Entitlement. It’s a word we hear all too often.
It’s always been around but when did we become so obsessed with feeling number one? When did we decide that we have all the rights and privileges and others are second? Have things really become more about us and less about others?
For months I’ve been observing entitlement issues. I keep thinking where did our manners go. How much trouble can it be to respond graciously to others; or to provide a simple ‘thank you’ to someone; or to spend time listening to a friend in need because you want to?
How did we get to this place where we believe we ‘deserve’ special treatment?
Somewhere in this journey we have lost our way. You see, God didn’t call us to serve ourselves first. He called us to be like Him and put others first.
“Do we want to be remembered as self-serving rather than serving others?”
Check out the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:11. His entitlement encompasses two attitudes: 1) He felt he was exempt from responsibility and 2) He felt he was owed special treatment. (Dr. John Townsend)
I recently watched a group of adults plan an event for teenagers. They had wanted to make the evening fun and give them a safe place to fellowship with friends. It took hours of extra time to plan and prepare, personal resources that they may or may not have had, and there was short window of time to make it happen.
Before the event ever took place there was already a feeding frenzy of ungratefulness from some of the teens and they made sure the adults knew how ‘uncool’ the event was going to be. The event hadn’t even happened yet!
Thankfully we still have kids who are taught to show their appreciation, be thankful, and be open to lots of opportunities. I like to think of these kids as kind, wise, and independent thinkers–they see the value in others. And even though the event was relatively small, a good time was had by all who attended.
The sad part is it’s not just about our children and their lack of care or concern for others. We can blame that on immaturity and a relatively small number of life experiences. But adults know better. We know right from wrong. And yet we still believe we can do and say anything we want.
Just like the stranger who decided it was okay to try and hack your bank account or credit card. What happened to getting a job and making his/her own way? What makes them feel they deserve what you’ve worked hard for? And yet if they had succeeded you would be faced with a mess on your hands.
And then there was the parent who believed her child was so much more talented than anyone else in the show and deserved more performance time than the other 20 something entries. Seriously? Who comes up with this stuff? Fortunately the organizer of the show gave everyone equal time. Not a popular decision by the parent’s standards, but it was the right thing to do for all involved.
The list could go on and on.
I started looking at different things from a personal perspective. How often does entitlement seep through the cracks in my life? And will I be able to recognize the dangers associated with this kind of selfishness? With God’s amazing grace I’m much better equipped to deal with this kind of behavior.
Yet, we still want what we want. For example: we do something nice for somebody and we expect a thank you; or we drive up to an already crowded fast food lane and we expect the line to move faster simply because we have arrived and are in a hurry; or we stand in a long line at a local store with one item in our hands and believe we should go to the front of the line. But that’s not the way life works.
When these issues come to mind God has a gentle way of reminding us that we ‘sometimes’ have entitlement issues too.
The ‘sometimes’ is where we get into trouble.
God’s word clearly tells us in Philippians 2:3 to, “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
As you make your way through this week I want you to think about your ‘sometimes’ feelings of entitlement. What is your attitude like? Are you taking responsibility for your actions and words? Or has your faulty thinking taken over and convinced you that you are owed special treatment?
We must be careful of the dangers lurking around us and ready to swallow us whole when we choose to act less than Christlike. But thankfully my Heavenly Father helps me to deal with my shortcomings from His perspective. I know it doesn’t happen every time, but if I am able to recognize my mistakes and make the necessary adjustments then I know I’m headed in the right direction.
We must live by God’s word and teach His truths–to ourselves and our families. If we don’t, there’s a lot we’re going to miss out on.
Please share you entitlement struggles with us on Peacefully Imperfect’s Facebook page, in the comment section of this blog, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.
I’m praying for you to have a blessed week.