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Subtitle: Leaving the Land of Entitlement


This past weekend I went to change my 2 year old daughters diaper, and so I removed her old diaper, and tucked into the diaper was my debit card. So pray for me.

Also I just wanted to take a second and say happy birthday to pastor brad. We love you man. And also, a Sam and Carol for celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary yesterday. Oh my gosh, so amazing.


We’re in a series called ‘Stop Complaining’ – Finding the Joy of a grateful heart.

And I’ve been so grateful for all the people that have reached out to us this week to tell us that it was eye-opening for them to consider all the ways our complaining society has infected their attitudes.

And I heard there was a line in the foyer to register for women’s conference, and that even before leaving the property, some wonderful women had an opportunity to endure minor inconvenience without complaining. Bravo ladies.

But I don’t think I’ve ever heard the phrase ‘NOT THAT I’M COMPLAINING’ more in my entire life than I have this past week.

Which really brings up a great question that I wanted to clarify. Numerous people have asked me what is and is not complaining. Which is a great question. Is anyone who ever says something is wrong or missing, by definition complaining? Of course not. As Christian people, we absolutely have to stand up for what is right, and that often includes naming what is wrong. So what’s the difference? Well this is what I wrote:

Complaining can be identified by your root motive when you speak up.

It’s not complaining to address an issue in order to solve a problem or increase mutual understanding among INVOLVED parties. It IS complaining when your motive is to gain support or agreement from people who are NOT INVOLVED and are in no position to make the situation better.

Discussing an issue with your boss for the purpose of finding a solution is not complaining. Whining about the situation to your best friend who doesn’t even know your boss is complaining.

If your motive is to move toward peace, healing, and reconciliation, that’s not complaining. If your motive (even unknowingly) is to expand the problem by gaining support for your side of the issue, that’s complaining.

Also, just because something is true, does NOT mean that it’s not complaining. Plenty of what the Israelites said was “True” but God still called it complaining. And let’s not kid ourselves by masking all our complaining as ‘prayer requests’. You’re not the first person to try that.


So last week was centered around a simple verse of scripture:

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, (Philippians 2:14)

Which is really 2 ways of saying stop complaining.

We talked about the perennial, evergreen sin of God’s people in the Old Testament, which is complaining.

And we read through some examples of this pattern that we see in the Israelites which is this:

  • God Blesses The People
  • The People Complain
  • God is Angered by the Complaining
  • God punishes the Complaining

(And yet still in God’s grace and mercy, God blesses the people)

And what has started to concern me, is that in this culture that seems to celebrate complaining, many Christians don’t even consider complaining a sin. Certainly not in themselves.

Paul is very clear in the New Testament that the judgements of God in the Old Testament are to serve as a warning for us, and he specifically mentions complaining by name.

And we talked about 3 ways to self-diagnose your own complaining:

  1. Do my conversations often revolve around everyday situations that are irritating to me?
  2. Would other people consider me negative, while I just consider myself realistic?
  3. Do I find comfort in being around people who are annoyed at the same things I am?

It was pretty painful sermon, I encourage you to go listen online if you missed it.

Deuteronomy 8:7-18

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; (Deuteronomy 8:7)

a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; (Deuteronomy 8:8)

a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. (Deuteronomy 8:9)

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. (Deuteronomy 8:10)

Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. (Deuteronomy 8:11)

Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, (Deuteronomy 8:12)

and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, (Deuteronomy 8:13)

then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Deuteronomy 8:14)

He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. (Deuteronomy 8:15)

He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. (Deuteronomy 8:16)

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” (Deuteronomy 8:17)

But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. (Deuteronomy 8:18)

Leaving the land of Entitlement

Ok, this week, what I would like you to write on the top of your paper if you’re taking notes is this: “Leaving the Land of Entitlement”. No, not the land of ENCHANTMENT. You can stay in the land of enchantment, but you can’t stay in the land of ENTITLEMENT.


And just by way of introduction I want to talk for a quick minute about ‘Narcissism’. You’ve probably heard that word before, but what does it mean to be a narcissist?

Narcissism Origin

The word comes from ‘NarCIsus’, which is a character in greek mythology. (pic) And he was a hunter who was known for his beauty.. The women flocked to him like moths to a flame. Something I really identify with.

And so there were many ‘suitors’, many people who pursued Narcissus and wanted to marry him. But he shunned them all. He disdained his suitors because none of their beauty could match his own.

Until one day, he looked into a pool of water, and saw the most beautiful person he had ever seen in this whole life – his own reflection. And he becomes entranced by it. “Finally, someone worthy of my affection.” Eventually he realizes that it’s just his own reflection, and he becomes so enraged by it, that he takes his own life. And his body disappears and all that is left is a narcissus flower. (pic)

And from this tale, we get the word ‘Narcissism. Or more formally: “Narcissistic personality disorder” or NPD

The Mayo Clinic defines NPD like this:

“A disorder in which a person has an inflated sense of self-importance.”

