One of the weirdest moments in church ministry for me happened in my first year. I was on the student team staff and was the driver for one of our events. That meant that I drove a fifteen passenger church van with another adult co-leader riding shotgun with me. On this particular event, something strange happened: I had a van full of only females. That had never happened before, and as you might imagine, it caused our conversation on that trip to be different than most.
I don’t remember how we got into the discussion but the focus turned to these teenage girls explaining how they were each a “princess of the King.” As I listened to how they were applying this metaphor I realized it can be used in two ways:
- to find self esteem and value in the love of Christ
- to find a sense of entitlement as someone more special than others
As I listened to the girls talk it sounded to be mainly the second one. So I attempted to thoughtfully challenge them to think through how they were using the metaphor. After all, there is no society where all the women are a princess of the same king. The metaphor by nature implies exclusivity. While some of the ladies were a bit heated in the discussion, I felt good about the dialogue overall.
Until the phone calls started.
The next day multiple parents called to complain about this and ask me how I had the audacity to tell their daughter that she wasn’t a princess. I was completely shocked. The response more than proved my point that this had turned into entitlement. Evidently, to challenge this sense of entitlement is labeled as telling someone they have no value or worth.
Now I have a daughter.
I want her to feel overwhelmingly loved and adored by her father. I want her to feel beautiful. I want her to realize that not only am I crazy about her but that God is also crazy about her. I want her to care less about trying to find this type of love and value from the boys around her. (Fine, she can also find it in her husband when she is in her late twenties…)
Will I tell her that she’s the princess of the King? Maybe, if she is still into Disney princesses and Barbies. But at some point I will teach her on a deeper level that not only is she loved, that every other little girl she meets is loved too. But nobody may have ever told those other girls that. I will encourage my daughter to be the type of woman that has a heart for everyone around her and doesn’t feel like she is entitled to more.
Entitlement is quite the buzz word these days whenever we talk about our young people. We live in a world now where everybody wins and everyone gets a trophy. But no matter your age, I think we’ve all got a bit of it in us. The Israelites had it and it caused them to disobey God countless times in countless ways. Christians today can have it when we think that we have a handle on God or if we believe He is for us and against everyone else.
This princess metaphor is the tip of the iceberg for so much more. When you tell it to a girl who struggles with self esteem, it has the potential to show her how much value she truly has. When you tell it to a girl who struggles with entitlement, it has the potential to harden her heart to people that God adores.
Entitlement is something we each must fight. Sadly, it seems that it’s a harder fight for those of us who follow God. We should be the first to acknowledge our need for God and what only He can do for us.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
“How long will it be before we discover we cannot dazzle God with our accomplishments?â€ Brennan Manning