Entitlement is Stealing Our Future

Guest Post by Scott Savage

Can I make a confession? As a Millennial, I tire when reading articles in my news feed that slam my generation. We are lazy and feel entitled. We are narcissistic. We are addicted to our phones and checking social media. We cannot commit to anything. In the words of Louis CK, Millennials are “the crappiest generation ever.”

Many of the these critiques are broad, sweeping and inaccurate generalizations. But, honestly, our generation struggles in some of these areas. Sometimes the critiques we receive are warranted.

I wonder, what if we were conditioned to feel entitled? Every time we competed, we earned a trophy. We grew up in a world where seemingly everyone had cable TV, internet access and a cell phone. By the time we got to college we had five graduations and their subsequent parties! Think about it—preschool, kindergarten, 5th grade, 8th grade, and high school. There is a reason we think we’re awesome!

While our sense of entitlement has been developed over time, it has quickly become a major barrier to our future. Entitlement is not only a barrier for Millennials; it can limit anyone’s development. Entitlement produces a demanding nature in our interactions. Entitlement makes it more difficult to endure life’s challenging seasons. When we feel entitled, we easily default to passivity and laziness, expecting things to come our way without hard work and perseverance.

Entitlement confuses us. We focus on the outcome we experience and ignore the process that produced it. We love using our iPhones but forget the long, failure-ridden road Steve Jobs took before he created it. When we become entitled, we fail to pursue paths which expose us to struggle or failure. [tweet to share]

My sense of entitlement nearly cost me my future. In my first job after college, entitlement produced a lack of teachability in me. I had a very awkward and uncomfortable conversation with a supervisor who named these weaknesses.

Entitlement prevented me from appreciating the advantages I enjoyed. I failed to notice that the source of my complaints were the subject of others’ dreams and prayers.

My sense of entitlement nearly cost me my future.

While in that season, though, I discovered gratitude as an antidote to the negative aspects of entitlement. In writing on the power of gratitude and the danger of entitlement, Steven Furtick noted, “Your sense of gratitude ends where entitlement begins…You cannot be grateful for something you feel entitled to.”

Gratitude reminds our hearts that everything we have is a gift. [tweet to share] When we begin to look at what we have—possessions, relationships, opportunities, and experiences—as a gift from God or the gift that came after a hard season of work and waiting, their status as gifts shifts our experience of them.

If gratitude is so important, how do we cultivate it in our lives?

1. Exercise your “gratitude muscle.”

In his book Today We Are Rich, Tim Sanders shares how his grandmother, Billye, taught him to think of gratitude as a muscle and not a feeling. Sanders teaches that a daily discipline of giving thanks builds a strong muscle, just like a daily trip to the weight room.

2. Understand that gratitude does not change your experience, but rather gratitude changes your perception of your experience.

The difference between gratitude and entitlement is not found in what happens to us, but rather our response to and perception of what happens. When we exercise our gratitude muscle, we accept the information and assessments that fit the gratitude grid instead of the entitlement grid. We can try to force change in our circumstances or we can work to shift our perspective.

3. Stick with gratitude long enough for it to build generosity and contentment.

Instead of being patient and letting gratitude do its slow work in us, most of us treat gratitude like a can of Red Bull. We look for quick fixes rather than being patient and consistent. While gratitude is not a quick fix, its lasting power far exceeds any “buzz” we might get from other paths.

I think entitlement is a dangerous disease. [tweet to share] We have seen diseases rob friends and family of their futures. If entitlement has the potential to steal our future in that kind of scenario, our relationship with gratitude could be a life-saving proposition. Let’s do all we can to cultivate grateful hearts.