Saying "No" to Selfish Whims

Devotionals from Leslie Ludy and the Set Apart Girl Team

Saying "No" to Selfish Whims

by Leslie Ludy | April 27, 2012

“But I want to!” is a phrase heard often in the Ludy home. Recently we informed Dubber (age 3) that he was not allowed to decorate the living room walls with a pen, and broke the news to Avy (age 2) that she was not allowed to dump an entire – large! – bottle of Parmesan cheese on top of her pasta (we stopped her once we noticed that half the jar had been already been deposited on her plate). In both cases, there was great consternation combined with the insistent protest, “But I want to!” As if that was going to somehow sway us. Mommy and Daddy were not about to change their minds simply because their children pleaded that they wanted to do something, especially when it came to scribbles on the walls or a serious Parmesan overdose. But our three younger kids are still in that childish state of believing that if they truly desire something, they should be able to do it. They don’t yet understand or appreciate healthy boundaries and restrictions. As a mother, I must remain confident that saying “no” to my kids’ selfish whims is not only necessary, but absolutely essential to their spiritual futures. They may whine and fuss about it now, but according to God’s pattern, they will love and appreciate it in the long run.

Proverbs 28:26 says, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.” How many adult Christians get into trouble because they do not heed this all-important Scriptural principle? Our culture urges us to “follow our hearts” and so often we believe that we are truly doing something noble when we yield to this advice –forgetting that our hearts are full of selfishness and deceit. If we follow every emotional whim of our selfish agendas rather than submitting to God’s agenda, we are on the path to death and not life.

It’s my desire to instill a cheerful “dying to self” attitude in my kiddos, even from a young age. If they learn now that just because they want something doesn’t make it right or healthy, they will be far less likely to fall prey to the dangers of the “follow your heart” messages of our day.

Hudson (age 7) is beginning to realize that not everything he wants is necessarily good for him. Last year I started to notice that he was becoming a bit of a pack-rat – attempting to save every piece of paper that had a cherished scribble on it, or every random brochure that he picked up on outings around town. I talked to him about the importance of getting rid of things and told him about a home I once visited where the family never threw anything away and there was literally no place to walk or sit (I am sure it was a major health code violation as well!). He was so horrified at the thought of where his pack-rat habits might lead him that he immediately changed his ways, and is now doing much better at parting with his not-so-important little treasures. He realized that following his own desires in this area was only going to lead to a mess in his future. Hudson is now at the age where these little life lessons actually seem to sink in (at least sometimes!).

As for my two, three, and five year olds, I will just have to be patient through the “but I want to!” season and trust that someday, I will see healthy fruit emerge in their lives as a result. God’s ways are not easy, but they are perfect!*