OPENING ACTIVITY: Now or Later?
[Before you begin this exercise, be sure to ask about any food allergies your students have and choose your treats, such as donut “bites” vs. whole donuts, accordingly. Remind your students about possible allergy issues before you begin.]
Offer your students a bite-size, tiny treat at the beginning of your time together with the option of getting three times as much when you’re finished—but only if they turn down your initial offer. Note who takes the tiny bite versus those who wait. Ask the students to talk about what drove their decisions.
Tell your students that this week lesson we will read about how our presumed need for immediate gratification has affected how we eat all the time.
OPENING STORY: [Make copies or read the article aloud to your class]
OUR ‘DRIVE-THRU LIFE’ IS GETTING FASTER
Fast food chains are responding to a rising consumer demand for more immediate gratification by enhancing their drive-thru services using new layouts, ordering technology, and even sending workers out to the lines themselves to take orders (and payments) via tablets.
As a result, lines at these drive-thrus are getting longer and longer—but getting your food and beverages has never been faster. The shorter and shorter amount of time it takes to fulfill an order is staggering—along with rising expectations that sitting for more than 45 seconds in a drive-thru lane is becoming unacceptable.
These restaurants are modifying their existing buildings, or creating new ones, in order to accommodate up to 30-40 cars at a time. The primary reason for this expansion is that the drive-thrus are out-performing the dining rooms.
“The majority of the restaurants are 60-70 percent drive-thru,” said McDonald’s franchisee Todd Horner. (His family owns more than 30 stores across multiple California counties.) “Ones that are closer to the freeways tend to be a little bit higher.”
A few chains have only drive-thru and walk up accommodations. The Good Times chain has been doing this for years. It’s now quite common to see these types of stores being set up by Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks.
According to Randall Lewis of the Upland-based Lewis Group of Companies (which develops shopping centers in Southern California), the trend is part of the online commerce revolution driven by consumers’ demand for speed, convenience, and low prices. He also adds that this type of accelerated gratification when it comes to getting one’s order meets the needs of people with long commutes.
“Sometimes it’s a nice thing before you get on the road. People are saying, ‘I want to get that smoothie or I want to get that bagel or that tortilla breakfast wrap because it will keep me entertained or less bored while I’m driving.’ ”
With fewer square feet to maintain on the inside of the restaurant, drive-thrus are efficient for the owners as well as customers, Lewis said, letting them “do larger volumes in either the same space or a smaller space.”
There’s usually a downside to getting something “faster” than it was originally designed to be obtained. People who opt for the speed and convenience of drive-thru fast food often experience significant weight gain—along with all the associated health problems (like diabetes, heart problems, and high cholesterol). Slower gratification obtained through thoughtful food acquisition and home cooking is set aside for a far less healthy quick fix.
Also, some places do not want drive-thrus around. “You’ll find jurisdictions that will put restrictions on drive-thrus,” said Lewis. “It’s a balancing act. It can be an aesthetic. Do we want people in our community to see a drive-thru?” People may be concerned about “what kind of tenants will use drive-thrus. It may be a way of saying we don’t want that kind of tenant. We want something else.”
One developer who plans to create these drive-thrus has been met with organized opposition from city groups. Though these groups usually lose, they are often able to win concessions such as sound walls and other ways to separate the cars sitting in a line from the homes that surround the food or coffee establishment. Some opponents are appealing to environmental factors when challenging a developer’s plans. Auto emissions at drive-thrus show increased levels—but since they are outside, there is little data to demonstrate that the exhaust is posing a health risk. Even so, the neighbors might complain about the smell.
Despite the complaints, however, the number of drive-thrus and their capacity to handle large lines only continues to expand.
Ask your students to form small groups to discuss their answers to these questions.
- Besides fast food, what other things do we want to happen “fast” in our culture?
- Why do we ignore the benefits of doing some things slowly such as eating food?
- When do you wish you would have “slowed down” and not done something for immediate gratification?
- How does our drive for immediate gratification affect our relationship with God?
Today’s lesson focus encourages us to resist the temptation of immediate gratification. Let’s take a look at Esau (in the Old Testament) who surrendered his birth right for the immediate gratification of fast food (even though he had a reputation as a skillful hunter and cook!)
Looking for Steps 2 & 3?
You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide; your Step 4 appears below. To purchase a teacher's guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes
THE TYRANNY OF ‘NOW’
We can be guilty of pursuing short cuts when it comes to spiritual formation and emotional healing. That only hurts us in the long run. We want God to run on our schedule and do things our way. For example, we may take “justice” into our own hands rather than wait for God to hold people accountable. We may expect becoming a mature Christian to be an “instant” process. Bottom line, we often do things the Lord does not want us to do without thinking through the consequences because we want it done now—not tomorrow or the next day. Like Esau, we forfeit what would benefit us in the long run for the tyranny of satisfying our desires “now.”
Ask your students to return to the groups they had in Step 1 to discuss this question.
- In what areas does the Lord want you to take your time, think through your decision, and depend on Him rather than satisfy your desire for immediate gratification?
Now is the time to reward those who waited for the larger treat you have for them. Then close the class in prayer, asking God for the ability to resist the temptation of immediate gratification in our lives, especially since taking these types of short cuts will only hurt us in the long run.
THE BIBLE IN THE NEWS
A giant Bible sign on a hillside in Mexico may break four Guinness world records:
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