The Danger of Entitlement and How Its Message Is Impacting Your Personal Life, Church Life and Walk with God

Entitlement

We are bombarded by business, advertising and government with the “entitlement” message. This message is engrained in our culture and absorbed into virtually every fabric of society. Though you might not know what entitlement is, it is safe to say that its message is eating away at your personal life, church life and your relationship with the Lord.

I’m not interested in discussing broad business and governmental entitlements. I am focusing on what I see as a growing entitlement attitude that is pervasive throughout much of the church. This is my humble opinion for whatever it’s worth. And I want to let you all know that I write as one who is hugely impacted by the entitlement message but trying to loosen its grip on my life.

The Business of Entitlement

When advertisers say we are “entitled” to something it means that we have a “right to” or “deserve” it. For instance, “you owe it to yourself” to take that cruise or you “deserve”, that new gadget or car.

You’ve earned it. You deserve it. You owe it to yourself to have it. These statements are at the heart of the entitlement message.

Entitlement is on our billboards, fed to us through visual media such as television, movies and all forms of the internet. It comes across our radio stations and packaged on the products we purchase. Honestly, there is no getting around it. We are confronted daily with its message.

Do you remember this old jingle from McDonalds?

“You deserve a break today, so get up and get away to McDonalds”

Do you see the entitlement message here:

“You deserve a break today” – Don’t we all deserve some kind of a break? The answer would be YES! This is what McDonalds is saying you are entitled to.

In essence, McDonalds is connecting entitlement to its product. If you agree with their entitlement message then you will hopefully agree with the other half of the statement…”get up, get away, to McDonalds.”

Like I said, you cannot escape the message, its everywhere.

The Impact of Entitlement on the Church

Unfortunately this entitlement mindset is firmly planted in the minds of so many in our churches and worse yet, seeded into our relationship with God.

Time does not permit me to write how so many Pastors and ministry leaders feel the pressure to keep up with the entitlement demands of many in the church. Many Pastors and leaders are suffering burnout and leaving the ministry in record numbers. The entitlement demands are simply too great.

The Danger of Entitlement

Entitlement creates an inward, self focused, self-centered person. The sheer nature of the message is the importance, rights and benefits YOU deserve. We become the focus and the means to the end. God is reduced to someone who helps me get what I believe I am entitled to. This is an alarming reality.

This weird “spiritual” entitlement leads us to believe God owes us something, that He is in someway entitled to give us what we want. We have a right to material abundance, comfort, zero-problems, the nice house and all the other things our entitlement culture tells us we deserve.

entitlement-problem

Within the church culture, entitlement can be expressed with these sayings, “I deserve to be a part of this ministry”, “I have a right to this platform”, “I am entitled to this position”. Some believe they are entitled based on tenure, money and/or ministry experience. Regardless, living the christian life with feelings of what is owed to us, what we deserve and what we have a right to puts us in harms way.

Why Many Walk Away From The Lord

Many people leave the faith because “God didn’t work”. For many, the reason God didn’t work is because God was never made Lord of their lives. He was a means to get what they feel they were entitled to. When this didn’t happen it was a simple decision to move on to the next thing.

In many ways we as leaders have contributed to this by telling people that God will meet all their needs and give them all that they want or desire if they give their lives to Jesus. Again, this is not a clear gospel.

Though I believe God gives us gifts and wants to meet our needs, the heart of the salvation message is the fact that we stand guilty before a holy God. Our sin has separated us from our heavenly Father.

Provision has been made on the cross by Jesus to save us from our sin and remove our guilt. He will rescue us, redeem us and save us if we simply invite Him to be Lord of our lives.

We deserve to be eternally separated from God but now we enjoy knowing God our Creator, Father and friend based on the finished work of Jesus. There is much to be grateful for.

God Owes Us Nothing

So with regard to God and entitlement, let me be frank.

