My confession (and hopeful repentance) of privilege

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In the fall, I went back to my college alma mater for the first time in eight years.

When I returned I was surprised about how God spoke to me during that trip, and it’s an important lesson I’d like share.

The reason I returned to my school was my cross country and track coach, the coach there for 27 years, officially “retired” in the fall. But, unofficially and off-the-record, he was asked to step down.

I was extremely upset and disappointed in how the situation was handled by the administration.

I wanted justice. How dare the powers-that-be treat our coach/mentor/second father that way?

My attitude changed quickly once I arrived.

Instead of seeking answers, my teammates and I spent as much time as possible hanging out with Coach.

I’ll never forget the night when about 20 of us gathered in a circle around Coach and he told us how much it meant to him for us to be there and that in all things in our life we should glorify the Lord.

He told us that was what he prayed about and focused on during the painful couple of months that led to his “retirement.”

God certainly used that weekend and our presence for healing, not only for Coach, but for some of us.

It’s been my experience that so many times we set out on our own mission — mine was justice and answers — when, if we give God his space as his plan plays out, he likes to remind us of his ways.

That leads me to what else God wanted to teach me that weekend.

When we were there, we learned one of the people in charge of Coach’s exit said the distance program expected “privilege” and its members walked around like they were owed special treatment from the school.

When I heard that, I was initially outraged. But, as I let the words set in, I started to reflect on whether it was true for me.

I have certainly been guilty of living my life as if I deserve privilege.

There have been times when I was offended if someone didn’t donate to Young Life because I thought, “We do good things. Why wouldn’t they want to help us?” But really, my heart in that statement was, “Hey, I’m a big deal. I deserve your support.”

In my experience, it has become easy, both as a faith-based, non-profit director and as an American Christian, to approach life as if I’m owed something.

With the former, I’m guilty of expecting things from the community and taking generosity for granted because I “run a ministry and sacrifice a lot to do ‘God’s work.’”

With the latter, among many things, I’ve been critical of worship in my church because I’ve seen it done “right” at some weekend mega conference and think I deserve that experience back home.

I could probably go on about my misdeeds and thoughts relating to my wrong attitude of entitlement.

Are any of you guilty of this, too?

What would have happened if Jesus had thought he was owed something? My guess is he would have gotten up in the Garden of Gethsemane and walked away from his mission.

I’m glad he wasn’t me.

Are there places in your life where maybe you expect special treatment when God probably calls us to expect less and love more? I’m hoping God will continue to guide us in repentance from this struggle.

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