By LISA OWENS
Overcome an Entitlement Mentality
A sense of entitlement may not be the best characteristic for a Christian, yet if I’m honest, I feel somewhat entitled about certain things. If our water goes off at the house, I feel it should come back on by the time I get home from the office. If I’m in a long line, I’m looking for someone to open a new line quickly. When someone does not treat me as I think they should, I am offended because I feel entitled to be treated in a certain manner.
Without even realizing it, most of us feel entitled to a comfortable life, and a peaceful life with quiet neighbors and loving family, with a relatively problem-free existence. Whenever I don’t have these things, and I voice a complaint, it reveals that I need further character development in patience, consideration, and giving gracious responses (as quick, knee-jerk reactions are habits for many of us).
If we are honest, we probably are struggling with entitlement issues, but we may also be struggling with insecurity issues. In God’s kingdom, I have privileges in Christ, and I am learning that this understanding needs to be applied in practical ways. Growing in Christ has not been a boring path for me. As a teenager, I heard the gospel, embraced it, and it changed my life.
I believed and received His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), His goodness and love set me free from my slavery to sin. His promises have been what I cling to, and year after year, day after day, I partake from the spring of living waters, which hopefully flows out of me to others. I do count it a high privilege to be a counselor. Others are allowing me to participate in their lives.
I am also mindful of my weaknesses, and I check myself when I react to a feeling of entitlement. Yes, all His promises are yea and amen in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20), and all things are possible to him who believes (Matthew 21: 20-21). But God is sovereign and I am not. Partakers participate. I do not take for granted being a child of God. The stark realities of life would be unbearable for me without His divine upholding and care.
Participating in His plans for me has been an adventure. We had our first child while serving as missionary teachers in a Third World country. Back in the United States, an important part of my training was being a foster parent to children who had suffered trauma beyond their control. Raising our daughters caused me to draw on God as I dealt with fear and worried about their safety. Being married to a teacher has many times caused me to rely on God’s peace and wisdom.
I know His yoke is easy, and His burden is light, even when I feel stretched. Seasons in life have shown me that He does provide rest and help in His perfect timing. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness, and peace for those who have been trained by it,” (Hebrews 12:11).
I want my fellow brothers and sisters to take the challenge to partake, drink deeply, and eat well, for He is good, and to participate in the adventure of following Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20). It can be the best way to overcome depression, anxiety, and hopelessness—and to provide meaningful alternatives to being saturated with culture-driven, shallow lifestyles that in the end do not satisfy.
Shaking up our lifestyles can start with evaluating where we’ve been sucked into a merciless system of nothingness. Do we really want to allow ourselves to unintentionally be dictated by trends that may or may not be “good for the soul”? It takes thoughtful awareness, analysis, evaluative time, and courage to change, but it will be worth it whether we take baby steps or endeavor in major lifestyle overhauls in our daily lives.
Be encouraged that most habits, in order to be formed or change, take around a month of work. But changed habits and lifestyles can become realities if there is focus and practice. We may need to take away, as well as add, and steps can be made incrementally. Goal setting can be broken down into doable steps.
Partaking and participating in God’s value system may happen this very moment for someone reading this who decides to embrace the gospel of Christ. That is my prayer and heartfelt desire. May this be an experience of His fullness as we thankfully partake and participate in all Christ is.
Lisa Owens is nationally certified counselor (NCC), with a Masters of Science (M.S.) in Marriage and Family counseling. She sees individuals, couples, and families at Summit Counseling.