply just need to turn back to God. All these theories on how to live best life, our founded in walking with him. You can try to find purpose by yourself, but you won't. It's not about you. Your purpose isn't about you. Your life isn't about you. Your life tool is about God and how you can serve and others. You'll find fulfillment in walking your gifts, and they will open doors that you've been trying to open for years.
We search for years to find fulfillment. The door to everything you desire is through Christ, and everything else he promises he'll provide. Don't let your blessing of privelege be the thing that keeps you from living a fulfilled life.