A couple of weeks ago at church, one of our pastors delivered a message on entitlement that has stuck with me. The main message he delivered – people cannot enjoy what they feel entitled to.
I typically reserve the term entitlement for someone else: a teenager who feels entitled to the latest version of the iPhone every Christmas. Or to 22-year-old employees who feel entitled to a significant paycheck and a six-hour work day. It certainly does not apply to me.
But as he continued through his message, I had to gut check myself.
He taught on Matthew 20 – The Parables of the Workers in the Vineyard. In a nutshell, at the crack of dawn, a landowner hires people to work in his vineyard for a set wage. He then hired more people at 9 am, 12 noon, 3pm, and 5pm and promised them the appropriate wage as well. When the work day is over, he first pays the people who began working at 5pm…but he pays them the same amount of money to the people who have been working since the crack of dawn. He paid every person what had been promised to them, so there was no injustice.
However, the people who worked all day were mad obviously and felt entitled to a greater pay than those who only worked one hour. I certainly would be. Of course like every good parable, it is full of lessons that we may or may not want to apply to ourselves, such as real grace does not necessarily align with our sense of fairness, or God’s preference to show compassion to people who need it the most.
This time of year we are focused on thankfulness. And trust me, I’ve got lots to be thankful for – this message of entitlement is helping me further understand that the things I take for granted are quite possibly things that our future child might not have (and that I am not entitled to either). Such things include:
- Three meals a day
- A bed
- Knowing my family and its history
- A safe place to go
“It is easy, when you are young, to believe that what you desire is no less than what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough, it is your God-given right to have it.”
― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild