Entitlement. The word is splashed across social media, the news, talk shows, and even books.
An entitlement mentality says, “You owe me.” It demands that you do something for me. Treat me special or unique—just because. And yet I have no particular responsibility in return. Tragically, this entitlement mentality has spread even into the church.
According to Dr. John Townsend, bestselling author and psychologist of the recently released book The Entitlement Cure, “We live in a culture that says, ‘Life should be easy and work well.’ This attitude manipulates the way important institutions — family, business, church, and government — behave. Its devastating effects contribute to relational problems, work-ethic issues, and emotional struggles. People are not getting to where they want to go because they don’t know how to do life the hard way,” Townsend declares. Entitlement keeps them from tackling challenges and finding success.”
“Wants have been transformed into “rights” in America and ultimately into obligations and entitlements.” Charles Skyes
I’m not going to tackle the issues of the politics or social policies in this article. But I DO want to talk about how the entitlement mentality is demonstrated in the church.
I have spoken to missionary friends throughout the years that have highlighted this for me. One couple has watched close friends jailed for attending Bible study. Others spent years witnessing to people in living conditions where daily meals and clean water are luxuries. When they returned to the States, the missionaries were shocked at the little value Christians place on their freedom. The American attitude of what they “should” have was disheartening when they recalled those who truly lived in poverty.
“Here’s the sad thing. Although we saw poverty at its greatest in the third world countries, we see spiritual poverty at its greatest in the world’s richest country,” one missionary said.
Has entitlement brought us to spiritual poverty within the Western church?
Has entitlement brought us to "spiritual poverty" within the Western church?https://t.co/GrNytKnxGZ
— Beckie Lindsey (@BeckieLindsey_) October 11, 2016
The entitlement mentality rears its ugly head within the church when we believe:
- It’s All About Me!
- I don’t need to work at spiritual growth regularly.
Thinking this way leads to other selfish thoughts such as,
- How can I get God to do what I want?
- What good will this Bible study (service, event) do for me?
- I don’t like the music here. I’m staying home.
- Why does the pastor always “nag” at us?
Church attendance is not a “suggestion”, It’s God’s will for believers (Hebrews 10:25). When a person gives his/her life to Jesus Christ, he becomes part of the body of Christ—the church (1 Corinthians 12:27). For a church body to be healthy, all it’s “parts” must be present and working (1 Corinthians 12:14-20). This takes discipline. Daily prayer and scripture reading takes discipline. Being loving when others are not, takes discipline. And yet having an entitlement mindset bucks discipline.
Having an attitude of entitlement underminds a foundational mission of God’s church—loving service to God, His church, and our neighbor.
We have a serious problem when we begin to think that God “owes” us.
During this monumental election season, I’m reminded of the famous quote by John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”
Perhaps as Christ followers, we should be asking less of, “What can God do for me? What can the church do for me? What can others do for me? What can the government do for me?”
Instead, I wonder what would happen if you and I asked more of, “What can I do for God, my country, and my neighbor?”
What are your thoughts?
Recently I’ve learned we should look for where God is working and join Him. Instead of telling Him what we are going to do and asking His blessing! New way of thinking and it’s made me open my eyes to see His activity. Thanks for the great post.
Tammy, You are so correct. God is always at work! A daily prayer of mine is to show me where HE is working and line up (or throw out) my agenda to His. What a wonderful point. Thanks for bringing it up and for taking the time to comment.
Blessings to you and yours!
Amen, Beckie! The entitlement mentality is a crippling one, that’s for sure. It should never be about what others/God can do for us, but what we can do for them/Him. Just more evidence of how the secular culture has infiltrated the church. 🙁 Let us pray!
Martha, Yes, we are called to be lights IN this world, but not OF this world (culture). When the church starts looking like the world, we aren’t doing our job. Thanks for commenting. You are so correct—we need to pray for the church to wake up.
Blessings back to you, sweet sister!
Hi, Beckie! The Prayer Walk reference to your blog will appear tomorrow on mine. Hope you like it, and hope it generates some more traffic to your wonderful blog! http://marthaorlando.blogspot.com
Thanks, Martha! Here’s another thing you may be interested in.
From Kirk Cameron, “We are calling for a NATIONAL FAMILY MEETING. It’s called “REVIVE US.”
On October 18, in cities across America, we’ll gather for a 2 hour LIVE interactive national family meeting.
Here’s the link:
So true! We’ve grown far too comfortable for our own good. This is why it’s important to impress on our kids the importance of doing things even (and most especially) in the absence of feelings. We go to worship to honor God and serve others. When we go merely to satisfy ourselves, we will feel entitled and our service will become shallow.
Elihu, Yes, thanks for bringing up teaching our children the importance of doing things in the absence of “feelings”. Great point!
