Starve The Monster

Are you ready to defeat your monster?

Each of us has one. A little monster inside that pushes us towards just a little… more. A little more money, a little more food, a little more of everything.

The monster of entitlement tells us that we deserve more, it’s owed to us.

But when this monster runs amok, it creates havoc in our lives

Ungrateful kids, rude strangers, greed, jealousy, each of us has run up against the things the monster leaves in it’s wake.

We’ve been talking about the monster of entitlement over the last couple weeks, and this week we discover how to defeat it once and for all.

For your own sake, for the sake of your family, for the sake of your children, you won’t want to miss this Sunday at Connexus Church.

Barrie Campus

Starve The Monster – Part 4 – Defeat The Monster | Carey Nieuwhof

It’s one thing to battle the monster, but how do you defeat him?  A lot of the battle goes on in your mind. And it goes on in your bank account. So is defeat possible? Yes, although the answer may surprise you and even discourage you before it liberates you.

8.30 and 10.00 am | Galaxy Cinemas, Barrie

Invite your friend to Barrie here.

Orillia Campus

Starve The Monster – Part 3 – Little Monsters | Carey Nieuwhof

So you’re battling entitlement in you, but you’re also trying to fight it in your kids. Nobody likes an entitled, ungrateful child. But practically, in a culture that has so much, how do you raise kids who are truly grateful? This week, we’ll uncover an important principle from scripture and practically apply it to raising kids today.

8.30 and 10.00 am | Galaxy Cinemas, Orillia

Invite your friend to Orillia here.


Struggling to get your kids to become more grateful?

Most of us are.

This post from Andy Walker, our Director of Music at Connexus, can help you get some perspective. :)


You’ve heard it on the radio, we have played it at our church, some of you have danced to it at weddings. “Clap Along If You Feel Like Happiness is The Truth”.  Some of you are probably a little tired of hearing Pharell’s song  ”Happy” soaking up the airwaves. However, the song had me thinking.  What does it mean to be truly happy? Is it possible?

Recently I read an article in Time Magazine featuring Louis CK and his famous Conan O’Brien interview, “Everything’s Amazing Now and Nobody’s Happy”. This interview is from a few years ago, but if you haven’t seen it you can check it out here.

iStock 000009614260Small

Louis CK says, “Everything’s amazing now and nobody’s happy”.

Now obviously Louis’ schtick is full of embellishment, that’s what makes it funny.  However, he really drives home some great truths.  As a culture and (personally I am guilty of this) we miss out on God’s blessings in our lives because we take so much for granted.

If Louis’ statement is true,  you could say that the corollary is also true.  Gratitude leads to happiness.

Now, the there are many arguments for what happiness is.  What I am talking about is contentment.  Living a fulfilled life.

So often the answer to having a fulfilled life rests in our hands.

I am reminded of my grandfather when I think about gratitude.  He was one of the most successful, yet generous people I have ever known.  My Grandpa Bill knew what gratitude was.

Four years ago my grandfather died from cancer.

Towards the end of one of his appointments with the oncologist he was informed that his cancer was terminal, he would have months to live.   In the stillness of this moment my grandfather responded in a way I will never forget.

He said, “I am grateful.  Grateful for the life I have had and grateful for my family.”

I truly believe that he knew his life was from God.  In a moment of fear and sadness my grandfather chose gratitude.  He knew that his life was a gift and he was thankful even in the midst of death.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Is it possible to be grateful in all circumstances?  That’s a tough one.  I believe we can, but we have to choose gratitude.

I’m not saying I do this.  I believe it in my head, but my heart needs to catch up.  If you have mastered this please let me know!

So, how can we choose to lead a more grateful life?  I think, like anything it takes practice.  But we need to choose to do it.

This week I encourage you all to thank God for all that you have.

The Time article says to keep a notepad by your bed and every day write three things that you are thankful for.

You may find that this habit could turn into a life of gratitude and fulfilment.

I’d love to hear from you.  What are you all grateful for?  What habits do you practice to live a life of gratitude?

- Andy


Now that’s perspective isn’t it? Both from the standpoint of Andy’s grandpa and from Louis C.K.’s amusing and perspective-shifting ‘rant’.

So the next time your kids tell you they’re entitled to something or they show a lack of gratitude, remind them of how amazing this life really is, and remind them how to be thankful in all circumstances.

Over time, it will help change their perspective as it also changes yours.

- Carey

None of us want to raise entitled children, but are we destined to head down that road, regardless of our intentions?

What if the very way that we end up parenting ends up leaving us with hopelessly entitled kids?

Is there a way around it? A way to avoid it? Or is it hopeless?

This weekend in Barrie, and next week in Orillia, we talk about “Little Monsters” – the problems and perils of raising entitled kids.

