A Culture of Entitlement

a bold, motivational phrase "BREAK THE ENTITLEMENT MINDSET" in white text on a dark background with a decorative border

We live in a world of Entitlement. (Entitlement is the belief that one is born deserving of privileges or special treatment) Today, it’s in our communities, in our workplaces, in our churches and in our homes!

In the story of the 11th hour workers found in Matthew 20:1-16, we see this form of entitlement come to life. In this story, the Landowner goes out at different times, looking for workers to work in his vineyard. He first went out before 6am and found his first set of workers. These first workers wanted a specific amount of money for the work that they were going to do and thus the Landowner made a contract agreement that they would each get paid $300 (1 Denarius).

The Landowner went out again at 9am, 12 noon and 3pm and found more workers. Now, in those days, the work day was 12 hours long. And thus in the 11th hour of work, or at 5pm, the Landowner went out one last time to see if there were any more workers. He still found some workers and said that he would also pay them what was right. Now, these workers agreed to work without asking how much they would be getting paid, being that they were just happy to have work, at such a late hour.

Finally, 6pm had come and the Landowner had his Manager call all of the workers together to get paid. He paid the 11th hour workers first and paid them each $300. Now when the first group of workers got paid, they were each paid $300 as well. Now, when these first workers saw that the 11th hour workers were paid the same as them, out of frustration, they began to complain against the Landowner. They said, “We were here first and did hard work all day for 12 hours in the heat of the day, while bearing the main burden of the work. How come these 11th hour workers worked for only one hour, when it was cooler and easier, and they still got the same pay as us? That’s so unfair! We should be getting more than them!”

The Landowner then responded, “Friend, I am not doing you any wrong. Did not the contract agreement which you had wanted, say that you would get $300? Take your money and leave! I wish to pay these 11th hour workers the same amount as you. Can I not do what I want with my own money? Are you angry because I am good?”

Now, this story clearly shows the spirit of entitlement found in the workplace at that time. For these first workers felt that since they were there first, they were deserving of special privileges above and beyond what they had rightfully coming to them as outlined in their contract agreement. 

And do we not see this same culture of entitlement in our work places of today? I’ve have seen with my own eyes at different workplaces, entitled employees who felt the need to special perks over their newer “rookie” employees, just because they have been there longer.

Do we not see this as well in our Schools? A Teacher I once worked with, told me about a parent who had told her: “How come my child doesn’t know how to tie his shoes yet?” At which I responded to the Teacher, “Wow! Since when has it become the Teacher’s responsibility to teach a child how to tie their shoelaces?”

Do we not also see this entitlement mentality in our churches? I’ve had members feel that they can demand or direct what the Church should be doing or not be doing, based upon their being a long time faithful church member, which somehow gives them special privileges over all the other church members. 

And do we not see entitlement culture in our homes as well? Maybe you’ve seen the news article where two children, ages 23 and 20 sued their mom for $50,000 for emotional distress; for not taking her daughter to a car show, for failing to send care packages while her children were in college and for not including cash or a check in a birthday card. Yup! Crazy!

And do we not see this mindset even among the parents of today? Where parents say to their children, “You need to take care of me now, because I took care of you when you were younger” or “You need to respect me because I am your Parent”. 

You see, I am so glad that Jesus is not an entitled person. His leadership doesn’t demand us to be obedient, like how we do so with one another! Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commandments”. You see, Jesus doesn’t command obedience by saying to us, “You need to be obedient”. But instead He says, “I want you to be obedient, but only if you love me. Because if you don’t love me, then don’t bother being obedient. Because I want you to be obedient only because you have the right motive of love for me.” For with Jesus, it is not the outward obedience that matters, but instead the inward love of the heart!”

Another beautiful thing about Jesus is that rather than forcing our hearts, he seeks to win it instead. The Bible says in I John 4:19. “We love Him, because He first loved us”. You see, the only reason why we love God is because He loves us first. In other words, love awakens love. For when we see the love that God has for us, it awakens within our hearts, love back to Him. And it is this love that makes us obedient to God. And it is this same love that I am learning to win my daughters heart with, so that she will willingly want to give me respect, simply because she loves me!

The only cure for a Culture of Entitlement is Love. A love that will not demand things of others in order to get privileges or special treatment, but a Love that will seek to win the hearts of others first, before asking them to do anything. And, also a Love that if denied of what one asks for, will be content and still have gratitude with whatever the outcome may be. This is True Love, which is God’s Love! And I want this Love, how about you? Keala

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