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Fast food. Fast service. Instant coffee. Easy. Speedy. Instant. Jiffy. This is the language of today’s culture. Gone are the days of meals lovingly prepared for two hours, dresses sewn by hand over a period of two or three weeks, car repairs taking a full day and lasting a full six months… nowadays everything happens at the press of a button, swipe of a card, or snap of a finger. The older generations that grew up in an era that forcibly taught patience marvel at the speed at which information travels, food cooks, and people accomplish things. Their children and grandchildren however, have never known anything but instant gratification and have developed a mindset of entitlement, self centeredness, and blindness to the needs and efforts of others.

The USA is a land built upon and by the timeless values of patience, perseverance, hard work, and above all the ability to delay immediate pleasure for the sake of a greater purpose. I fear, though, that the generations that came before me have neglected to pass these principles down, leaving us with a society increasingly lacking self control.

I volunteer with the Sunday preschool classes at my church. The most frequent whine I hear from these precious children is “I want it, and I want it now!” (regardless of what “it” may be.) These children are then reprimanded by adults who in the next moment get mad at the classroom television for taking so long to get going so we can watch the children’s video! Something is dreadfully wrong with this picture.

Our culture is riddled with high rates of teen pregnancy and increases in high school dropout rates. Teens today would much rather go have fun at a so-called “church” camp that barely takes time to say grace, than go into the local ghetto or slum and paint houses, mow lawns, and pull weeds. Oh sure, selfishness and nearsightedness are timeless cultural problems. But they’re getting worse with each generation- and less and less is being said by the older generations in protest. Instead they pass off as “kids will be kids”.

This increasing inability to be patient, to think ahead, and to delay pleasure, is directly associated with these serious cultural issues we’re facing (as listed above). High schoolers don’t see the point of school because they haven’t been raised to think five years down the line. Yes, it’s partly the parents responsibility to do that for them, but  1)parents should lead by example and aren’t  2)give these high school dropouts two more years and they’ll be legal adults and mental toddlers- if by that point they haven’t learned to delay pleasure who do you think is going to make them? This is the dilemma we face.

The answer lies with YOU. If you are an adult, or even more significantly, a parent, the time is now for you to begin making the change with your civic-leaders-or-high-school-dropouts-to-be! Take the children out on a technology free family outing in nature. Play board games together that will teach them strategy and thinking ahead- not to mention forging deep connections with them. Have them join you in the kitchen to cook a real meal- show them that the best things in life need to bake a while before you dive in and help yourself. Don’t send your kids to youth group to get their spiritual rearing- take them door-to-door witnessing with you! Have them volunteer at a local food bank or animal rescue group with you! Teach the younger ones to tithe on their allowance.

The operative words in the sentences above are “with you”. Yes this will require some intentional parenting and a significant sacrifice of time and energy from you. But is that so much to ask- for you to be a decent parent and good steward of the most precious gifts God gave you (your children)? The first step you must take is to bring this before God in your private prayer time. Only He knows how to run a family (no parent can do it without His help). Let Him show you the way.