Church Message

An Antidote for the Entitlement Epidemic
By Ronald Gallagher
CHURCH DIRECTORY

Church message imageChurch sponsors jul17Apparently, before long, we will be sharing the road with cars that have no human driver. Self-driving cars have already taken to the roads in some places, and prognosticators show no hesitation in declaring that they will eventually be commonplace. That could be refreshing. Robotic cars probably wouldn’t cut you off and risk serious injury and material damage for the possibility of gaining one additional car length in the contentious vehicular blender we call "rush hour”.

My optimistic side wants to believe that another potential advantage to robotic cars is that they may not be programmed with the "entitlement” mentality that has become more and more pervasive among humans in the past decade or two. If that is indeed the case, it will save us further aggravation and lower the manufacturing cost because they won’t have to build in little automatic arms that fly into a frenzy and start making obscene gestures, suggesting socially unacceptable things in sign language, every time something doesn’t go their way.

Traffic is just one place we see the entitlement mentality. It abounds on college campuses and is becoming more and more evident among millennials everywhere, and it has troubling behavioral and relational implications. The "entitlement complex” is basically a form of narcissism that results in a pervasive sense of disappointment accompanied by a tendency toward impulsive and aggressive responses to minor irritations. The following attitudes are indicative:
  • Rules that apply to others shouldn’t apply to you.
  • Others should be more interested in you than you are in them.
  • You disregard rules that are there for general safety or comfort.
  • You freeload without hesitation and without a sense of gratitude or obligation.
  • You inconvenience others without apology— break appointments, bail out on plans, etc.
  • You offend others without hesitation but think any offense you feel is intolerable.
This toxic narcissism leaves people feeling perennially frustrated and disappointed with life. We have seen that attitude on display repeatedly as students have created riots on campuses and hundreds have taken to the streets to "protest” almost anything that doesn’t go their way and to make expansive demands that reveal a serious disconnect when it comes to pragmatic realities and how the world really works.

The influence of entitlement attitudes is evident in the declining quality of interpersonal relationships, fewer marriages, more transient "partnerships”, and increasing levels of emotional distress such as depression and anxiety. A sense of entitlement permeates social media, as well, where the nature of the emotions expressed is predominantly negative. The endless demands for more "likes” and "friends” often ends in frustration that sabotages the happiness people ostensibly want.

The entitlement mentality isn’t new. Satan inserted it in the beginning when he basically said to Eve, "You deserve more.” But those who think that they should get everything they want— often for nothing—eventually discover that it comes at the cost of relational fulfillment and ultimately their own happiness.

Jesus offers that antidote. Consider the contrast in just one description of the mindset He advocates:

Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4 NKJV)

But where does this radically different mindset come from? It isn’t something learned in a self-help seminar; it grows out of an awareness of who we are and what we really deserve from God, who declared about us, "There is none good” (Romans 3:10-18). Nobody is acceptable to God on his or her own terms because our sins separate us from Him. Changing that demanded a love that is foreign to us. A love only available in God brought the One who is eternally entitled, who really is better than others, whose opinion really does rise above all others, to "humble Himself”, to become one of us, and to suffer the pain and loss we deserved in order to purchase our redemption.

Grace—receiving it from Him and offering it to others—is the antidote needed to counter this epidemic of entitlement. Grace offers everything to us who deserve nothing, and the highest exaltation to those who have wallowed in the lowest degradation.

In addition to being an active writer, speaker, teacher, and blogger, Ron Gallagher serves in a variety of roles as a ministry consultant for local churches. His Biblical insights are coupled with down-to-earth humor, satire, and relevant stories, all aimed at promoting "right side up thinking in an upside down world.” Ron strives to apply God’s truth in a way that stimulates the mind, encourages the heart, and challenges the cultural norm.  Check out his blog, "Gallagher’s Pen” at www.gallagherspen.com

 





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