America has become a nation of entitlement, no longer wishing to work for wages. Since when did God allow us to sit back and wait for things to be handed to us on a silver platter? Since… never. Why is this selfish attitude being supported by the very people who worked so hard to get to where they are now? Why would the people in this country, which was founded on hard work, want to just give it all away to those who choose to be lazy? No one in their right mind would go to work for someone else’s family instead of their own. Yet, government programs are counting on your sympathy (and your taxes) to make that happen. Why cater to people wanting everything for free, when they remain unwilling to put in some elbow-grease and hours? Entitlement breeds a selfish, self-centered generation.
Aren’t we proud of ourselves when we’ve worked hard on a project, and we see the final results? Of course! We know how much time and effort is put into training someone to do a job, teaching someone a skill, creating a piece of art, building a house, or even cleaning up a huge pile of dirty dishes! It feels great to accomplish something after a job well done. Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back; God created us to do work!
God didn’t create us to sit around expecting everything to be handed to us on a silver platter. Unfortunately some people feel they are above getting their hands dirty. They believe they are entitled to have something given to them, without having to work for it. But the Bible teaches us that entitlement is a sin. Entitlement is self-centeredness, and it goes against what Jesus teaches us to do: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” ( Phil. 2:3-4 New International Version).
In fact, God created us to do work; so we could use our gifts,talents, and skills to support ourselves financially. We are also to bless, serve, and help others. Even before the fall, before sin entered the world, God gave Adam a job to do. He was to work in the garden. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Gen. 2:14). God gave Eve a job too: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’ ” (Gen. 2:18). God also gave Adam the job of naming the animals. Everything was perfect then, so work was enjoyable. There was no lazy slacking in the Garden of Eden!
At the young age of 13, I began to work, with God by my side. I knew I needed a job, because I wanted a ten-speed bike like the rest of my peers. No one was on board to help me buy one; I knew it was entirely up to me. I was given the unpaid job of watching my beloved sibling after school, and I was on my own for figuring out my impossible Algebra homework… yet I was also determined to have a real paying job.
I babysat for kids whose parents were in jail, and for others whose parents had questionable “art” hanging from their walls, and still others whose parents stocked an entire pantry full of Hostess sugary snacks because it was the only thing their child would eat. My saving grace was that I loved children. I bagged groceries and carried them out to cars in frigid Alaskan sub zero temperatures, while it was pitch dark outside. I walked to my job at the base commissary (grocery store) with all of my friends. If we wanted to go anywhere, we either biked… or we walked. At the commissary, we worked only for tips: “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” Fortunately, people were generally pretty nice, and we friends helped out each other with the larger orders. The money added up. I got my blue ten-speed and rode all over the base. I rode my bike to the BX (Base Exchange) where I bought my own make up, records, and most of my clothes and shoes (if I wanted the kind which wouldn’t embarrass me).
After being plucked up once again, to yet another new house and school, I got my first job at a fast-food chain. I worked late hours while still in school, and dealt with favoritism and sexual harassment, because I was never taught what to do in those situations. I learned how to be tough and to tell grown adults not to mess with me. I needed spending money, and it added up.
I graduated from high school, and followed my family to Texas. I didn’t question plans; I’d been taught to do whatever my family decided. It never crossed my mind to stay in Alaska, where there would be in-state tuition… and a life with all my friends. I hated college life in The Lower 48. My friends weren’t there; and the roper boots, country music, and beer drinking binges were completely foreign to me. I switched universities, and plowed through work and school; graduating early from college because I had chosen to double up during summer school. I modeled and waited tables while student teaching; which was just like a real teaching job, but without pay. It was one of the most difficult, lonely times of my life. Many times I felt like giving up. There had been so many houses and so many schools. I was just so tired. But the work kept me focused and helped me to grow and learn. I didn’t realize it then, but it was also one of the ways God was helping to ease me away from my dysfunctional home, which looked perfect to outsiders looking in, but was unhealthy for me as an insider, needing to get out.
