A buzzword that keeps appearing on my radar these days is ‘entitlement’—the notion or belief that one (or oneself) is deserving of some particular reward or benefit (Wikipedia). Often entitlement refers to monetary ‘rights’ or handouts owed to a person by government programs—“I’m not working, so someone else needs to pay my bills.” Touchy subject, especially nowadays regarding health insurance . . . don’t get me started on that one, though.
Narcissistic people are masters of entitlement, holding unreasonable expectations of preferred treatment because they are somehow more ‘special’, and if they don’t get what they think they deserve, everyone around them pays a price in one way or another.
You hear the phrases, “Not fair!” “I deserve better!” “They OWE me!” “I need, I want. Me! Me! MEEE!” The ‘ME Monster’ rears its head and it is not a pretty picture—obvious to everyone except to the superior person herself.
Let’s face it, our society is increasingly becoming more self-centered—we get impatient when we have to wait in line, when our internet goes down for five minutes, when we have to work extra time to complete a project, or when someone else doesn’t follow through on a commitment. We want what we want, when we want it. And we tend to blame others and complain when we are feeling inconvenienced.
Can I serve up some cheese to go with the whine?
Sometimes, unknowingly, we set ourselves up for the toxic “you owe me” dance.
We bestow upon ourselves a Title.
If I’m a ‘Mrs.’ That means I’m married and with that title comes a ‘stamp’ that signifies I’m committed to someone in marriage. Some titles designate who we are and what we do.
But we take other titles that designate who we think we are, a subtle self-promotion tactic: I’m an Apostle/Expert/Master/Count/Diva. I want to be called “Dr. Grand Poo-Bah”. I saw in the news the other day someone named “The Very Reverend So-and-So.”
When we take a title, we create expectations of ourselves, and we place our expectations on others. We then feel—Entitled.
And few people relish having to honor our entitlements.
If we are really good at something, people know it without our deliberately calling attention to it.
A grace-filled life comes from adopting a humble, giving attitude—an “I am grateful and want to give to the world” outlook, rather than a potentially score-keeping, “I deserve to receive” mantra.
My Favorite teacher says, “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.” (Matthew 23:11-12)