Entitlement – The Poison and The Antidote

Like so many others, this week I am reeling, feeling utter dismay and disgust over both a father’s letter to a judge and that judge’s lenient ruling for a young man convicted of a heinous crime. Both father and son showed complete indifference to the true victim in the scenario, excusing the son’s actions, blaming alcohol consumption instead of taking personal responsibility. The victim’s brilliant statement to the court appeared to be completely disregarded in the judge’s determination. In the aftermath, people are outraged. And rightly so. There’s a petition to have the judge removed. Good.

But that’s not what I want to address today.

This decision, despicable as it was, wasn’t determined in a day, or even in one court case. The father’s letter and the judge’s decision revealed a deep insidious decay in our culture today. It’s called “entitlement.”

Entitled

The definition of “entitlement” is:

  • the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

We see “entitlement” in all areas of life. Entitlement is a myopic worldview with an “all about me” mentality. Entitlement rips apart the fabric of civilized society. It’s more than just “looking out for #1.” A sense of entitlement is accompanied by emotions such as resentment, envy, anger, ingratitude, and disappointment. It leads to blaming others instead of taking responsibility for your own actions. It is as dangerous to the mind as rust is to metal or cancer is to the body.

In writing this, I don’t think that you, my dear reader, suffer from feelings of entitlement. But I think you see it around you, just like I do. My purpose in writing this is to point out that we have the power to counter the culture of entitlement. What we do or say can reduce or eliminate this poison in our families and friendships, our homes and workplaces, our churches and ministries.

If we each apply steps like these below, we can turn the tide on the sense of entitlement:

  1. Focus on countering the entitlement culture:
  • Seek out opportunities to be grateful. Be pro-active in searching for the blessings you already have.
  • Make changes, not excuses. We’re not perfect. When we mess up, let’s be honest, seek forgiveness, and change the offending behavior. Don’t seek to blame someone else for our actions.
  • Look for the heroes in tragedies. The victim in the story above keeps pictures of bicycles above her bed to remind her each night of the young men on bikes who rescued her. She is choosing to focus on the people of integrity in her life, rather than wallow in the mud-puddle of victimhood.
  • Share stories that point out honorable actions, like this one.

 

  1. Teach and be examples for the next generation.
  • Limit expectations to reality. Don’t expect what you haven’t earned. (Except for the grace of God.)
  • Develop an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude begins where entitlement ends.  “Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” Harold Coffin
  • Encourage excellence, but not competition at someone else’s expense. Take joy in other’s accomplishments.
  • Teach your children well. Talk about entitlement, sexual consent, and make the discussion age appropriate.

 

  1. Seek the Lord in prayer and His Word.
  • Take it to the Lord in prayer . “If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will healtheir land.” 2 Chron. 7: 14
  • The Bible is filled with examples of entitlement beginning with Adam and Eve who wanted to eat something they weren’t entitled to. Jesus’ disciples argued about who was the greatest and where they’d sit at His table. But Jesus provided the antidote to entitlement, saying that they must become like little children or like a servant.

 

Let’s remember. We have all sinned and aren’t entitled to anything except eternal damnation. By His grace, as believers, we receive something wonderful that we don’t deserve. Let’s be salt and light, doing everything in our power to draw those in our spheres of influence to counter the culture.

“ Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Phil 2:3-7

 

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  • Laurie Davies

    “Don’t expect what you haven’t earned” and “gratitude begins where entitlement ends.” Zing. Nailed it.

  • Kathryn Ross

    Excellent post, Susan. This has made me so angry and grieved for our society. May the Lord heal that poor girl’s heart and bring His justice to this situation in due season.
    Joy!
    Kathy