"....... for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" Psalm 103:14

Am I entitled??

Photo by Azat Satlykov on Unsplash
Entitled............. ummm, it's not the kind of word I would choose to associate with myself (obviously, I mean who wants to be thought of in that way?)

But it does sometimes come to mind when I think of the "millennial" generation. In an article on the Forbes website, titled "Millennials and entitlement in the workplace: the good, the bad and the ugly", the author defines entitlement as basically being a belief that:

...... you're owed something intrinsically................... millennials typically ask for a salary far higher than what they're worth, or expect a job immediately after graduating from college, just because they graduated.

The author goes on to describe how:

...... millennials were raised by baby boomer and Gen X parents who spoiled them..............they were awarded participation trophies just for showing up to competitive events ............... they grew up to believe that the world already owed them something, and complain when they don't immediately get it. 

Okay, a generalisation, but some bells going off there too.

My millennials
My kids are millennials. Born in 1988 and 1991, they grew up with baby boomer parents who DID encourage them for participating, and whose hearts were warmed when they brought home awards, not just for high academic achievement, but for other far more admirable qualities and lifeskills, like "most friendly" or "honesty award" or "helpful and kind".

Yes, we told them they were special, not (only) for their abilities but simply because they were unique and dearly loved. I remember my youngest son made me laugh one year when he saw an advertisement on TV for the "Special Children's Christmas Party". He watched and listened intently, then turned to me and asked "Mummy, can I go to the Special Children's Christmas Party? 'Cos I'm special". Yes, my love, you are, but let me explain..........

What does entitled look like?
When I think of someone who has a sense of entitlement, it's not exactly a favourable assessment. Because it's more than wanting the best, wanting it all, and wanting it now. As the above quote states, it's thinking that the world "owes" them something - material possessions, comfort, an amazing holiday, well-behaved children, a great career, good health, money in the bank, awesome friends, happiness, a peaceful existence, even a quiet five minutes.

Believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment or even just a trouble-free life. Being ENTITLED, in fact, to whatever it is that the heart desires.

A humourous Hollywood example
When I'm flying long-haul, my usual modus operandi is to watch a swathe of movies, starting before we even leave the ground. I work out the flight time, then pick a selection that will see me through to just minutes before we exit the plane at the other end (yes, I'm that organised).

On a flight not so long ago I watched a movie called "Bad Moms". Yes, I'll admit it wasn't the most morally upright movie I've ever seen, but it did have some really funny moments, and there's nothing like lots of smiles and a few belly laughs to make an otherwise boring, long-haul flight more enjoyable and seem to go faster. One particular scene in this movie had me laughing out loud. In it, one of the "bad moms" was debating with her teenage son about the need for him to do his own homework, and not expect her to do it for him (as she had habitually done, thus setting the scene for the ensuing conversation).

You'd probably have to see the clip yourself to fully appreciate it (and you can watch it here if you're so inclined), but essentially the conversation went like this:

The son: This sucks. I can't believe you're making me cook my own breakfast every single day.
The mom: You're doing awesome, buddy. You really are!
The son: Hey, so where's my science project?
The mom: Oh, I didn't do it.
The son: What? But it's due today!
The mom: Yeah.
The son: That's so unfair!
The mom: I know. I know. I'm so sorry. But you're gonna actually have to start doing your own homework from now on.
The son: I am a slow learner, remember?
The mom: You're not a slow learner, you're just entitled. Honey, do you know what entitled means?
The son: No, because I'm a slow learner.
The mom: It means that mommy and daddy have been spoiling you, and now you think the world owes you something. But it doesn't. And if you don't learn how to work hard now, then you're just gonna grow up to be, like, another entitled white dude, who thinks he's awesome for no reason. And then you'll start a scar band, and it'll be awful, and you'll be mean to girls, and you'll grow this ironic moustache to look interesting. But you won't actually BE interesting. And I'm not okay with that. So will you please, please just do your own homework.

I laughed out loud. Which is always a funny experience on a plane, sitting there with earphones, watching the screen and laughing. Loudly. I laughed because of the interaction between this entitled teenage boy and his mum, but also because I thought about my own son, who is a millennial, and who has had the odd "ironic" and interesting moustache in his time, as well as his own experiences in a scar band.......... Anyway, I digress!

But am I also entitled?
Lately I've been wondering. Am I entitled?

When I think I've "earned" a rest?
When I try to live the life I "want"?
When I supposedly "need" a holiday?
When I think I "deserve" to be happy?
When I think I should be able to spend my money "the way I see fit"?
When I "just want" a quiet 5 minutes? (it's not too much to ask, is it??)
When I believe I've paid my taxes all these years, so I "should" be able to........ (whatever)?
When I've worked hard all day and think I'm "entitled" not to have to cook and clean all evening?

What?? Do I really think I'm entitled to all that??

It was a sobering time of reflection, and I realised that I don't have to be a millennial to start thinking that I'm entitled. It creeps up on me so easily.

The world bombards me with "entitlement" messages.
"You deserve a break"
"Go on, treat yourself"
"You have every right to happiness"
"You're worth it"

Where is the truth?
So. It turns out I AM quick to think I "need" or "want" or "deserve" whatever it might be. But what I'm really talking about here is my pride - living according to the world's system of self-reliance and refusing to let go of "getting what I want".

