The Problem With Entitlement

I will never forget a church ski trip to the Northwest. A blinding snowstorm stranded us at a layover in a northern city. My family (my girls were ages 12-14 or so at the time) trudged with the rest of our party to the endless lines in the airport terminal to begin the interminable wait for reassignment. A certain mega-church pastor and his wife were in front of us as we waited over an hour to reach a ticket clerk. My oldest daughter was standing with me while my wife and youngest daughter slept in the terminal.

When the pastor’s wife realized that not only were they unable to catch another another flight (by this time it was almost midnight) but also their family of five was being assigned to a Days Inn, she began making disparaging remarks intended to be overheard by the ticket clerk. As I watched the harried ticket clerk’s face, and realized my daughter was riveted to the scenario playing out before us, I knew this was the perfect time for a teaching moment.

After a lengthy time of complaining, the pastor’s wife finally realized that nothing would change the inevitable and they departed. I whispered to Paige, “let’s try to be really nice so the tired lady helping us will smile.” We stepped up and as my daughter stood beside me with my huge cowboy hat falling over her face, I saw the glimmer of a smile come across the overworked clerks face. Subsequently, we were also assigned the obligatory hotel room and went our weary way.

But now, for the rest of the story. When we arrived at our downtown hotel via the complimentary taxi which the clerk provided us, we realized we were at the nicest hotel in the city, to our surprise, we also found that the airport clerk had arranged for two deluxe rooms, so that each of the “big” girls could have a bed to themselves. Even better, we had been provided a complimentary deluxe breakfast the next morning in the sumptuous hotel restaurant. Soaking our weary bones in the luxurious spa and swimming pool, we talked about the lesson both of us had learned.

When we arrived at the ski lodge late the next evening, I wish I could adequately portray my daughter’s big eyes as she listened to the experience of the Pastor’s family that was polar opposite to us. The five of them had indeed been assigned a room at the airport Days Inn. A honeymoon room with one bed. And a tub in the middle of the room with no curtain. I could not help but laugh uncontrollably on the inside as they recounted holding coats up and turning their heads as “Queen Mom” quickly and uncomfortably bathed.

My girls (and I) learned a valuable lesson. In a few words: Entitlement inevitably results in unpleasant gifts!

We all know people with an entitlement problem…

“That’s not fair…”
“Everybody else is…”
“They all have…”
“If you really loved me…”

Many adults whimper at the slightest discomfort or infringment upon their time. And on the flip-side, do not think anything of sucking up others time. Why? Because, like children, they are convinced they deserve what they want – when they want it.

Many organizations are also poisoned with the problem of entitlement. In my interaction with companies, churches and artists across the country, I hear words that are telltale symptoms.

“What have they done for me lately?”
“This place owes me. After all, I work as hard as anyone else.”
“They’re not being fair.”

Makes you want to exclaim, “Would you like a little cheese with that whine?”

Unfortunately, it is not only “they”. We all need periodic inoculations from the “you owe me” disease.

Life don’t always treat you the way you think you should be treated. We can’t throw a pity party or bitch every time life sucks. That’s a recipe for isolation. Stay out of the endless pursuit of “justice”. Don’t destroy yourself with an obsession for revenge. Instead, determine to do the right thing, no matter what others choose to do.

“Habitual victims” are a pain to others and themselves. These “victims” are habitually blaming and complaining. When you hear yourself constantly complaining about your life and always blaming others for your troubles – it’s time to get real.

The “everyone owes me” attitude is simply an unrealistic and unhealthy way to look at life. We have so many blessings. People are gifts. They deserve our gratitude, not our deference. What better way to show thanks than to smile and be courteous? I believe that we are each called and uniquely equipped to create a different culture in this world.

A culture of respect, honor and gratitude. Sounds old school, doesn’t it.

Maybe we all just need a healthy dose of good ‘ole fashioned manners!

The bottom line: Others are not the problem – entitlement is the problem.

By randy

Encouraging people to find out who they are so they can live their lives fully.

19 replies on “The Problem With Entitlement”

This is a wonderful post Randy. A great reminder to me of "…give and you will receive…", most people equate that with money, but it is about life, about the heart.

Thanks for this

Wonderful, wonderful! I am eagerly waiting for all of us Christians to realize we are not victims of the world, but overcomers of the world. There is a huge difference. We're not here on the earth to have people give to us–God has already met our greatest need through Christ–but we're here to give to others. First and foremost, we're here to give God's absolute love to our fellow human beings. Then, we're here to give forgiveness, compassion, and kindness. Once we get our eyes off ourselves and onto our neighbors, our world will change!

So true. Great Reminder! It is such a joy to be around people that practice patience and humility. We are owed nothing. There are so many blessings around us, I try to concentrate on those instead of what I do not have. But alas I am not perfect in this area either, so it is great to get a gentle nudge to stay alert!

Great post & story Randy. I had a similar experience back in 2002 when I was going through the airport with my wife and my then 9 month old son. Everyone was getting bussed to a hotel off-site because there "the hotel connected to the airport is full." Everyone was yelling at the woman at the counter. When I finally reached her, I just simply asked for a hotel that was near a grocery store so we could get formula for our son. She told us to go sit in a room next to the waiting area and she could help us when everyone else was done.

She came in and gave us a voucher for a suite at the hotel connected to the airport and when we reached the room the hotel had baby formula waiting for us. I'll never forget that experience.


What a great image you’ve given us, of the Day’s Inn family awkwardly bathing, all in one room, compared to the luxury you were given. It’ll help me remember to be courteous to those who serve me, if for no other reason than the hope of reward. :)
Sometimes those Old Testament scriptures that imply a clear relationship between righteousness and reward really are true in everyday reality.

awesome post Randy. sooooo glad you are blogging again. i've missed the regularity of your wisdom. btw, i wrote a post about a segment of your book that really got me thinking.

Reminds me of a time when our bank was bought out and everyone had to go there literally to get things in order. When my time came, hours into the wait, as a nurse, all I could think of was… has this woman had a chance to go potty??? When she sat down and said may I help you, I said, no, let me help you… why don’t you take a bathroom break while I sit here. Get you a drink too if you need one. She smiled widely and quickly stepped away. Great lesson for your kids too. Love reading your posts.

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