Tips  on spiritual growth, emotional health, and relational healing.


Entitlement is Not Just a Millennial Problem

Apr 3, 2018

“These Millennials have an entitlement problem!”

I’m a millennial.

I know some people might say I shouldn’t lead with an admission like that. But I’m so over 80 million of my peers and I being summed up in a few words.


“Millennials are the Worst!”

These are the most common critiques I hear of millennials today.

  • Lazy.
  • Entitled.
  • Narcissistic.
  • Addicted to our phones.
  • Cannot go five minutes without checking social media.
  • Cannot commit to anything.
  • Mooching off our parents.
  • Prolonging our adolescence.

In the words of Louis CK, “millennials are the crappiest generation ever.”

Here’s the thing. Many of those phrases I listed above are broad, sweeping, and inaccurate generalizations. 80 million people of many racial, religious, and economic backgrounds cannot be summed up as one monolithic group.

However, I do think my generation struggles with some of these areas. And at some points, we deserve the critiques.

My generation was conditioned to be entitled. Every time we competed, we earned a trophy or an award. We grew up in a world where everyone had cable tv and internet access. We attended college at a time when laptops were normal and cell phones were universal. Facebook began on our campuses and defined life (“Is that couple ‘Facebook official’ yet?”). I mean, by the time we got to college we had graduated five times! Think about it – preschool, kindergarten, 5th grade, 8th grade, and high school. There is a reason we think we are awesome!


The Problems with Entitlement

While our entitlement has been honestly developed, we must remember how this attitude is a major barrier to anyone’s future, regardless of age.

Entitlement makes it more difficult to endure the challenging and painful seasons that life inevitably sends our way. Entitlement produces a demanding nature in our interactions. When we are entitled, we easily default to passivity and laziness, expecting things to come our way without hard work and perseverance.

Entitlement confuses many of us, as we focus on the outcome we experience and ignore the process that produced it. Who doesn’t love using an iPhone? But we quickly forget the long, painful, failure-ridden road that Steve Jobs took before he created this amazing piece of technology. We cannot imagine life without the internet but we forget the opposition its creators had to push through.

In 1995, Cliff Stull wrote an article for Newsweek where he said, “Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries

“Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries, and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic. Baloney.”

When we become entitled to enjoying the outcomes of other people’s hard work, we fail to pursue paths ourselves that include the icky, messy struggles.

Our entitlement will rob us of a bright future. We assert how much we deserve great things. In the end, though, we fail to fully enjoy them. We never fully enjoy the things to which we feel entitled.

The things we fully enjoy come after a long difficult path of waiting and working.


Entitlement is a Threat to All of Us

As a pastor, I’ve had the privilege of serving in two churches. One church has several hundred regular attendees and the other had well over a thousand. In both, we had a multi-generational dynamic and I found entitlement in every age bracket.

Entitlement is not a generational problem; it’s a human problem. It’s equally as present in Millennials as it is Baby-boomers and builders. Entitlement just manifests itself in unique ways in every era.


entitlement millennials generations

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The Solution to the Entitlement Problem

So if entitlement is so bad, what’s the solution?

Gratitude is the antidote to entitlement. Steven Furtick, a pastor

Steven Furtick, a pastor, and author based in Charlotte, North Carolina, teaches about the power of gratitude and the danger of entitlement. Furtick says, “Your sense of gratitude ends where entitlement begins…You cannot be grateful for something you feel entitled to.”

Gratitude reminds our hearts that we do not deserve the things we have. They are gifts. Whether the gift of God’s provision or the gift that came after a hard season of work and waiting, their status as gifts shifts our experience of them.

Furtick continues elsewhere on the same subject. “If you thank God for everything before you ask him for anything, you will realize you deserve nothing.”


How Do We Develop Gratitude?

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

1. Exercise your gratitude muscle.

In his book, Today We Are Rich, Tim Sanders shares about how his grandmother, Billye, taught him to think of gratitude as a muscle and not a feeling. Tim teaches that a daily discipline of giving thanks builds a strong muscle, just like a daily trip to the weight room. When considered in this analogy, gratitude (or the lack thereof) inhabits the land of habits and discipline, rather than a feeling or occasional act.

This “exercise” could be something as simple as starting or ending your day with writing down 3 things for which you are thankful.

It could also include pausing to give thanks for one experience before you turn to focus on the next one. As I write this post, I’m enjoying a day off after Easter services at the church I lead. Our team is pausing today to give thanks and celebrate the fruit of our labor before we turn to face our next challenge.


2. Understand that gratitude does not change your experiences; instead, 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.

Many of us have heard that when a group of people witnesses an accident. Each witness shared a different account with law enforcement officers who arrive later to investigate. We don’t see the world as the world is; we see it as we are. And when we are predisposed to entitlement, we look for what we feel we deserve or where we’ve been cheated. If we’re predisposed to gratitude, we see countless moments as opportunities to embrace gifts we don’t deserve.

Gratitude doesn’t protect us from bad news, suffering, grief or loss. But it does prepare us far better than entitlement will. None of us are immune from the pain inherent to human life today. And gratitude offers us a better plan in advance and a stronger response.


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

In titling his famous book on discipleship, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson stole a quote from Frederich Nietzsche. Nietzsche said, “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”

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 chug it when we need it and hope we get done what needs to be finished before the inevitable crash.

Rather than building gratitude consistently and faithfully in our lives, we look for quick fixes. While gratitude is not a quick fix, its lasting power in our lives far exceeds any “buzz” we might get from other paths. We don’t develop a gratitude muscle overnight!


Gratitude is An All-Year Habit

We think about thankfulness and gratitude in late November, but often only for that season. While I’m good with only eating turkey during that time of year, I think we need gratitude all year long!

Here’s the hard truth…we are not in control what happens to us. This year, we’ll be disappointed by other people and we will disappoint them too.

In those moments, entitlement is deadly. If entitlement has the potential to steal our future in that kind of scenario, our relationship with gratitude could be a life-saving proposition.

Reject entitlement. Chose gratitude. This really is the better way.




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