More is Never Enough
by Leslie Vernick
Walking through the store I heard a young girl about nine years old, whining loudly. She was following her mom from aisle to aisle, big crocodile tears flowing down her face. “Mom, I want it. Why won’t you buy it? Mom, pleeeease.”
As the mother went about shopping, ignoring her pleas, the daughter’s strategy escalated. Now sobbing, she howled, “Mom, I want it. I WANT IT NOW.”
The mother valiantly tried not to lose her temper. Finally, she turned to her daughter and said in a firm voice, “Stop it! You are not getting anything today. You did not behave.”
My heart sank. Although this mother may have been correct in not rewarding her daughter’s misbehavior with a special treat from the store, she missed a larger opportunity to teach her child an important truth. More things will not make you happy.
We live in a culture of “I want more” and believe “If only I had more, I would be happier.”
Even as adults we’ve bought into this lie. Who hasn’t said to herself, “If only I had more ___________ then I’d be happy.”
If only you had more money, more time, a bigger house, a different spouse, a newer car, then you’d feel happier? Right? Not really.
Research shows that even lottery winners don’t experience lasting happiness after their big win. No matter what we get, it will never be enough because as soon as one longing is satisfied, three more will replace it.
This little girl is growing up in a culture where we not only want more, we think we need more, must have more, and deserve more. Every television commercial reminds us that we should have more because we’re worth it.
Entitlement thinking deforms our personhood as we become more and more self-centered and self-absorbed. More diminishes our spirit and poisons the soul. Instead of feeling happy and grateful for what we do have, like the child at the store we feel deprived. We grumble and complain because another person or God is not giving us more of what we think we need and deserve.
But more isn’t better because more never satisfies. More just fuels our hunger for more.
How do we break free from the mindset of more? The apostle Paul tells us that we must retrain our minds to think in new ways. (Romans 12:2). We have to realize that the world’s way of thinking is not only incorrect, it leads to death.
Paul shares with us a secret that he learned that helped him reject the tyranny of more. He learned how to be content in every situation (Philippians 4:11).
We too can learn this lesson but it takes some practice. Here are two disciplines you can begin, as well as teach your children in order to learn contentment.
1. Gratitude: The Bible says, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord (Psalm 92:1). Gratitude counters our entitlement mindset and helps us appreciate the things we do have instead of constantly longing for more. On the way home from the store, this mom could have invited her daughter to think of five things she is thankful for. As she turned her attention toward her blessings, her daughter’s grumbling attitude may have changed.
Even when it’s hard to see the good in a particular situation, God calls us to give thanks in all things even if we can’t give thanks for all things. (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Mom might have been tempted to grumble internally about her daughter’s misbehavior and immaturity but retraining her own mind would have reminded her instead to give thanks. Although aggravating, that teachable moment was a gift from God to help her and her daughter see things in a new way. They don’t need more in order to be happy. God has given them many blessings already.
2. Practice Simplicity: When our entitlement mindset looms large, consciously turn your heart away from more and turn it toward God in praise. Praise thanks God for who he is and what he has given us. As we faithfully practice praising and thanking God, we learn to trust his character and his plan for our life even when we don’t understand or like it.
The apostle Paul learned these lessons while sitting in a prison cell. Often it is in the hardest places where we are most teachable.
In this season of Thanksgiving and holiday shopping, when you are tempted to grumble and complain or just want more, press PAUSE.
Turn your heart and mind toward all that you have and all God has done. See what a difference this small shift in the way you think makes in your daily sense of well-being. When Jesus says that he has come to give us an abundant life, he didn’t mean a more prosperous life, but a more meaningful one.