Some of you are thinking “Yeah I know all about it. Have you ever met my wife?” – Well just cool your jets, this sermon is about all of us.

My Super Sweet 16 – Video Clip

And just to have a little fun and make the most extreme point possible, I have a clip for you from a show called ‘My Super Sweet 16’. Perhaps some of you have heard of it. It’s a show that tracks wealthy children as their celebrate their lives big milestones.

A generation ago, we find that young people wanted to be an actor or a rock star, or an athlete and they knew being famous would be a part of that, but now surveys show that young people most want is just to be famous and HOW they become famous is secondary.

Some of us are full-blown narcissists while others of us just exist somewhere on that continuum, but it’s important to understand that the tendency to put yourself first exists in all of us. It’s not a matter of categories, it’s a matter of continuum. What I mean by that is it’s not just ‘Narcissists’ and ‘Non-Narcissists’ We are all on the self-absorption continuum.

Let me say that in this type of message, the temptation is particularly high to think about how guilty other people are (“oh man, so and so needs to hear this!”) and in doing so, spare yourself the opportunity for growth. So let’s not do that.

Of course there are full-blown narcissists in your life, but more importantly, you suffer from an inflated sense of self-importance too. And so let’s set this time aside not to talk about other people who are doing it wrong, but instead to invite the Holy Spirit in to what he may have to say to us personally.

Think about this: Being a narcissist is the most natural thing in the world. You don’t have to teach a kid to care about himself more than his siblings. That comes NATURAL. No you have to teach a kid that other people are important, and you have to think about them too, and not just yourself.

Of course Narcissism is not new. But I think one of the challenges that we do face today is that we live in a society that embraces narcissistic behavior as normal. What just a generation ago would be considered detestable, now we consider normal. In fact, research shows us that in todays culture, Narcissists tend to do very well for themselves.

And are even celebrated. Which causes non-narcissistic people start behaving like narcissists. We make shows about them.

And so now, maybe more than ever, to esteem others better than ourselves like Paul says in Philippians, is counter-cultural. It’s actually rebelling against what our culture celebrates. And it’s not easy. One of the inevitable results of narcissism is ‘Entitlement’

Entitlement (the problem)

Not just about expecting government handouts. That’s certainly one form of entitlement, but it’s not the only one and I don’t think it’s even the main one. Not even close.

We might say it like this: “Entitlement A sense that you deserve more.” And I really think it can be birthed out of careless parenting. Not unloving parenting, but careless parenting.


And as we go through these, you can be self-reflective on how you were parented, but also the parents in the room can be self-reflective on how they parented and continue to parent.

Parenting has changed

In many ways for the better

  • Parents today are emotionally closer with their children.
  • Children feel a greater sense of freedom to converse with their parents.
  • The reasons behind rules are discussed more. Think 50 years ago, Dad says ‘You can’t do that’ the kid responds with ‘Why’ and the Dad says “Because I said so.” Today there’s more conversation about WHY we make the decisions we make. Which is a very good thing.
  • Fathers spend more time with their children.
  • It’s much safer to be a child today than it has ever been.
    • Car seat technology
    • And mothers learning to not drink or smoke when pregnant.

Other ways, though we may be TRYING to do better, it’s actually making the situation worse. Here’s some habits that may not be helping as much as we thought.

Unconditional Praise

Psycologists are saying is not helping the way we thought it would. Unconditional love, yes. But unconditional praise, “You’re wonderful, you’re perfect, everything is great about you no matter what.” – That doesn’t ultimately help the child and in some cases hurts their development.

Teaching children they stand out as special rather than they have a special place in something larger than themselves.

So there’s 2 ways people feel special.

1. Stand-Out Special

We might not say it like this, but in essence the message is this: “Somehow you’re better than everybody else. You stand out from the less-good people.”

And with that comes a great sense of entitlement. If I’m somehow better or more important than the rest of these people, well then I shouldn’t have to do those menial tasks, those should be for the regular people. They should wait on me. Because I’m stand-out special.

2. Specialness Through Belonging

This is where we find our identity not in being separate from the rest, but by being an important part of the whole.

So let’s take the example of a camera person here in the room.

We want our volunteers to feel special and appreciated and there’s really 2 ways we could accomplish that.

1 would be to make them feel ‘stand out special’. “I just want you to know that I think you’re the best camera person on the whole team. You pick better shots, your focusing is better, your color temperature is better. You’re the best on the team.”

Would that motive someone? Of course. But it’s not the BEST way to motive them.