For a teaser of the weekend, just check out this blog post by Carey, and discover what kind of parent you really are.

We’re going to be unpacking that and so much more this weekend at Connexus. Don’t miss it!

Barrie Campus

Starve The Monster – Part 3 – Little Monsters | Carey Nieuwhof

So you’re battling entitlement in you, but you’re also trying to fight it in your kids. Nobody likes an entitled, ungrateful child. But practically, in a culture that has so much, how do you raise kids who are truly grateful? This week, we’ll uncover an important principle from scripture and practically apply it to raising kids today.

8.30 and 10.00 am | Galaxy Cinemas, Barrie

Invite your friend to Barrie here.

Orillia Campus

Starve The Monster – Part 2 – Overvalued Monster | Carey Nieuwhof

What do you value? And more importantly, why do you value it? Often, the belief that what you’re pursuing has greater value than what you have drives the sense of entitlement most of us feel. But what if the monster has caused you to overvalue what you’re chasing?

8.30 and 10.00 am | Galaxy Cinemas, Orillia

Invite your friend to Orillia here.

Ever wonder whether your style of parenting is hurting or helping your kids?

I think most of us do. I do as a parent.

Parents and kid lying on garden with hands together

As part of our Starve the Monster (Battling Entitlement in You and Your Kids) series at Connexus, we’re going to dig into how kids develop an entitlement attitude. And sometimes, as parents, we make it worse.

Ted Cunningham, author of Trophy Child, identifies 7 styles of modern parenting that can have an adverse impact on kids: 

1. The Vanity Parent

Vanity parents look to a child’s achievement to give them status in the world. Classic examples are a child’s academic or athletic performance. A vanity parent uses a child’s performance to embellish their own.

2. The Perfection Parent

The perfection can’t stand to see their child make a mistake. But it’s not really about the child, it’s about the parent’s need for their child to be perfect. A bad report card can easily become more about a parent’s disappointment than a child’s.

3. The Competitive Parent

The competitive parent can’t bear the thought of others thinking their family might have struggles. Carefully edited Facebook status updates, too-good-to-be-true Instagrams and a desire for their child to be ‘the best’ marks a competitive parent.

4. The ROI Parent

Some parents say all they want is a better Return On Investment (ROI). This kind of parent pushes their kids to complete something even when the child has no interest, heart, passion or gifting for it, simply to get the return on their investment. Perseverance is a virtue, but this style pushes past perseverance.

5. The Gifted Parent

The gifted parent is convinced their child is ‘gifted’ and a ‘great kid’, even when all the evidence points to deep trouble. Their son simply ‘got into the wrong crowd’ but is somehow still ‘special’ and ‘different’ from all the other kids. A tell tale sign is when the school, the police or others are always ‘wrong’ about their assessment of a child.

6. The Companion Parent

This companion parent is looking to befriend a child, not parent a child. Often this surfaces in a home with a lot of tension or after a break up, when a parent is looking for a friend and decides to find one in their child. Parents need to parent, and in that leadership comes a safety and security for a child or teen.

7. The Rescue Parent

The rescue parent fills in the gap between irresponsibility and consequences. Daughter didn’t do her homework? The parent does it. The room’s a mess? The parent will clean it up. Trouble at school? The parent will straighten the principal out. Child blows some money? No worries, the parent offers more.

And all along, the child or teen (or adult child) is insulated from cause and effect and from the natural consequences of their action. They will never learn the lessons they need to learn to function as an adult.

All of these approaches to parenting happens with great intentions. But the results actually harm a child. They don’t help. And before you think I’m judging, I struggle with a few of these on the list too. It’s a regular battle to give a child or teen what they need, not what you think they need.

And bottom line? Each of these approaches to parenting feeds into a child’s sense of entitlement. 

We’ll drill down on how kids become entitled in Part 3 of Starve the Monster (July 20th in Barrie | July 27th in Orillia) and give you some practical parenting tips on how to combat that.

Not sure church is for you? At Connexus, our vision is to be a church that unchurched people love to attend. We meet at the Galaxy Cinemas in Barrie and Orillia at 8:30 and 10:00 Sunday mornings. You’re more than welcome.

Hopefully this helps all of us parents do family better!

- Carey 

Enjoying our Starve the Monster series so far?

In it, we’re addressing an issue that impacts all of us—especially our kids: entitlement.

As I shared in Part 1 of the series, a few years ago I went on a 12 month personal spending fast. It taught me so much about myself and how money can grip a heart, ever so subtly.

You might be thinking about taking up my challenge to do a one week, one month, or—for the very brave—one year spending fast.

What do you think you might learn from it?