God owes us nothing. God is not entitled, obligated or in anyway relegated to give us anything. He is God. He gives because He wants to not because He has to.

He is the center of all things and we are not. All things exist for His good pleasure.

The Good News is that even though God owes us nothing, out of His great love He will give us what we need and even things we desire. Yet He is never entitled to give us a thing. It’s from unconditional love by grace that He gives.

The problem with entitlement is that it creates an attitude that puts a selfish demand on God’s generosity and creates conditions in the relationship that are unhealthy and I would dare say, deadly.

The Dark Side of Entitlement

If we believe that God owes us something then the measure of our thankfulness is now based on God’s performance and the entitlements we expect from Him. When we sense we have a right to something we distance ourself from grace and ultimately God.

To the extent that we fall into an entitlement trap we become more deserving in our own eyes and God’s grace gets less and less amazing in our estimation.

Before we know it, gratitude and thanksgiving are slowly replaced with bitterness, pride and envy.

Romans 1:21 “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

The verse above should get our attention in light of our discussion. When we become ungrateful and cease to give honor to the Lord our thinking becomes futile and are hearts grow dark.

Now the opposite is true. The more we honor and give thanks to God the mind becomes fruitful and our hearts become filled with light.

So How Can We Become Free of Entitlement?

I have a few thoughts around the above question. Since this post is already lengthy I will need to go after answering this question in another post.

Ending Thoughts

1. Is this helpful? Love to get your thoughts on this. What are you seeing regarding entitlement and it’s message? Do you see this reality in others, the church or even in your own life? Please let me know in the comments below.

2. Do you know someone who will find this conversation just as interesting as you? Take a second and use the social buttons below to share it with them. I create these blog posts for you and your closest friends.

3. Check out the other related posts below. Hope you find these helpful. You can also subscribe to my site below.

Instant Download
Receive Free "Ekklesia Rising"
Subscribe below and receive a free instant download of Pastor Greg's "Ekklesia Rising" In addition, you will have the convenience of having new posts delivered right to your email inbox. Read. Forward to Friends.Unsubscribe at any time.
Subscribe
*Privacy Guarantee: We will never share your e-mail address with anyone.
Written by
Greg Simas
Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

52 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
deandeguara
8 years ago

Entitlement is everywhere! I’ve never thought about it in the context of my relationship with God and probably never really self-examined to know if I’m blinded by it. It’s easy to spot in others! I might need to take the plank out of my own eye though. You pretty much nailed it…I think I’m going to go take a break now. I deserve it!

8 years ago

This is a very needed article and I think you stated it simply and yet pointed. We all have a propensity towards entitlement, and as a parent I find it one of the main battles I have in raising my kids to walk with the Lord rightly. I will definitely be sharing this article. This really hit me: “Many people leave the faith because “God didn’t work”. For many, the reason God didn’t work is because God was never made Lord of their lives. He was a means to get what they feel they were entitled to. When this didn’t… Read more »

William Scofield
8 years ago

Great article, Greg.

8 years ago

Great post Greg, thanks for sharing. 🙂 We are created to serve and worship God, not for Him to serve and worship us and that is what entitlement does when it comes into our relationship with God. This self centeredness is everywhere and media just floods us with the signal of putting ourselves first, which is the opposite of what Father wants. Father wants us to love our neighbour and treat them as we wish to be treated. I will be sharing this post on my blog. If you don’t mind, I will take a small snippet and link it… Read more »

8 years ago
Reply to  Child of God

Thank you Greg, I just shared this on my blog. 🙂 I am in total agreement with you here. Over the past year, Father has led me into studying George Mueller. Just reading about his life brought me into the realization that our culture is filtering into the church and people believe they are owed something. This is not the case with God or with a relationship with Him. All of the disciples of Jesus suffered greatly for their faith and they did not have the comforts of the world but they lived day by day depending totally on the… Read more »

