I have recently been thing about the whole concept of entitlement because of some reading I have been doing about the millennial generation. Having an entitlement mentality is believing that I should have certain privileges or options just because of who I am, or sometimes just because I exist in this place or time. Often times in our American culture the “privileges” become “rights.”
As much research has shown Millennials (those born between 1981 and 2004) a very entitled generation. They grew up in the era where everyone got a trophy just for showing up. But one of the things I have notices is that all of us have some level of entitlement.
People have entitlements based on a number of things:
- Status in life
- Age (young or old)
- Longevity in an organization
- Amount given to an organization
This happens at many levels in church life. I have heard in 29 years of church life and they all revolve around the statement, “You should follow my advice and do things my way because I:
- Have been a faithful member for X years.
- Give a great deal of money to the church.
- Am a charter member.
- Sit on the board.
- Am a member.
- Am elderly
- Am a future leader of the church
- Am a business owner, military officer
- Have an advanced degree
I could go on and on.
The problem with all of these statements is that they go completely counter to the spirit of Jesus who,
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. – Philippians 2:6–8 (NLT)
The focus of an entitlement attitude is what I want to happen rather than the mission God has sent us to accomplish. That kind of entitlement is found in us all.
As an individual, I have certain preferences myself. But those preferences must be subservient to the mission of the church and the methods it will take to accomplish that mission in our current cultural context. It is a sad idea but often the perceived privilege of membership trumps the mission every time.
But what if, as leaders, we could cultivate that opposite attitude. What if we were to say, “Whatever it takes for the mission”?
Honestly, there would be a lot of negative consequences, but a lot of positive ones as well. I think the world has not seen this kind of attitude in the church in a long time. But, what if it began with you and m