The Trap of Entitlement

In the area of church leadership/ministry, there is a huge trap that many young leaders can frequently find themselves in.  It is a trap that can entangle even the most equipped leaders…it is the trap of entitlement.  Below I have listed some thoughts on avoiding this trap, but before I get into those, let’s explore briefly what this trap looks like.

Entitlement often shows its ugly head when expectations are not met. Unmet, or unclear expectations, are the basis really for a lot of frustration in leadership, but I’ll cover that in a future post.  As a young leader comes out of college or steps into a ministry position they often step in with certain “therefore’s”, which might include some of these:

  • I now have a degree, THEREFORE I deserve a full-time job in this field.
  • I feel I am a very talented, THEREFORE my superiors should appreciate the privilege of having me on their staff.
  • I worked hard to get here, THEREFORE I shouldn’t have to work as hard to stay here.
  • I could get a job anywhere I want, THEREFORE you better make the extra effort to keep me.

These “therefore’s” can be so dangerous because of the missed premise of ministry and its purpose.  The overall concept of entitlement states that “I deserve ____________ because of _____________”.  The reality is, we already have more than we deserve!  When you boil it down, it is a privilege to just be called by God to serve Him in ministry. It’s not about what I can get out of this or what I deserve.  Our focus should be “What can I give God and how can I serve others through this opportunity?”

To avoid this dangerous mindset of entitlement, here are a few quick tips:

  • Constantly remind yourself WHY you’re in ministry.  Remember, it’s not about us, it’s about those that are far from God.
  • Look for opportunities to SERVE others when it won’t benefit you.  This means doing things that may be outside your job portfolio or you might consider ‘beneath’ you.
  • Do your best to LISTEN more and talk less.  Entitlement can often set in when we fool ourselves into thinking we know it all…you would be surprised what you can learn from those you consider the most ignorant.

Have you ever battled with entitlement?  What advice would you add?

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