In our Bible study time, my husband and I recently noticed that, when Paul describes the horrific characteristics of people in the perilous end times, the FIRST thing he mentions is that people will be “lovers of themselves” (see 2 Timothy 3.2). Can I suggest that so much emphasis on “self-esteem” has been extremely detrimental to a healthy view of ourselves as people in need of redemption and change?
The Gospel doesn’t say, “Love yourselves because you’re so wonderful and great that God just HAD to save you.” The Gospel says God loved us when we were yet sinners, UNdeserving of God’s grace.
Jesus calls us to love one another, not just as we love ourselves, but there’s a higher law than that, which He calls all disciples to: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” As HE has loved us. That is, to the point of sacrificing His life for us. That’s the measure of how much we should love each other.
And Paul repeatedly reminds us of this with verses such as “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others *MORE* significant than yourselves.”
If we went back to reading our Bibles and not basing our faith on pop psychology, we would truly see how much we fall short of this ideal. Only with true repentance comes cleansing and sanctification. We won’t heal until we recognize we have a huge problem in this area.
I couldn’t have said it better. I appreciate your comment. I’m glad you brought up the scripture that helps us understand what we are seeing in our culture.I should have thought to include it in the article—especially since I’m in the process of editing a study that I coauthored on the book of 2 Timothy entitled, Legacy. You can take a sneak peak if you click on the “books and studies” tab on my blog.
Thanks and blessings to you and yours!
I was planning to write a blog entry on that passage in 2 Timothy, because it really strikes as an incredibly accurate x-ray of the world we’re living in (I live in Argentina, and here it’s basically the same thing as over there, the same selfishness and egocentrism) every time I read it. Well, it seems before I write my own entry I will read your insights on this. 🙂
Let the Bible and what God is telling you be your guide. I look forward to reading your blog entry.
True Beckie, we always thinks that Gid owes something to us. May be not directly, but indirectly. People tithe and look for blessing. It becomes a two way contract.
To be very frank, I always wanted to do something for my country. But I don’t know how and where to start. Believing for God to lead
Mary, There is something very powerful that you can start doing right now for our country—PRAY. I know, it sounds like you’re not really doing anything, but in actuality, it’s very powerful. You can also join up with thousands of others who are praying for our country at, http://www.ifapray.org/
My last article was about “Prayerwalking”. You may want to take a look at that as well. Here’s the link:
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. May the Lord bless you!
Becky, you’re very right about the key importance of intercessory prayer, and I have experienced its power in my own life. You may not see immediate results in the people you’re praying for, but it sure does change YOUR heart. Praying for others increases your compassion towards other people, and decreases your self-centeredness. For that alone, intercessory prayer is a powerful tool in the sanctification process we all need to go through. And it does help break down the barriers that we sometimes build to avoid people hurting us.
Mary, I pray that the Lord will give you the heart of a warrior who can win lots of battles in intercessory prayer.
Sure will do Beckie.:)
What a God-inspired article. It definitely addresses the troubles of all institutions, sad that the church is one of them. Good job!
Deborah, Yes indeed it’s sad that the church has found herself caught up in the entitlement mentality on some levels. But I do believe there is hope as long as we are willing to look humbly to Jesus for correction. I’m seeing the tide changing in the USA. I’m sensing a revival. Let’s commit to diligent prayers for our nation.
Thanks for taking the time to comment. Blessings on you and yours!
I agree! I’ve seen a lot of this in the church, especially when it comes to music, but also when it comes to sermons. Our society in general has taken on this attitude. I know one thing: it’s not a helpful attitude. Thank you for bringing up the subject.
Heather, Thanks for taking the time to comment. I think each of us must check our own attitudes as well as pray for the church at large.
Good post, Beckie! Entitlement is just another word for idolatry – with our selfishness on the throne. Scripture never says to seek God’s hands. We are told to seek His face – His character and calling on our lives.
Sherry, I agree with you about entitlement being another word for idolatry. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Blessings on you as you let your light shine!
Beckie, You are spot on. I see entitlement everwhere. I believe every Christian should do ministry work in a third world country, even for just 1 week. I lived in Honduras for 3 months. I cherished my hand me down skirt and old shoes. They were like royal robes and ruby slippers to the locals. I witnessed the joy of having nothing from my brothers and sisters in Honduras and the angst of only having 4 pairs of shoes from another here in the states. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for sharing about the missionary work you did in Honduras and the effects it had on you even today. You touch on the all-important subject of “service”—whether we serve abroad or here in our own country. Christians should look for opportunities to serve. There are elderly, homeless, after school children’s programs, etc. right here in the US. Or, as you have mentioned, there are many short-term mission team projects.
Thanks for commenting.