Someone shared a word with me a few years ago which haunted me. Convicted me. Changed my life.
It’s a word with a meaning buried deep beneath its political trappings. Because it’s a word which equally afflicts the rich and the poor. It’s a virus which respects neither cultural boundaries nor party affiliations.
Yet, most people aren’t even aware of how deeply and negatively it’s affecting their lives.
It was a powerful revelation to me years ago because it shined light on something which for years had been slowly corroding my relationships and faith.
The word is entitlement.
I know. It doesn’t sound all that frightening. In fact, it’s an idea which many of us embrace and consider to be a source of pride. It’s everything in life we feel we are owed.
That’s how it does its damage, hidden, while eroding our foundation. Like termites in the house.
See. As a business owner, I felt I was entitled to the appreciation of my employees. After all, I worked hard to make it possible for them to support their families.
As a husband, I felt entitled to the admiration of my wife. Shouldn’t she appreciate my tireless efforts to be a provider?
As a father I felt entitled to the respect of my children. There were so many sacrifices I made to secure a roof over their heads and a warm meal on the table. Isn’t honor the least I should deserve?
Then the entitlement disease spread to my faith.
I felt entitled to God’s blessing. I served Him faithfully by witnessing to others and being always willing to support His ministries.
But it was all a lie. A poison pill tucked into a jelly bean.
I thought this sense of entitlement was an achievement. The fruits of my labor. Something to strive for.
Instead, I was building the walls of my own lonely prison, brick by brick.
By placing false presumptions on everyone around me I was robbing them of any chance of offering a genuine response. I set them up for failure because they would never be able to ascend the mountains of my expectations, which grew cold, distant and barren.
When we feel entitled, we are constantly disappointed. Drowning in our own self-delusion we perceive those around us to always be letting us down. Nobody appreciates us. We never get what we deserve.
Through this self-inflicted damage we deny ourselves of the joy of experiencing true gratitude. We become incapable of a life of contentment.
The darkness of expectations cloud our response to God. Our senses become numb to His glory. The miraculous moments of life pass by unnoticed. We’re unimpressed. Uninspired. And we become more and more empty spiritually.
We, like Esau, are willing to trade all that God provides us for a bowl of stew.
Freedom comes from cutting through the shackles of entitlement. We must lay these expectations at the cross.
Then once again we’ll be pleasantly surprised by those around us. We’ll count each day, each moment, each breath as a true blessing from God.
We’ll praise Him. We’ll give continuous thanks.
Dancing like David on the streets of Jerusalem we’ll draw pleasure again from the simple things and revel in the sweet fragrance of a life filled with purpose.
Yes. It will feel something like…unbridled joy.
Looking for more from Michael K Reynolds? You might also enjoy The Heavenly Secret to Godly Abs.
Michael K. Reynolds is the author of the acclaimed Heirs of Ireland Series, historical novels set in the late 19thcentury. He is the producer of Crystal Darkness, an Emmy-Award winning series of anti-meth documentaries and was named as one of the 25 most influential Christians on Twitter. You can learn more at MichaelKReynolds.com.