Research has shown that feeling entitled increases feelings of distress and disappointment—but you likely don’t need research to know that. You have experienced it. I have. There was a season when I was traveling for speaking/consulting engagements so frequently that I would be regularly upgraded to first class. Sadly, my heart came to expect the free upgrade, and when it did not happen, I was not grateful for a regular seat—despite the fact that I was making trips that used to take days in just a few hours at 35,000 feet above sea level. Entitlement fostered disappointment in me despite the fact I had no reason to be entitled. Entitlement fights enjoyment, so we are wise to fight entitlement. Here are three ways:
1. Growing in God’s Word fights entitlement.
Spending time in God’s Word reveals that you are thankful for God and want to hear from Him, but spending time in His Word also increases your gratitude.
And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:15-16, emphasis added)
The encouragement to “let the Word of Christ dwell richly among you” is sandwiched between the words “thankful” and “gratitude” in this passage. When the Word dwells richly in us, we are reminded that it is not by our hands or might that we live today, but by His provision and His presence. We are reminded of His blessings, and our hearts are warmed with the grace of God given to us in Jesus.
2. Gathering with God’s people fights entitlement.
Gathering in His name not only shows you are thankful for the salvation He has given you, but also increases your gratitude. Look at this famous call to worship in the Psalms:
Come, let us shout joyfully to the Lord, shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation! Let us enter his presence with thanksgiving; let’s shout triumphantly to him in song (Psalm 95:1-2, emphasis added).
“Let us…” This is not a verse about you worshiping Jesus alone, just you and Him. It is a call for us together to enter His presence with God’s people. The Psalmist does not say, “Come, let’s stroll casually and apathetically to church.” That type of posture won’t fight entitlement and won’t increase your joy.
3. Giving to God’s mission fights entitlement.
Generosity shows you are grateful, but also increases your gratitude. The apostle Paul wrote.
Now as you excel in everything—in faith, speech, knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love for us— excel also in this act of grace. I am not saying this as a command. Rather, by means of the diligence of others, I am testing the genuineness of your love. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:7-9)
Jesus left everlasting paradise to live without a home and be crucified to give us the riches of His grace and eternal life. It is Jesus’ generosity towards us that makes us generous to His Kingdom, and as we are generous with what He has entrusted to us we are reminded that it is all His anyway.
The simple spiritual disciplines of time in God’s Word, gathering with God’s people, and giving generously are tools He uses to grow our gratitude and fight the pull towards entitlement.