Written by: Rev. Chris Walker
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves…” (Phil 2:3)
Many years before I met my wonderful wife, I dated a young woman who was a self-described “princess.”
(I should have known that I was in trouble when I was informed of this on our very first date!)
Over the course of the doomed relationship, it became very clear what this meant (because I was reminded non-stop): that she expected to be treated like gold. This, on its own, is not a bad thing – a lady should be treated like gold!
However, she had very specific demands as to how this was to be walked out: she expected to be spoiled, waited on, catered to, and to dictate terms on just about everything. It was all about her.
Needless to say, the relationship did not last. As it turns out, I wasn’t that interested in dating a “princess.” (Obviously, men can be just as self-centered, if not more!)
When I met my amazing Sarah years later, I fell head-over-heels in love, and fast! I had never met someone so beautiful, so funny, so interesting, so passionate about Jesus – I proposed a few weeks into our relationship, and for reasons that still escape me, she said “yes.”
Sarah is strong, sweet, and hard-working. She is confident, but she’s no “princess.” There’s not an entitled or demanding bone in her body. Upon meeting her, I was still doing my best to treat her like gold, but this time it was met with gratitude, not demands. The difference between the entitled attitude of a princess, and the appreciative attitude of my future wife, was the difference between a frustrating relationship and an incredible, life-changing one!
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
So much in our culture is geared towards the idea that it’s all about me – life is about my comfort, my convenience, my entitlement, my deservedness, my advancement. Counter to that, Jesus tells us that in His eyes, to be great is to serve, to be exalted is to be humble, to lead is to sacrifice, and to make a difference is to lay down your life for Him and for others. Even Jesus came to serve!
In a world that tells me that it’s all about me, Jesus reminds me that entitlement and self-centeredness have no place in the Kingdom of God. As children of the King of Heaven, we are indeed “princes” and “princesses” – but having a Kingdom perspective on these roles is very different than having a self-centered one!
Sarah and I have two children, a daughter and a son, with our daughter being the first born. When our little lady arrived, my life suddenly got a lot more girly.
Here’s an obscure fact that you may not know: little girls love princesses.
The other day, my four-year-old daughter walked into the room wearing her dress-up princess clothes. She pointed at her tiara and looked at me.
“Daddy, do you know what this crown means?”
“It means I’m a princess.”
I was already thinking about writing on this topic for the blog, and thought this might lead to a good quote for the posting, so I asked, “And what does being a princess mean to you?”
No hesitation. “It means I’m in charge.”
Princesses (and princes) get their way. It’s all about them. This was pretty cute in a four-year-old! (It was less cute later when I was wrangling her for bedtime and she informed me that I was not in charge.) It is also a less exciting attitude when I see it in myself – that attitude of elevating and focusing in on “me” that can so easily sneak in!
The princess-loving stage will pass for my daughter, I know. And it’s a little sad to think about – I love this age, and weirdly, I even sort of get a kick out of how self-absorbed and entitled my kids are as toddlers – it makes me laugh sometimes, like in the above story.
But it’s only funny because they’re young, and because it is (I hope!) temporary! In the big picture, I don’t really want to be the father of a “princess” or a “prince.” I want them to feel loved and cherished, but I also want them to be hard-working, self-sacrificing, and other-centered. The world is already doing a pretty good job of telling my kids it’s all about them, and, being toddlers, they actually already naturally feel that way! As a dad, I’m doing my best to lead them in a different direction – the way of Jesus, where we try to live a life that takes the focus off of “me,” and relocates it on Him, and on others.
What I’m praying for as a dad is that my children know they are deeply loved – but are not spoiled.
That they know their value – but are not entitled.
That they are strong in who they are – but not self-centered.
That they are confident – but not cocky.
That they understand that, while they are indeed children of the King, that this knowledge instills in them a sense of awe, wonder, thanksgiving, and worship – not a “princess” attitude that leads to any more focus on “me.”
I’m no expert in how to actually accomplish this – but this is what we’re going for! My wife and I stumble along in this art of parenting one day at a time, as I’m sure we all likely do. But as we do our best on our end, I’m asking God for strong, confidant, hard-working, other-centered, passionate Christ-followers in my house – and trusting that the One who forms us will make it happen!
Chris is a Teaching Pastor in Leamington, Ontario. He is married to his beautiful wife Sarah, and together they have two fantastic kids.