2 would be to make them feel special because they’re making an important contribution to something bigger than themselves. So that might be “Everything we do together in this camera department spreads the message of Jesus to our community. What we’re doing here is going to change the eternal destinies of people who come watch these services. And we get to do it together. And you are a vital part of this team and we so deeply appreciate you.

So it’s not “Your significant because you stand out from the group.” No it’s “You are a vital part of something that is SO important.”

Over-emphasizing personal success above Compassion for others.

Y’all remember the baby Einstein videos? It was like a way for us as parents to help our children get a leg up on the other stupid babies.

I hear the ‘Baby Mother Teresa’ videos didn’t sell so hot.

But the emphasis becomes ‘How can I get to the front of the line’ as opposed to ‘How can I serve those around me.’

“A focus on individual achievement that leaves out feelings, love, and caring is a recipe for Narcissism. The missing piece of caring for others cascades into many of narcissism’s negative outcomes, such as a lack of empathy, incivility, entitlement, and aggression. In raising super-achievers, today’s parents may have, perhaps unintentionally, raised super-narcissists.” The Narcissism Epidemic

Protecting children from criticism

Whether that’s criticism at school, or a challenge from teachers, or as they get older a boss.

Teachers and coaches in sports report an increased amount of parental involvement (that’s awesome), but often that parental involvement takes the form of advocating that their child is special and should receive special treatment.

Helicopter Parenting

What a perfect name for it.

Parents who ‘hover’ to make sure that everything goes well for THEIR CHILD, because THEIR CHILD deserve it.

Being involved in your child’s life is a good thing. But there is a kind of parenting where you manipulate the circumstance in a way that does not reflect reality and so then children tend to be shocked a disillusioned when they hit adulthood.

Other trends in society that we see leading to some of these issues:

Since 1970, the amount of homework has declined significantly, but since then, twice as many students earn an ‘A’ average.

So what does that mean? That means we’re getting better grades for less work. Not saying it was better in 1970, or it’s better now, just interesting to track the trend. – More rewards for less work.

What are the results of this: ENTITLEMENT

A sense that you deserve more.

More than what? More is a comparative term. More than other people.

So you might say “I don’t deserve to work that job. That job is beneath me.”

You’re not suggesting that the job get eliminated, no you know SOMEONE needs to work it, just not you.

I’m not suggesting that we don’t clean the toilets at the church, SOMEBODY needs to do it, just not me.

So THEY deserve that, but I deserve more.

This class should be free! Of course SOMEONE needs to pay that teacher, just not me.

Other people deserve to wait in that line, but for people like me, there should be an EXPRESS lane.

People who are entitled have a very hard time standing in line.

Traffic – Listen, traffic can be inherently stressful, I get that. But for an entitled person? Traffic is their constant irritant. They don’t understand the nerve of all these people who are in THEIR way. “Don’t you know I’M late?!” – But then you have somebody else swerving around you, who’s clearly late and we say what? “Who does that person think he is?”

It all comes back down to the subconscious belief that you deserve more than other people. It’s the definition of entitlement.


Entitlement in school

2008 Survey:

Two thirds of college students believed the professor should give them special consideration if they explained that they were trying hard. (This is college)

One third believed they deserve at least a B just for attending class.

Listen, grades are not everything, but they are given for performance. You don’t get good grades for trying.

I learned this when I was in middle school. 7th grade. I did a hybrid homeschool/regular school deal and I had to take world history. Oh man. The dates and the places, or forget about it. My wife could ace that class I’m sure. I think that was about the only F I ever got. I think I got a 32%. And I didn’t skip class. And I studied. 32%. But did I get mad? No. Because that part of my brain is shriveled up. I realize this now.

One third thought they should be able to reschedule their final exam if it interfered with their vacation plans.

Entitlement at Work

Employers are reporting that more and more of the younger generation are becoming frustrated with the simple jobs. They want to immediately enter a job that is fulfilling, pays well, and is flexible.

Of course we all know that’s not realistically how most people enter the workforce.

When you’re fresh out of high school, it’s very likely that your first job is not going to be the one that fulfills your ever desire.

The challenge: Is to become aware of this attitude.

Entitlement in Relationships

Studies show that people with an entitled mindset tend to find themselves disappointed in their own relationship.

The reason is obvious. When you’re in a loving, committed relationship, the other person, no matter how great and loving and perfect they are will eventually say or do something that will hurt you. Intentional or Not.

No Grace – Entitled people have no grace for the failure of their partner.

They immediately snap to “I do not deserve to have you talk to me like that.” – Which may be partly true. But understand that it’s inevitable. And that’s where grace comes into play. That I treat you with grace when you hurt me, and you treat me with grace when I hurt you.

Entitled people will struggle with this.

