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  • Henry Haney

Keys To Killing Entitlement

Updated: Mar 6, 2019


Entitlement is not pretty. We are all aware of its ugliness but somehow this nasty attitude still finds a way of sneaking into our hearts and wreaking havoc on our relationships, ministries and organizations. As a worship leader and pastor, I have come face to face with this monster many times, in myself and in others.


Entitlement is the belief that you are, for one reason or another, deserving of privileges or some form of special treatment. This belief can be based on a number of different factors depending on the situation or the circumstances. Here are some fictional examples of entitlement that relate to ministry:


Rebecca scoffed at the opportunity to sing background vocals on the worship team at her new church. Though she had only been attending for a few months, she felt that her vast years of experience at her previous church entitled her to a lead position. Believing that the position offered to her was beneath her level of experience, Rebecca opted to disengage from worship altogether. She proceeded to plant herself in the back of the church every Sunday morning and operate in a passive aggressive attitude toward the worship pastor.


Jason has been involved with many different aspects of ministry over the years. He has also been close friends with the Pastor of his church since they attended High School together. These two facts caused Jason to become infuriated when he was not asked to be part of the newly chosen church leadership team. After all, many of the other people chosen hadn’t known the pastor nearly as long as Jason. As he spent time stewing in his anger he also realized that in the five years he had been part of his friend’s church he had never once been asked to preach on a Sunday. With his years of experience in ministry and his relational connection, Jason felt entitled to some time at the pulpit and also to be part of the leadership team. Rather than having a conversation with his friend and Pastor to inquire about these two issues, Jason made the decision that it was time for him to move on to a new church with a Pastor who would appreciate him more.


Gloria was a prayer warrior. She had led a Monday night women’s prayer group at her church faithfully for seven years. So, it was no surprise that she felt a rush of excitement when it was announced during Sunday service that there would be an upcoming conference happening at her church with a focus on prayer ministry. Her excitement was challenged, however, following the service. Gloria stopped at the information table to find out more about the conference and was shocked at the cost of registration. She reasoned that her years of leading the women’s prayer group should entitle her to a free reserved seat at the front of the sanctuary during the conference. When her demands were not met, she chose to skip the conference. Over the course of the next few months her enthusiasm for the woman’s prayer group declined. She often failed to show up on time and a few times didn’t show up at all. This was frustrating or the rest of the group and Gloria was eventually asked to step down from leading the group.


In these examples you can see how entitlement ultimately became the root cause of unnecessary loss. Rebecca lost an opportunity, Jason lost a friendship and Gloria lost her passion, her ministry as well as her position as a leader. These are big losses; but I have known people that have lost much more due to the grip of entitlement on their hearts.


The truth is that entitlement is not a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). It doesn’t fit into the definition of God’s love that we are commanded by Jesus to display with our lives (John 13:34). If we are claiming to be a follower of Jesus and we are displaying an attitude of entitlement, it is a screaming alarm of warning that something within us needs an adjustment.


“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Proverbs 4:23


What flows from the heart? Everything we do.

It’s not our words alone but also our thoughts, our attitudes, our actions … everything.


Who’s responsibility is it to guard your heart? It’s Yours.

Whatever is happening in your heart will eventually find its way into everything that you do. If life has become a mess, it may be time to follow the stream back to its source and make some adjustments. However, we don’t have to wait for things to get messy before we begin to implement a better guard of our heart. There are plenty of things we can do to assure we are guarding and stewarding our hearts well when it comes to entitlement.


THREE KEYS TO KILLING ENTITLEMENT:


1. GRATITUDE


“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


It is crucial for us to work at maintaining a posture of thanksgiving toward God in all circumstances, not just the ones we like. This can require quite a bit of intentional heart work when we feel overlooked or undervalued. In the end, however, the work is well worth the payoff . Our focus moves from a self-centered perspective to a God-centered perspective. Ultimately, through gratitude and praise, we come to a place in our hearts of letting go of entitlement and trusting God’s timing and intentions toward us in all things.


2. SERVICE


“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Philippians 2:3-4


In all that He did, Jesus modeled the most powerful form of leadership that exists; servant-leadership. This has nothing to do with some false form of humility. On the contrary, it’s about knowing your worth, value, identity and authority and using those things to build-up and serve others rather than yourself. Service empowers us to see outside of ourselves and put the love we are called to live into action. Entitlement can not survive in the heart of a genuine servant.


3. CELEBRATE OTHERS


“Rejoice with those who rejoice...”

Romans 12:15


It can be difficult to watch as someone else receives the promotion or breakthrough that we are dreaming about, hoping for and contending for. However, these are some of the most powerful opportunities provided to us for learning how to guard our hearts. A great tool for shutting down feelings of jealousy, envy and entitlement is actually to move in the complete opposite spirit by rejoicing and giving thanks. Praise God for what He is doing with that person or those people. This simple act will realign your heart with His.


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These are three simple but highly effective tools. When put into practice they are sure to bring about an adjustment in the area of entitlement. Remember, everything flows from the heart and your heart has only has one assigned guard. Keep a close watch on things.


What are some additional methods that you have used to guard your heart from entitlement? Leave a comment below.


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©2019 by Henry Haney.