Adrian Ko
8 years ago

Greg, a very good post! Thom S. Rainer’s article you linked to mentioned 7 exit interview quotes. Each made me wonder if they might be a byproduct of a culture that perceives the church as a service organization. Having been part of church leadership teams, I can relate to how much work goes into preparing people for a good ministry experience on a Sunday morning. I had also once worked retail and experienced the anticipation and preparation moments before we open the doors that morning to the public. But if people view church as a service organization, might it be… Read more »

Jennifer Wandler
8 years ago

This is a great article that articulates a very clear problem. I find that if I’m struggling in ANY area (marriage/faith/intimacy with God/laying my life down for my children), entitlement is THE number one problem. When I stop thinking I “deserve” something, and just thank God daily for the breath in my lungs, I serve with such a better attitude. So good. Thanks for sharing!

8 years ago

Great article Pastor Greg! I will be honest and admit that I have fallen into this trap before, thinking I deserved or was owed something from God because of a job well done etc. Truly, when my heart overflows with thanksgiving, simply for who he IS, my eyes are focused on Him and I see everything in my life as a blessing. God desires to give good gifts to His children. I must rest in knowing His ways are higher than mine, His thoughts greater and that He knows what is best for me.

BrianDelTurco
8 years ago

It seems the beautiful “irony” is when we release our pitiful sense of entitlement, over time we discover more and more of what He has in store. He wants to bring things into our lives we’re not even thinking of, and yet we are designed for … things that bring true joy and fulfillment. All along the way, He becomes our highest treasure …

Frank
8 years ago

I think this is not only an accurate observation, but perhaps the heart of God in terms of the consequence of this “culture” if left unchecked…alienation from our Father. Good word… God have mercy on us. Help us to be filled with gratitude & love for you & others not self indulgence.

Pete
8 years ago

This is good PG. I’ve always believed that a successful marriage is one where each person strives to serve the other. In that process, both will start to out serve each other and become blessed in the process. It should work that way in the church also; lok for ways to serve instead of being served…

Jeremy H.
8 years ago

Wow!! This was really great, thanks Papa Greg. I’ve definitely been dealing with this and felt this helped me see the proper perspective. 🙂

dkoon
8 years ago

Great article and very thought provoking!!! You are right in saying that God owes us nothing! In fact, we owe Him our lives because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. We all need to remind ourselves that God is not a Santa Claus nor a vending machine. If we demand God to give us this or that, then we are just using God for our own purpose. In fact, not only are we NOT to use God, but we need to yield to Him and let Him USE US for His purpose. We should be grateful if… Read more »

garrett
8 years ago

That vintage McDonald’s commercial is hilarious!

I’m glad that commercials today are more “refined” and can appeal to my sophisticated tastes and my true hearts desires. Some might call it “entitlement”…I just call it life
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttc9KEeM5lM

dkoon
8 years ago
Reply to  garrett

For those of us who are privileged to have more than basic needs, especially for those who have jobs that pay well and fortunately enough to have other kinds of blessings. We need to be reminded by the story of Esther. God gave us extras may be for the purpose that He is calling us to accomplish. To give unto the Kingdom of God, plus to REACH those people who are in social circles with special privileges that pastors and missionaries could not reach. If we have luxuries in life, it may mean that God is sending us to witness… Read more »

8 years ago

I see entitlement everywhere. It is sickening and makes me literally, nauseous. Whats worse is when the Lord nudges me and shows me the underlying entitlement in my own-self that I deny to be there. When I get frustrated that someone is not doing what they “should” be doing, or things aren’t working out the way they “should” be, or my kid isn’t “honoring” me as they “should”… ouch. my prayer then… FIRE God. Please in your mercy send your fire and burn out of me every thing that sets itself against Your glory. set us on fire God, sober… Read more »

