One of the biggest relationship killers in life is having a heart of entitlement. Entitlement is the belief that we are owed something, or that we have a right to something. This is the American way! There are things in life that we believe we deserve because it's our right. Things that we love and value rule our hearts, and we arrive at a place where we think we cannot be happy unless we get what we deserve out of life. An entitled heart takes good desires and turns them into demands, takes good things and makes them "god-things," and views people as problems.
A person with an entitled heart can happily co-exist with people under one condition: they give them what they want. Do you see the problem here? Two people are trying to exist together, are both seeking to get what they want from the other person, and both of them are unable to fully meet the other person's perceived "needs." This is a recipe for relational conflict all day long. More than that, it is outside of God's plan for relationships.
The design for relationships, according to Jesus, is this: love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34). Biblical love, in this context, is not primarily a feeling or something you fall into; it is a choice and it involves attitudes and actions found in 1 Corinthians 13. Love is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, keeps no record of wrongs, does not rejoice in evil but rejoices in the truth etc. Jesus defined the greatest act of love as laying one's life down for another (John 15:13). Entitlement and love do not go hand in hand unless you're speaking in terms of loving self. Paul called the church in Philippians to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit and to not look only to their own interests, but also to the interests of others.
So, what can we do to be free from an entitlement mindset?
- Remember what we're really entitled to: an eternity in hell under the justified wrath of God for our rebellion against Him. Other than this, we are owed nothing. Amazingly we are given everything by God (check this out). Let your heart gravitate towards thankfulness and enjoy what God has given, and rest in what He chosen not to give you because of word of Jesus.
- Repent from the selfish desires and beliefs that rule your heart. Confessing and agreeing with God about these things is the first step to being free from them. Don't hide! The gospel provides an environment of grace to deal with the still-changing condition of our hearts. Take the steps necessary to stop living as if you're owed something and instead being thinking about how you might give something to others.
- Realize that Christ purchased for you the ability to stop living for yourself (2 Cor. 5:15) and believe that by HIS GRACE (2 Cor. 12:9-10) He will enable you to surrender your entitlement mindset to Him and instead have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5).
- Reach out to someone who loves God--someone with whom you can live openly, share your struggles, and seek wisdom.
*** Here are some diagnostic questions for you to ask yourself to see if you have an entitlement mindset: 16 Signs You Have An Entitlement Mindset