Recognizing a Spirit of Entitlement

In the second installment of this series, we’ll discuss God’s framework for working through entitlement and how to encourage others who find themselves stuck there.

Also in This Episode

  • The “hard way” principles
  • vulnerable and consequence-based conversations (and what those even are!)
  • Why discipline and structure cannot be underestimated in working through entitlement

Show Notes

Hey, everyone! Welcome back to MercyTalk. All this month, we’ll be diving into Dr. John Townsend’s book, “The Entitlement Cure”. Last week, we looked at what entitlement is, who suffers from it, and why. This week, we’ll be looking at some tangible ways we can choose to turn from a spirit of entitlement and go the other way. To do this, we’re going to start with the “hard way” principles.

The “Hard Way” Principles

  • Humility and dependence. We are completely dependent on God. For in him we live, and move, and have our being… (Acts 17:28, KJV)
  • Connectedness. We are designed to live in connectedness with each other, …because relationships fuel us to meet the demands of reality.
  • Ownership. We Have to Take Responsibility for Our Own Choices. Blame is a first cousin to entitlement.
  • Accepting the negative. Your flaws can’t be forgiven and healed until you admit them. A harsh internal judge slows you down, discourages you from taking risks, and makes you not like who you are.
  • Finding our role. To live long and contentedly, find your purpose in life and fulfill it. We don’t feel fulfilled or in our right space in life until we find our passions, develop our talents, experience our mission, and engage ourselves in meaningful expression of those things to make the world a better place.

Being aware of each of these “hard way” principles is really important. It’s key to changing the entitlement mindset that can so easily find us all! Townsend also shares how entitlement limits one’s goals and individual growth. While it feels like it would be the opposite—as if someone with entitlement might have a lot of self-confidence and knows exactly what they really want—it is actually quite the opposite! Entitlement limits goals by making happiness the endgame of everything. This locks us into the pain/pleasure motivation cycle, which as Townsend describes, puts us at the same reasoning level as a child. Ouch. To make matters worse, entitlement limits growth by freezing development. It says, “Hmm, that sounds really hard, and it doesn’t look like it’s worth it.”

It’s true that entitlement effects more areas in our life than we realize, and that’s why we want to be made aware when others see this attitude in us (and help others when we see it in them). As you might guess, this most effectively happens in a conversation between two people. Townsend says, Most of the time, the entitled person’s stance has blinded him to the damage he is doing to himself or to others. And letting your frustration drive you immediately to drastic measures, such as ending the relationship, asking someone to move out, or firing someone, aren’t effective. Instead, start with a vulnerable conversation. Practically speaking, phrases like, “I want a better relationship with you,” or “I want to support you and cheer you on,” help to deliver the truth in a more effective way. They prepare the person for what needs to be said next—things like, “When you never ask how I’m doing, it causes me to wonder if you care about me.” This is super helpful, because these kinds of conversations foster honesty and kindness all at the same time. Maybe no one has ever told this person (or you) that there’s a problem. Delivering the news with compassion does a lot to move the needle forward. Now, this doesn’t mean the person is ready to change or turn things around just yet. There’s another step that may need to be taken after several of these vulnerable conversations. Townsend refers to this next step as a “consequence-based conversation”, and there are actually seven steps to this type of conversation. Make sure the other person knows that you’re FOR them.

  • You are concerned about some negative attitudes and behaviors
  • You yourself have been part of the problem
  • You are establishing definite criteria for change
  • There will be consequences if no change occurs
  • You want to hear them out (giving them a chance to speak)
  • Again, you are FOR them

At the end of the day, Townsend gives discipline and structure as the two key components for fighting a spirit of entitlement. In fact, it’s not even the choice of choosing to be disciplined. (Most of us try that for our new year’s resolution and end up failing.) Instead, it’s the actual process—the habits and structures—we develop over time that really help us.

Next week, we’ll dive into some of these habits and structures together. Join us then for more MercyTalk!


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