Recognizing Entitlement

I need to make a confession. My tolerance for discomfort is diminishing with each passing birthday. I find myself grumbling about the weather because it makes outdoor exercise and gardening difficult or impossible. I roll my eyes when someone pulls into that parking space before me. I scoff at the coworker who puts the project behind schedule forcing me to work later than I intended. I feel my blood pressure rise as my high school student cries about the National Honor Society students who “berate” the non members for academic underachievement. These things make me uncomfortable, and if I’m honest, they make me uncomfortable because somewhere in my mind, there is this belief that I’m exempt from responsibility and am owed special treatment. This belief is known as entitlement.

Entitlement has been a problem since the birth of humankind. Adam and Eve had everything they needed to live and thrive. But they thought they deserved something more–forbidden fruit–a desire to have special treatment that only God deserved. There is not one person on this earth that doesn’t fall prey to entitlement thinking at some point in their life. It’s the person who thinks the weather should be perfect for him/her to be able to take a jog without getting wet because he/she makes an effort to exercise. It’s the person who thinks having to park farther away is unfair because he/she deserves to be closer to the store. It’s the person that believes he/she deserves to leave work on time because his/her value to the company is perceptually greater than coworkers. It’s the person that cannot applaud the success of others and expects special treatment for mediocre performance. It’s the person that feels his/her child should be recognized in the absence of noteworthy achievement.

Do any of the following statements hit a nerve?

  • “The company is lucky to have me.”
  • “Why should I do all the work?”
  • “I have a right to an opinion. People should appreciate that I don’t sugarcoat. It’s a free country, and I can say what I want. If it offends someone, that’s their problem.”
  • “Are you growing green beans this year? Good, I won’t buy any. Why should I do all the work to start a garden when you can just give me some of yours?”
  • “Why should I go to all the trouble and expense of finding a daycare when my parents are retired? I deserve to have free in-home childcare because I work, and I’d have to work more, get up earlier, or rush to get home if I had to hire someone.”

Though entitlement manifests itself in many ways, there is one common denominator:  it’s a choice. People choose to have an entitlement mentality. Fortunately, because it’s a choice, people can choose not to pursue entitlement thinking. According to Dr. John Townsend, this boils down to choosing the Easy Way or the Hard Way. Why choose the Hard Way? Because the alternative can result in companies full of unmotivated employees, parents raising self-centered children, broken marriages, abusive leaders who demand respect based on a position of authority instead of earning it through character, and people wandering through life looking for the next handout instead of earning a living.

To learn more about the Hard Way, follow this blog for the next post. There is a remedy for entitlement thinking that promises to provide impactful positive results.

©, April 27, 2018


J. Townsend, The Entitlement Cure Finding Success In Doing Hard Things The Right Way, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015. pp. 19-25.

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