There’s a simple recipe. Place three Oreos in the middle of a room with four 5-year olds. Tears will ensue.
Even as children, we default to selfishness. The things we do initiatively are the things that are self-gratifying or self-preserving. We don’t teach kids to be selfish. We teach them to share.
Youth is temporary. Immaturity can last a lifetime. There are an awful lot of grownups who never got taught that the world does not revolve around them. Too many adults throw temper tantrums and feel justified in gratifying every impulse they have. If we assume that our kids will grow out of impulsiveness and selfishness, we’re probably going to be disappointed. We need to teach self-discipline and generosity.
That’s why the early church is so impressive to me. Listen to how Luke described them:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 ESV)
None of this is “natural” or “normal” human behavior. They learned it from someone. I wonder who that might have been…