What follows is an excerpt from the blog post I wrote shortly after finishing my year long spending fast, outlining the 7 biggest insights I gained during my personal spending fast.


 My 7 Biggest Insights from My Spending Fast

Here’s the excerpt from the post I wrote right after my 12 month spending fast ended in March 2013:

My year long spending fast is over.

For the last year, I’ve been on a 12 month personal spending fast. The rules are here if you want to read them, along with two updates I gave along the way (at 3 months and 8 months). (The 8 month update includes the only case where I broke the rules.)

But basically it meant I agreed to purchase no new technology, music, apps, clothing or other discretionary personal items for a year.

I was inspired to begin it by my assistant Sarah, who had spent the previous year on a personal spending fast. You can read about Sarah’s fast here.

My twelve months came to an end on the weekend.

I could give you a play by play, but I thought instead I’d drill a bit deeper into some of the theological/philosophical issues I think God has been dealing with inside me during this twelve month journey.

Here are 7 lessons I’ve learned.

1. Ego drives spending. 

Probably my favourite moment of my spending fast was when a 6 year old criticized my two and half year old iPhone 4. I let him take a picture with it and he handed it back and said “Whoa…you’re phone is slow.”  (Always nice to be trashed by someone in kindergarten.)  Had I not been on a spending fast I would have gone out the next day and bought a new phone. But it wasn’t an option. I’m still using the phone.

2. Entitlement masks itself as need. 

Of all the lies we tell, the ones we tell ourselves can be the most subversive. I realized the way I was masking entitlement in my own life wasn’t by telling myself ‘I deserve this’. Instead, I was telling myself ‘I need this.’ Then I would come up with 18 reasons why I needed it. Truth: I didn’t need it. I wanted it. Unmasking that was so helpful. Moving forward, here’s the lesson. If you’re going to just go ahead get something you want, why not just be honest about it? Just say you got it simply because you wanted it. Sure, it’s ugly to admit. But the darkness begins to flee when it’s continually exposed to light.

3. Impulsiveness fades if you deny it.

I can be an impulsive person. If I think something is the right thing to do, I feel like taking a stick of dynamite to the barriers. That can be a good quality, but not always. I can also be impulsive in spending. If I want it, I often just go get it.  I’ve learned that when you habitually deny your impulsiveness, it fades.

4. Denying yourself breaks the power of envy.

Confession: I used to go to visit friends who had better TVs, killer outdoor kitchens or BBQs, super high tech toys or more expensive cars (we all have our poisons, and those are some of mine) and I would replay a “how come my stuff isn’t that nice?” looped tape in my head. I’d come home and think my gear wasn’t that good anymore. I would then try to figure out how I could upgrade at least something. As a result of my fast, now when I see “better things” I genuinely feel happy for people (they have some nice stuff!) and when I get home I feel much more content with what I have. I like that feeling. Envy appears to have lost some of its power.

5. Gratitude increases as spending decreases.

I have probably never felt richer or more grateful in my life. Sure, I have struggles. And yes there are things I want. But I feel like I have so much. Godliness with contentment, as Paul says, is great gain. I feel closer to that sentiment than I ever have. I got a $15 iTunes card as a gift card before I left for my trip. I smiled every time I played the songs I bought with that card. Prior to the fast, I might not even have remembered how I got the music.

6. You find what you need.

If I really wanted a song (I couldn’t buy new music), I would make a like a 12 year old and find it on Youtube and just listen over and over again. I also discovered Songza, as free streaming music app. Additionally, after a few months I stopped even looking at the paid Apps on the app store–I only looked at the free stuff. I needed several new pairs of pants for a recent trip (for once in my life I didn’t have enough pants to last the length of a trip – I had worn three pairs out during the 12 month fast), so in compliance with my rules but I bought used clothing. Not surprisingly, used pants are as comfortable and stylish as new. And a fraction of the price.

7. Tough decision are easier than you think.

Actually spending nothing on yourself is less difficult than you think. The first month was the toughest. With each month, it got easier. In the last six months, I often forgot I was on a fast. New habits had been formed, and the desires were gone. I didn’t even want to break the rules toward the end. I think if we transferred the energy we spend resisting good decisions into fulfilling good decisions, we’d be so much further ahead.

In case you were curious, I believe I realized all of my original spending fast goals (including giving more away).
So…did I break the fast with a big spending spree? So far, 48 hours later, no! (But I I’m going to pick up a few new clothes soon.)

So that’s what I learned.

What do you think you might learn if you try a one week, one month or one year spending fast?

If you want to watch the Starve the Monster series (based on my learnings from my spending fast and the bible’s teaching on desire), you can watch it free here.

I’d love to hear any questions or comments you have. Leave a comment!

- Carey