When a pageant opportunity arrived, I prayed fervently to God, asking for His will to be done. Winning First Runner-Up, and working hard to earn Most Talented, gave me almost as much cash as Miss Fiesta 1990. I had barely any pageant obligations to fulfill, so I was able to keep working. Though the title would have been sweet, it was almost the same. Besides, I was thrilled for the adorable winner, whose Hispanic family had enjoyed the traditional holiday for many more years than mine. It was just right; God was watching over me. The money paid for all my last semester books and more. I even managed to score an awesome leather backpack; still in perfect condition today, over 25 years later!
Upon graduating college, I desperately needed to leave the home where I was only wanted as a scapegoat for my family’s real problems. I was tired of pretending, tired of being blamed, and tired of being expected to keep secrets which had nothing to do with me. I needed out. I wanted my own life. I found my own place right after turning 21. I paid all my own bills and saved money. I was hired immediately after graduation; right in the middle of the school year. There was no luxurious graduation gift, nor any big break for backpacking in Europe before adult life started. I didn’t expect it either. I’d have to earn what I wanted. I headed straight into my career. I was so young that the staff often mistook me for a student; I was even yelled at by the vice-principal for running in the hall! But I was thankful for my career. I was disciplined with my money, and my savings fund was growing.
Work was no picnic. I ended up with an autoimmune disorder due to the stress. The principal of one of the elementary schools where I taught, was so abusive, that I almost gave up my entire teaching career. I worked in a dangerous area of town. My students came to school with lice, parents showed up drunk at Open House, children told me secrets I wish I didn’t know, and I had to report bruises from the belt beatings they received. It was truly heartbreaking. A gang broke into my classroom trailer, stealing both personal property, along with items belonging to the school. The abusive principal tried to hold me accountable for the school district’s items which had been taken from my classroom. I reported him and put in for a transfer to a new school. The devil was hell bent on destroying me. He didn’t like the fact that I was bringing the love and light of Jesus into the lives of these poor, precious children. But God won the victory; for in the future some of these very students would accept Christ as adults…and I’d be the one privileged to witness to them!
Evil ran rampant, when all I wanted was to teach kids that learning was fun, and let them know they were valuable and loved. Though I didn’t understand my power and authority in Christ back then, I did pray. I kept going through the tears, and God was merciful: He sent me my future husband just when I thought I could no longer keep going. It was a relief to no longer feel as if I was carrying the burden alone, and the joy of true love helped me to get through the remainder of the school year. My request to transfer was granted. The new elementary school allowed me the joy of being even more creative and fun; because I had more freedom to be myself, and worked with a team of like-minded teachers, who went the extra mile for the students, because we cared.
After getting married, I was taken by surprise by being handed over some unexpected responsibilities; payments for both my out-of-state college loan, and adult braces. I hadn’t wanted to sign up for either, but I’d been convinced the expenses were needed and would be taken care of. Instead, I now felt I was being punished for leaving home and getting married. My husband and I hadn’t even finished paying off our honeymoon! I was more upset by the fact that my husband was now stuck helping me to pay bills we hadn’t counted on; but he was supportive and encouraging, saying we were in this together. We included the new expenses along with our other joint bills. It only made us closer. We eventually paid off everything, including my new car, which had been an emergency replacement after my old one had been smashed and totaled… with me in it. God was clearly watching over us. We had the money for everything we needed, plus savings. Nothing is guaranteed, except for God’s love. God had provided.
Do I tell you about all my hard work in frightening, confusing situations, so I can brag about myself? No. I’m here to brag about Jesus Christ, for he’s the only reason I was able to make it through it all! I didn’t depend upon a “system of entitlement” to pay my way. In fact, I had been taught a lie; that I didn’t deserve any good things. Thankfully, God showed me the truth, that I could depend upon Him. God wants to teach us valuable lessons through our hard-work, and He wants to give us good gifts. God does not want us to be overworked, abused, or mistreated. He wants our jobs to bring us joy, and He wants us to see the fruits of our labor! When a farmer plants his crops, he sweats and toils, but then the fruits and vegetables come, and he is proud of his hard work!
In a tough life filled with hard work, the silver lining lies within the Bible promising that God will bless us for our hard work: “Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow” (Prov. 13:11). God will continuously provide for us, when we work while seeking His wisdom and direction! To work, is good and biblical. Therefore, let those of us who have worked hard; teach our youth to take pride in developing a positive work ethic. Only then, can we be a blessing to our future generation.