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