So I want to start with the definition of entitlement. According to Psychology Today, Entitlement is an enduring personality trait, characterized by the belief that one deserves preferences and resources that others do not. Its effect on us is envy, anger, and frustration.
I’ve always hated people with that personality trait. They think they should be given things that I had to work hard for. And they think they shouldn’t have to endure things the rest of us inhabitants of planet earth have to endure.
Those people have always made me nuts.
Well . . .
For the last few weeks I’ve been engaging in this certain type of prayer, it’s an ancient spiritual exercise that’s designed to help a person become more like Jesus. So the other day, as a part of this exercise, I was asked to examine four areas of my life. Sort of a “see if there be any wicked way in me” type of prayer, similar to David’s in Psalm 139. Here are the four possible unhealthy areas I was prompted to examine.
Fears, as in unhealthy fears. I prayed about this and realized I don’t struggle with fear much.
As in unhealthy attachments. I prayed about unhealthy attachments in my life and I definitely have attachments but I try to hold on tightly to Jesus, and hold on lightly to everyone and everything else. That’s two for two. I was starting to feel encouraged.
As in having unhealthy control issues. Once again I prayed and realized that I generally don’t have a desire to control the behavior of others. (I learned a long time ago there’s no hope of controlling other people anyway. The only person I have control over is me.)
So by now I’m feeling pretty good about myself.
And then came number four:
As in feeling I’m entitled to things I am clearly not entitled to. (Feelings that are the opposite of the feelings in the illustration at the top of this post.) Before this prayer exercise experience, I thought about myself, “I’m nothing like those people who feel entitled.”
But then I prayed.
And God answered me.
And He revealed to me,
I am the most entitled person ever.
When I prayed about it, and thought about it, I had to admit I feel entitled about all manner of things. Here’s a (partial) list:
- I feel entitled to ignore the words of Jesus where I think they don’t fit my personality. (see previous post One of the Most Disrespected Dismissed Discounted Attributes of Christian Character)
- I feel entitled to roadways free of bad drivers when I’m in a hurry.
- I feel entitled to vehicles, electronic devices, and appliances that never break down.
- I feel entitled to be surrounded with people who are always in a good mood.
- I feel entitled to be free from any encounters with people who treat me badly.
- I feel entitled to be free from anything that violates my expectations.
- And here’s the craziest thing of all — I feel entitled to be free from people who have an attitude of entitlement!
When I encounter these seven things — and surely the list isn’t exhaustive — I often become angry and frustrated.
But love isn’t angry and frustrated. Love is patient and kind. Love is not irritable or resentful. Love bears all things. Love endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13)
Love is not entitled.
Pray for me.
Image of man praying with gratitude by johnhain (pixabay.com) via needpix.com
if there was a way to repost this on my site (which then links back to yours. I would have.
Good Op. Getting people to understand entitlement is hard. Its easy to see a few people who feel superior, but harder to see myself. The big issue I am dealing with right now is an effort I am involved with. To educate people about the suffering of the homeless. But it seems everyone just says, why don’t they just get a job. Its beyond empathy its beyond mercy, the road block is something in the Entitlement box. Even after listing people like Bill Clinton treating his staff so poorly forcing improper acts on them etc. While he gets paid, why doesn’t a poor person deserve a roof over their heads. Does he? who is better. But some how even after listing sins of others, they still see the homeless as less than, that they should fix it themselves while not seeing it as a human right to have the bare basics even if you are a failure. They just see themselves as less of a failure then them and so feel no ownership of the problem. like watching a drowning person drown saying, well he shouldn’t be swimming if he doesn’t know how to swim.
I can get the right words yet, but I think its an entitlement, pride and lack of concern for others.
Entitlement isn’t a personality trait by the way. By defining entitlement this way places us in a position that blocks any permanent solution because it is ‘baked in’ to who we are. That is a bunch of hogwash.
According to God entitlement is the most obnoxious form of pride emanating from our ‘self’ nature. Mankind likes to excuse ‘self’, God wants to kill ‘self’. Personally I agree with God. When we allow Him to kill our ‘self’ nature and its blasphemous pride then we can become truly humble and free from that beast. Entitlement gets replaced by gratitude and we can really have a growing, intimate relationship with Jesus.
Yes, I think I see what you’re saying. Entitlement is born of the flesh, and gratitude is born of the Spirit. And, as Jesus said, it’s “the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.”