3 Steps to Leaving the Land of Entitlement

1. Identify all the things you take for granted.

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. (Deuteronomy 8:10)

Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. (Deuteronomy 8:11)

Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, (Deuteronomy 8:12)

and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, (Deuteronomy 8:13)

then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Deuteronomy 8:14)

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” (Deuteronomy 8:17)

But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, (Deuteronomy 8:18a)

So here we see Moses saying “Hey when you’re enjoying the good life. Don’t forget that it was God who gave you everything. Even your ability to GET wealth is a gift from God.

See because Moses knows how quickly a blessing can become an expectation.

So you fight against that by remembering.

2. Carve out time in your schedule to serve others.

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. (John 13:13)

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. (John 13:14)

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (John 13:15)

How is Your Foot Washing Coming?

If you look at an average week in your life, is there time dedicated to serving others.

Church – By the way, church is one of the BEST ways to do this. The best.

Plenty of people come into the church as consumers, but I would encourage you to think of the church as a place where you’re pouring in to, but also as a place where you pour into others.

You don’t come here just expecting other people to watch your kids, but you contribute, and sometimes YOU watch your kids and other peoples kids.

3. Make room in your heart for more people

If you would imagine your heart as a circle, you could visualize that certain people are inside that circle, and there’s other people who are OUTSIDE the circle.

And how you treat people inside the circle is radically different than how you treat people outside the circle.

Example: Servers @ restaurants.

Think about servers at restaurants. I waited tables for years to get through bible college, and worse yet, I waited tables at a restaurant next to a mega-church. One time instead of a tip, the person wrote on the line : “Here’s a tip: follow Jesus.”

Let’s say you have a friend who just got a job at a restaurant and it’s their first night waiting tables. So you and a few friends show up and asked to be seated in her section. Well she comes up frantic, saying this first night has been a night from hell and she’s so behind on all her tables and she doesn’t know what she’s gonna do! – What do you say to your friend? “Don’t worry about us! Take your time. Deal with those other tables first.” Of course you’ll say that to your friend. Because she’s in your inner circle.

Now imagine that same thing happens but the server is a stranger. You don’t notice it’s busy. You don’t notice your server is frantically running around and sweating. All you notice is that your drinks are taking too long. Before you know it, you get annoyed and stop making eye contact with them. Maybe you make a joke about them, leave a small tip.

Let’s think about those 2 scenarios. What’s the difference? In the first example, you’ve made room for that server inside your heart and in the second example, you haven’t. But we know she’s in SOMEONE’S inner circle, we know SOMEONE loves her, just not us.

Now entitled people have a heart that keeps including less and less people. Think about the grinch who’s heart has grown 3 sizes too small.

But for the Jesus follower, our desire is to open our heart wider and wider to love more and more like Jesus loves.

So then even when you see that lady at the ticket counter, you don’t know her, and she doesn’t know you, but you’ve been filled with Christs love for her, so now all of a sudden you talk to her with the kindness you would offer your own daughter.

Questions to ask

1. If I personally cared about this person, how might I be behaving differently?

Just this past week, I was behind this old lady in this Buick car and she was driving 16 in a 30. And so I sat behind her and I was thinking “Lady, can you go take a nap somewhere?” – But then I thought – Might I feel differently if the old lady in the buick was my granny? I’d have all the time in the world. I would say “I love you, this is not about me, I want you to be safe, take your time.”

Driving close to Church – How our driving changes as soon as we turn onto Tramway and Central.

2. In this situation, how can I value this person above myself? (Philippians 2:3)

Never easy.


As we close I think one of the ways we can wake ourselves up to the goodness of God is to deliberately thank him for those things we take for granted.

And so what I wanted to do to close the service today is to spend a minute and collectively remember how good and faithful God has been.

So I have prepared some statements for specific things. And so what I’m wanting to do is I want to read them and if the statement is true for you, then raise your hand. Then we’ll go on to the next one and you can raise you hand as many times as you want. And as we do this, don’t just think ‘yes’ ‘no’ ‘yes’ ‘no’, but if something is true for you, and you really are thankful for that, bring that gratitude back to the surface of your heart.

  • Thank You God that you blessed me with growing up in a good family.
  • Thank You God for the mentors and key friends that guided my in my faith.
  • Thank You God for the time I walked away from that terrible car crash.
  • Thank You God for the time my wife, sister, or mom survived breast cancer.
  • Thank You God for how you sustained me during that season of unemployment.
  • Thank You God for protecting me from making a complete disaster of my life.
  • Thank You God that in that time I had no money, you sent just the right situation or person to sustain me.
  • Thank You God for protecting my children at school.
  • Thank You God for freeing me from addiction.
  • Thank You God that during that complication with the pregnancy, you kept both the mom and the baby safe.
  • Thank You God for protecting me in my 20’s while I was making terrible decisions.
  • Thank You God that despite hard times, I have never gone hungry.
  • Thank You God for miraculously healing me.