In the book of James, the author quotes Proverbs 3:34, which relates a simple but powerful idea - God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Ouch.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the church at Philippi, writes this:

I am not saying this [about the Philippians' concern for him] because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)

Definitely not the words of an entitled man.

So it's not entitlement, but rather humility and contentment, that I would do well to keep cultivating in my life. It helps to stop listening to what I need or want or desire, and instead listen to and focus on what Jesus wants, needs and desires for me (the fruit of the Spirit, joyfulness, prayerfulness, thankfulness).

Not entitled, but blessed
I am actually entitled to exactly NOTHING in this life. But in His great mercy "every good gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights" (James 1:17). I am blessed.

I am thankful that though I deserve nothing, everything I have - my home, my husband, my friends, my finances, my children, my job, my everything - is a gift from a loving and sovereign God who gives out of His abundant riches and great love.

So much more than I deserve.

14 comments

  1. I really love your blog, Sue. I love the way that so many of your posts, like this one, are a personal testimony of what God is doing in your heart and life. They aren't full of advice for other people (e.g."Ten Ways to Avoid an Entitlement Attitude") and yet your self-reflection counsels me.

    Sometimes, when I am feeling discontent and entitled to certain things, I start to feel annoyed too. Because I realise what you have pointed out in this post - I am entitled to exactly NOTHING (well, except death and eternal punishment, but who wants that?). But I really wish I was and so I get annoyed with God that I'm not! Talk about heaping sin upon sin... anyway, it is a humbling thing to realise how little good we deserve, but I think it magnifies God's mercy and grace all the more to come to terms with it. He really has been so awfully kind to us spoiled, entitled human beings. xox

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    1. Thank you sweet friend! What you say is true, it is humbling to realise that we deserve nothing, but it's also a very challenging perspective, and the world (and the enemy) just wants to keep divesting us of it. It's not a popular thought and it won't win us many friends I suspect, but then the goal is sanctification not popularisation :)
      Thanks for your thoughtful comment xx

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  2. Sue, I'm a new reader of your blog. This was a fabulous post. It got me thinking about my own sense of entitlement. It's so easy for me to call it and judge it when I think it's occurring in others but when it comes to my thoughts and actions well, I'm different, aren't I? Or more correctly, no I'm not.

    SSG xxx

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    1. It's always so much easier to spot it (and by that I mean ANY of my foibles) in others, I always find. It's when it dawns on me that I'm no different that things start to get a little uncomfortable, to say the least!! Thanks for reading and for your kind comment SSG. I'm heading over to your blog to take a look now xx

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  3. I love this more than I can say. I gave birth to a gen Y'er (she's 20) who's just on the edge of millenial. I saw so much of that seriously funny dialogue in real life when she was going to school. In our part of Sydney the number of women who looked down their noses at me because she had to get herself ready for school, do her own assignments, do her own hair, make her own breakfast...let's just say I'd love a dollar. In return for my "neglect" I have a daughter who is respectful, independent, self-sufficient & prepared to work for what she wants - and to save...which is an unusual concept in this day and age. Yes, she still lives at home - and still likes to do things with us... especially if we pay lol...

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    1. Well done Jo, you've done a great job. It's gratifying to discover that we've raised good kids, that all the hard work and the "swimming upstream" was worth it in the end. How nice to have young adults who are all those good things. Parenting is indeed a challenge, especially when "everyone else is allowed to...... (whatever it is)" but well-rounded young adults don't just happen by accident!!
      Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment xx

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  4. I have two children too born in 1998 and 1990, so I understand the millennial generation completely. I think if we had allowed it our two children would have been very entitled, but fortunately we never over-indulged them, despite their protests. There is an "entitled" generation out there, but thankfully there are still some old-fashioned parents making sure that their kids are not getting too spoilt. #TeamLovinLife

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    1. I'm thankful for that too, Kathy! There is always so much pressure as parents to do things the way others do, even when it goes against one's better judgement. I'm glad that my ex-husband and I were of one accord in parenting our boys and, like you, didn't over-indulge them and gave them firm boundaries. They didn't always like them, but now that they're adults they sometimes say that they appreciate the way they were parented. That kind of feedback is so nice and confirms for me that we were on the right track! Thanks for reading and commenting xx

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  5. I love this cos I so often feel as if I'm 'owed' (and I'm far from a millennial!). I think we balk at the use of entitlement because it has so many negative connotations but in its true meaning it is certainly relevant. For me it's about my expectations, which is a far more comfortable word for me.... #teamlovinlife

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    1. The word certainly does have negative connotations Deb, and it was a bit of an uncomfortable process for me to consider the extent of my own sense of entitlement!! I'm still mulling over the issues of contentment and joy, and I know you've posted on these before too. I find that when I hold my expectations too tightly, my contentment is inversely proportional!! No surprises there.
      Thanks for reading and commenting xx

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  6. I know many many who think they are entitled. Yikes. Happy to read your post! Visiting from bloggers pit stop. I love how you ended the post too!

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    1. Thanks Susan, yes it's an easy trap to fall into, especially if I listen too closely to the world's warped messages! Thanks for stopping by, for reading and for commenting! Have a blessed day xx

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  7. This is a very interesting article with lots of food for thought.

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    1. Thanks Robbie, I appreciate that you took the time to read and comment! xx

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