8 years ago

A lot of us get an entitled attitude because there are a lot of pastors teaching us, “God promises this ‘n that to you. Hold on to those promises! Demand those promises!” Well, some of those “promises” aren’t. They’re out-of-context scriptures, manipulated to make us feel good, but God never promised us any such thing. “I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper and not harm you” (Jr 29.11) immediately comes to mind: God promised this to Jeremiah’s listeners, not us. Yet a lot of folks have been “promised” this prosperity. So they demand it, even though… Read more »

8 years ago
Reply to  K.W. Leslie

Thanks for responding. I would never want to say God doesn’t still make promises to people—and sometimes those promises look an awful lot like the scriptures. If God told me personally, “I have plans to prosper you and not harm you,” it sounds a lot like what he said thru Jeremiah—but it’s not the same message, and I would be wrong to claim it is. You’re quite right: Humility and thanksgiving must be an important part of our walk with God—and the natural response, and only attitude we should have, when we receive God’s promises. Never arrogance, never pride; that’s… Read more »

Cat
8 years ago

TRUTH. Thank you for sharing.

7 years ago

I realise I’m late to the party here but I just wanted to say first of all, thank you for writing this because I know it can’t have been an easy thing to write and put out there. This issue is something that bothers me both in the culture of the church and also in myself. And I think in many ways the evidence of it’s influence and pervasiveness is the extent to which God’s presence and power is being poured out in many places around the world (South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Korea, Northern China) where there is a… Read more »

Amy
6 years ago

I am so thankful to have come across this post. I am struggling with so many thi ng s right now. One being pointed out to me in church yesterday: Gratefulness vs. Entitlement. This is something I don’t think I ever really think about. You’re right, it seemingly has became apart of our culture, and I haven’t even noticed it. How very true, though! If we are thankful each day for what we have THAT day, as opposed of what we need or what we deserve, what a huge difference it will make in our attitudes, thus our lives. Thank… Read more »

Kathy
6 years ago

I certainly enjoyed reading your thoughts on ‘entitlement’ I have listened to some evangelical ministries that preach a sense of entitlement as if God has been set up to ‘provide’ to give, a one sided relationship. The Lord doesn’t have to do anything and He knows what is best for us, the thing is, will we continue to love Him when we don’t get what we think we should get and the way it should come, obviously some people opt out. Thankyou for bringing this to my attention. Kathy

Michael Arnold
5 years ago

In prayer I suddenly became aware of the fact that I was “thinking” entitlement so I googled “spirit of entitlement ” and came up with your blog.

Thank you for being so honest about the fact that you have struggled with this too.

We need to remember that everything this side of hell is pure grace but we so easily forget.

God bless you

Kirsten
5 years ago

I am so entitled it is beyond hideous.The Lord put it in my heart He was going to help me with this.I love Jesus -entitlement issues and all.

Brian Catton
4 years ago

Hi Greg, Very provocative and convicting. With your permission, I would like to borrow some of the points you share when I deliver a campus chapel message later on this year dealing with entitlement through the book of Philippians. Whether you agree or not, I’ll share something with you (not original by the way!)! Philippians 2 talks about how Christ did not count equality with God a thing to be GRASPED. Imagine if he did (and he would be right in doing so!); no salvation for anyone. In his great love, he emptied himself and died on the cross and… Read more »

3 years ago

This article would’ve been incredible if it had more scriptures and less opinions.

GREG SIMAS
Instant Download
Free eBook 
Ekklesia Emerging
Subscribe now and receive a FREE copy of Pastor Greg's new e-book: Ekklesia Emerging! Unsubscribe at any time.
SUBSCRIBE!
*Privacy Guarantee: I will never share your e-mail address with anyone.
close-link
Instant Download
Receive Free "Ekklesia Rising"
Subscribe below and receive a free instant download of Pastor Greg's "Ekklesia Rising" In addition, you will have the convenience of having new posts delivered right to your email inbox. Read. Forward to Friends.Unsubscribe at any time.
Subscribe
*Privacy Guarantee: We will never share your e-mail address with anyone.
close-link
52
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x