How to avoid the entitlement trap
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” - Philippians 2:3-4
One of the best days of my college career was called “equipment day.”
This was a big day for college athletes. To be honest, up until that point, it’s no exaggeration to say it was one of the greatest days of my life!
On equipment day, a big box arrived with all of the supplies I needed for the season: Four or five pairs of basketball shoes, sweat suits, socks, you name it. When I walked around campus sporting my shoes, sweats and shirts in school colors, everyone automatically knew I was part of the team.
But a funny thing happened after my last equipment day at Bowling Green State University. I realized that I was not ever going to get a box like that again. I was going to have to walk into the sporting goods store like an ordinary person and buy my own shoes and socks. I wasn’t going to receive shirts with my name on the back or basketball shoes specially designed with an orange swoosh.
By my senior year, I had grown to believe I deserved these things. As a member of the basketball team, I had earned this special treatment.
That is the definition of entitlement.
Often in life, we believe we are entitled to more than we really are. Entitlement is when I have a false impression I deserve more than I really do because I think more highly of myself than I should. This is an issue not only on the basketball team, but also in the church.
Leaders can fall into the trap of thinking that because of the number of people in their congregation or the lives that are being impacted, they deserve a higher level of respect than other people in the church.
Philippians 2:3-4 is a great reminder of how leaders should think of themselves. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Whether we work at a church, a company or a not-for-profit, let’s not fall into the trap of entitlement. Jesus was the greatest example of a leader who deserved all of the fame, power and recognition the world could offer. And yet, he knelt in front of his disciples and washed their feet. He was a model of humility and servanthood.
You might not have “equipment day” in your life, but you probably have something similar that has given you a false sense of entitlement. In what areas do you need to step back and figuratively (or literally!) wash someone’s feet as a reminder to practice the type of humility Jesus modeled for us?