Entitlement seems to be the word du jour that many adults use to describe the emerging youth and young adult culture. Quite frankly, I myself have used this word in this same regard.
What I'm learning more and more about these days is how the emerging youth and young adult culture seems to be a mirrored reflection of the natural human condition, in addition to learned behaviour from previous generations.
I have 3 pre-school aged kids. Today we have been celebrating my oldest son's third birthday. With every birthday in the Frizzell house comes the opening of gifts, the eating of cake and other fun memories. I find it very interesting how each of my kids has developed a sense of ownership and entitlement when it comes to these birthday traditions. They argue over toys, they make sure that they are heard and they voice there opinion in no uncertain terms.
I challenge you to do a social experiment sometime this week. Try to observe a group of kids, youth or adults interact with each other. You might notice that in each instance there is always posturing for position, a desire to be heard and some sort of element of entitlement.
I've been drawn to a story Jesus told about a group of workers. In this story, workers are invited to harvest a field. Three different groups of workers are hired at three different times: early in the day, mid-day and in the last few hours of the day. At the end of the work day, the boss calls all of the workers together in order to hand out their compensation. He pays each of them equally...which frustrates the first two groups of workers. These people cannot understand why the boss would allow those who were hired towards the end of the day to share equally in the bounty.
Entitlement seems to fit as a definition for the reaction of the first two groups of workers. These workers are so focused on getting what they believe they have earned, that they miss out on the lesson they are being shown. Life is about generosity...freely giving of yourself and of your stuff to others. Entitlement gets in the way of living life according to this rhythm and design. When we allow ourselves to be consumed by our desire to gain rather than our ability to give, we lose sight of what is really important.
I desire for my kids to know the beauty and the simplicity of living generously...so I will desperately fight against my natural entitlement tendencies.
The next time you are with a group of people ask yourself these question, are you fighting to make sure you get what's yours, or are you fighting to pursue a life that is steeped in generosity? What defines a disciple best, someone who gets what they think they deserve, or someone who is willing to give of themselves for the sake of someone else?