Entitlement is something that plagues our culture. I have witnessed it in so many levels in so many different places, businesses, churches, non-profits, the public sector, the list goes on and on. It crosses age, ethnicity and socio economic status. The ramifications of a spirit of entitlement are very detrimental to us as individuals. The massive deception is we don’t realize its destroying us.
Opinions abound, everyone has them. The problem is people feel a right to share their opinions when they haven’t done anything to actually deserve a voice. For example, I don’t have a say in the future of Facebook because I am not a shareholder and I didn’t get in on that IPO, thank God. If I want a voice in the future, I need to buy stock, and then I can go to shareholder meetings and make my voice heard. In the same way someone who does not live in my house doesn’t tell me what color to paint my walls, I pay the bills, I name the color.
This spirit of entitlement is a big problem for a few reasons.
1. People with a spirit of entitlement will inevitably complain, get bitter, and offended. They will blame it on the leader and just say they don’t listen or don’t make me feel important. It begins a pattern where everything is someone else’s fault and never my fault.
2. Small problems cook and turn into bigger problems in their own mind. Most of the time people don’t actually verbalize their opinions, they just internalize them, they let them fester in the crock pot of their souls. They expect that leader to be a mind reader and know everything that is going on in their head. This view begins to distort everything and in that persons eyes, the leader cannot do anything right and they are criticized constantly.
3. Entitlement inhibits our growth as individuals. The longer we don’t serve, the longer we sit and consume without giving, the more toxic, myopic and self absorbed we get, because we believe its all about us and getting our needs met. Its not about the organization soaring to higher heights and the good of others.
4. Its the antithesis of the gospel. When has it ever been about us? Ever? The gospel frees me from my compelling need to share my opinion and be proved right because I realize Jesus is always right and He is the one who promotes. If anyone ever had a right to be served, it was Jesus, but He never took advantage of His position even though He earned it. The gospel frees me from entitlement, because Jesus never took advantage of His right even when He had it.
As a leader and pastor, I will listen for days to people who are deeply invested in our church. Their concerns carry more weight than someone who comes and just consumes. I’ll still listen to the consumers opinion, it doesn’t mean they don’t have something valid to say, but if you are a consumer you’re advice is given through the eyes of a consumer who doesn’t own the vision and cares about yourself first.
If you serve and are a shareholder, meaning you have bought in to what we are doing and are personally invested in it, your perspective comes from someone who is deeply invested and someone who cares. The dichotomy is that you can’t really care about the organization until you stop caring for yourself first.
In conclusion, if you want a voice, in your job, in whatever church you attend, in your non-profit, earn it. You do this by serving, putting the needs of the organization before your own comfort and putting others first, then you will get a seat at the table.