Entitlement Mentality (not me, Lord! Right???)

4 Oct

Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

The word “entitlement” has been overused so much lately that it is almost meaningless at this point.

I hear older people use it to criticize the young. I hear Republicans use it to criticize Democrats; Democrats to criticize Republicans. I hear middle class people use it to criticize the poor who receive money from federal poverty programs. I hear other middle class people use it to criticize the rich who receive tax breaks for their businesses.

It is almost always used to criticize someone else, not the speaker himself.

I have taken to asking myself if I have an entitlement mentality. I have concluded that I do. But, wait, before you gloat, ask yourself whether you do also. I am convinced that most people, unless they were treated horridly by parents or peers in their formative years, have entitlement mentality issues just like me.

We believe we are entitled to a smooth ride in life and anyone who disrupts our “flow of traffic” can earn negative attention for that action!!! No, not the type of attention where we actually confront the person in anger–most Christians, followers of other faiths, and atheists I know pride themselves on being far too nice to openly confront someone. Oh, no, we do it with our eyes, with little suppressed smiles that tip a person off that we are secretly laughing at him, with “coded” comments that sound so nice on the surface but somehow leave a person feeling deflated . . . the thousand little tricks that otherwise “nice” people use to get hostile with others who get in their way!

Here are a few examples:
(1) Is it hard to be genuinely nice to the person who only calls when she wants something from you? That is probably because we feel “entitled” to two-way relationships in this world. It is hard for us to comprehend that some people are not, by nature, givers.

Some of the “takers” were the folks who were treated horridly as a child–they have never developed a “reservoir of good will” from which to relate to others. They may spend their entire lives as “takers.” We have got to be okay with that. We don’t always need to be the ones giving to them, but we have got to be okay with their identity as “takers” and just accept it.

Jesus Christ was okay with the fact that the whole human race was a group of “takers” in relationship to Him and His sacrifice for us. We have got to be willing to follow His example sometimes.

That is not to say that we are never called to teach other people to respond in Biblical ways. It is just to say that we will meet many, many people in this life who will not be our students . . . In my Navy career, I have probably met over 10,000 people. And I have probably been called to teach Bible truth, in classes or one-on-one, to only about 500 of those.

With the rest, I have to be willing to let it go if they behave toward me in a “taker” mode. After all, God was willing, for Christ’s sake, to let it go when I did that to Him!

(2) Is it hard to not get your dander up when someone waits till the last minute to cut into that off-ramp or tunnel lane you are in? It is for me. I am working on teaching myself to automatically assume someone will either be in the wrong lane due to being lost (a tourist) or due to thinking he is far more important than I am and shouldn’t have to wait in a lane like I have been (his own entitlement mentality). I have been proactively waving the first person in the wrong lane into the lane ahead of me.

Notice, I did not say I stop and let all ten people who are in the wrong lane in. But it is not going to hurt me to let in one person. It might even help me to have less of an entitlement mentality, which, in this case, assumes that I am entitled to make every exit without slowing down for anyone!

(3) Is it frustrating to shop in a busy store when you see people moving slowly down the very center of an aisle, with a cart, so no one can pass them in either direction? I used to mentally call those people “water buffalo” because they meander about just as aimlessly as a buffalo at a water hole, while all around them people are trying to get in and get out of the store on a schedule.

However, once again, my whole attitude reveals the fact that I have an immense entitlement mentality about not having to wait for slow or indecisive people in any venue I enter. That is just not Biblical. Some of these folks may be going slowly due to physical or mental disabilities. I should be thanking God for my strong body and mind that enable me to “nip in and out of a store in ten minutes or less” rather than resenting the people who can’t, even if they are oblivious to the presence of others and stand right in their way when they could share space more cooperatively.

My final exam on overcoming my entitlement mentality will probably someday consist of a rerun of the most ridiculous “water buffalo” scenario I ever saw. A woman with a cart full of groceries and about ten people behind her was exiting a Walmart.  She stopped in the very door to pick up her cell phone and dial a call!!! It took at least one minute for someone to get her attention and get her to step out of the doorway to complete the call. I wasn’t mean to her but I am sure my eyes told a different story . . . (and I was laughing at her as well, because I simply couldn’t believe anyone could be that oblivious to her fellow shoppers!).

I have met my entitlement mentality and, no, it isn’t pretty.

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