What is entitlement thinking? It is an attitude or a way of looking at life. Those who have this attitude believe that others owe them. They believe they get something because they are owed it and they are entitled to it. They get what they want because of who they are, not because of what they do.
Entitlement thinking is an epidemic disease in the work place and within government assistance programs. People believe they are to be promoted, receive raises, etc…just because they have been there for a number of years. It doesn't matter if they are late for work or display negative and uncooperative attitudes. In their mind, they have the "right" to better benefits.
Government programs that were designed to help people temporarily have now become third and fourth generations of people thinking they don't have to work in order to receive. This thinking has dwindled down to the home. Teenagers think it is their "right" to have stereos and private phone lines in their room. They also think it is their right to have a car given to them just because they have arrived at the magical age of sixteen.
I was exposed to an overdose of entitlement thinking early one morning. I was in bumper-to- bumper traffic driving into Atlanta, Georgia at 7:00 a.m. People who needed to get into my lane would edge up to my front fender as though to say, "You will let me in front of you!" Of course, I did let them move from their lane to mine. However, not one person mouthed the words "thank you", nor did they wave their hand in an expression of thanks. Why? Because they felt they were entitled to moving in front of me. Therefore, they did not have to say thank you.
When I arrived at my destination, I encountered a young man coming out of a door loaded down with two big boxes. I opened the door for him, walked the few feet to his car and opened the door of his car for him. Not one word of thanks. Why? Because he thought he was entitled to the help. I was supposed to rescue him.
As I entered the building, I met one of my students at the college. He needed me to take some time and go over some class work with him. I altered my busy schedule to accommodate him. When finished, he picked up his papers and left. Not one word of thanks. Why? I am his teacher; therefore, he thinks it is my job to help him make up work he missed when he skipped class to go golfing.
I left Atlanta and drove back home. I dropped by a friend's house. She had a neighbor lady in her kitchen. The lady was upset with some marital problems. My friend told her I was a minister. She immediately pulled me to sit beside her and wanted me to counsel and pray for her. I spent two hours listening, counseling and praying with this lady who I have never seen before. At the end, she got up, dried her eyes, smiled and expressed how much better she felt. Then out the door she went without one word of thanks. Why? I'm a minister. In her mind, I owed her that time and that advice.
How many times does entitlement thinking cause us to forget two little works, "Thank you". A husband forgets to say them because his wife is supposed to cook, clean, run errands and be responsible for the kids. Wives forget them because their husbands are supposed to work and bring home the money. Employers and employees forget them because they each have established strong boundaries of entitlements.
It is my prayer that we will return to an attitude of appreciation. We will realize that people and systems do not owe us anything. We will return to acknowledging people and organizations that have done good things for us. We will bow our head of pride and from the heart tell someone, "Thank you, I appreciate what you have done for me."
Keep the Spirit of Hope alive by looking for opportunities to say, "Thank you," and, "I appreciate you," and voluntarily give up the myth that people and systems owe us.