The Entitlement Generation

We live with the “entitlement generation” in our culture today. For some years, people under 30 have been trained by the culture to believe that life owes them something. In short, they’ve been trained to think that their personal feelings and desires should be the guiding principle of their entire lives. They’ve carried this attitude into every area of their lives too – with devastating results. For example, in many cases young workers who get jobs today are often the kinds of employees who resent being asked to do anything by the boss. They somehow think a job is just a means for someone to give them money, a way for society to continue giving them an allowance. They don’t see their work as serving their employers interests. Now, of course, in the employers mind, he/she hires someone so that a job will get done – so the employer will make a profit. But in the entitlement generation’s eyes the employer provides a job so the employee will have spending money. The entitlement generation thinks “Jobs exist for my personal benefit”. Too often, they are mystified when they get fired and even more amazed when they find out no one else wants to hire them either.

This often carries over into personal relationships as well. Our entire culture is wrapped around the idea that we must “be true to ourselves.” In previous generations, this wasn’t necessarily a bad idea. After all, if you are passionate about being a teacher, then you should be a teacher and not a brick-layer. But the entitlement generation believes that being “true to ourselves” means allowing our desires to rule our decisions. Thus, if I fall in love I need to be true to myself and follow that love – because love is good. It doesn’t matter the person saying this is a married man and being “true to self” would mean leaving a wife and children. It doesn’t matter that these actions will emotionally and spiritually devastate a wife and children because as far as the entitlement generation is concerned being true-to-self trumps everything.

In the same way, our culture has trained an entire generation to be so completely self-centered they cannot even grasp what Jesus meant when He said, “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.” It should come as no surprise to us that many people think that God owes them something too. The idea of “serving God” is foreign or, at least, misunderstood. There are some who think serving God is some sort of ceremonial fulfillment they must accomplish…to get what they want. Idol worshippers in all cultures and time periods have fallen prey to this kind of thinking. They believe that sacrifice and ceremony will placate the gods…so they can get what they want.

The one and only true God will not be manipulated in this fashion. He said “I am not interested in sacrifice. If I were hungry I would not tell you…” What God wants is for us to abandon our quest to control Him or to gain some sort of benefit from Him by keeping rules or giving big gifts. Instead, He wants a genuine relationship – and that requires GIVING of our hearts to Him. You can’t fake that.

If all I did in my marriage was “give to get” then, if my relationship survived at all, it would be mighty shallow. What my wife wants is for me to give of myself to her BECAUSE I love her – not so I can gain something. Now – it is true, I certainly do gain something by the investment of time, energy and care I put into our relationship but the center of what I do is not a means to get something for myself. I give – because I love my wife.

 This is the difference between loving God and just following a list of rules or traditions. It’s all about our motivations. So I say it’s time we began to pray for a new heart – a heart transformed by God so that what we do and why we do it is ALWAYS coming from a heart that loves God. This sort of heart can drive a believer to sacrifice his or her very life for the cause of our great King. Let’s keep praying for that sort of heart.

 Remember “we are what we are becoming.” The more we pray for this heart, the more our efforts will flow from a heart that loves God. And this is what builds relationship – not entitlements.


About Patrick C Marks

The basics are…really basic. I’m a husband, father of 5, teacher, pastor, writer and a musician. I am also…bald...I have a crooked back (had to wear a back brace when I was a kid – ultimate geek with a piece of plastic and aluminum that made me look like a cyborg)...I dye my goatee so I don’t look like I have one foot in the grave and I would do much better if I actually USED the gym membership I pay for. I blog about things that matter to me and I write everything from non-fiction books about Evolution and Creation to short stories about being chased by bears. In short - I don't fit many molds but I can be entertaining.
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6 Responses to The Entitlement Generation

  1. Kristen Johnson says:

    Yikes-this is a bit depressing, and I’m going to disagree with you, because I think this viewpoint is too generalized. Granted, I don’t know many people under the age of 30, but I do know all my nieces and nephews (all under 30) and they are each blessings to me and they don’t seem to have this attitude at all.

    I just read yesterday about a 12 year old girl who builds houses in Haiti. And, Two little girls in my knitting club (~12 years old) knit caps for cancer patients at Stanford Hospital. And, then there’s the little girl in Washington State I read about recently who raised millions of dollars, on her own, to provide clean drinking water for people in Africa. Those stories inspire me, much more so than focusing on the bad things.

    • Well this is obviously a generalized viewpoint. There will certainly be exceptions to any generalization about any generation (just ask anyone who grew up in the 60’s). I’ve seen many examples myself including the two teens that just accompanied us to work, for free, building houses for the poor on the San Carlos Indian Reservation. The attitude I’ve described here is one I’ve seen too many times when I was a high school teacher and I’ve seen this attitude develop over time. The point of this article is to be warned against it by describing it and the dangers it poses, not to just complain about it.

    • Gord says:

      But society IS heading toward this direction and is already there. Francis Schaeffer warns the Christian populace that to ignore it is to fall into it. Ignorance is not bliss, it is an open door to the darkness, which is exactly what none of us want. He says that if we recognize the godless direction of society, we can make our message meet their need. There has never been a more opportune time such as this, when people are engulfed in a hopeless doctrine, to demonstrate to them there is hope in Christ. And with intelligent arguments, we can show them why. They are at a point where every philosophy has come up with literally nothing, but we have something that demonstrably works.

  2. Gord says:

    For believers the big LIE is that God will make us do something we don’t want to do. Maybe like becoming a missionary in the mosquito-infested jungles of the Amazon, when we are already allergic to anything that floats in the air. Truth be told, He will lead us on in joyful expectation, not dread. For those who do not believe, the big lie of course is that there is no God who is watching, and even if He were He does not speak. Events happen at random, and there is no order, there is even doubt that we exist. Since the philosophers have been so kind as to point out this utter futility of life, society has moved toward the only moral basis there is left, and that is experience/feelings. If you can call that a basis. Well you can see this in Western churches too, as their worship becomes me-based and feelings oriented. As the preaching departs from whatever might scare away the youth, spiritual texts have become self-help buffets. I find myself constantly seeking out the old master writers, one of which I hope Patrick is becoming. Thank the Lord when I was first seeking God there were some selfless warriors around to rescue me. A true seeker can spot them, you know. It’s kind of a spiritual thing. 😉

    • Thanks Gord – and I agree with your summary. Emotions are certainly not bad things, since God authored them and experiences them Himself. But He is not ruled by His emotions and neither should we be ruled by ours. I have indeed seen this creep into the church and while I can’t claim perfection as a Pastor I can claim a genuine desire not to fall into this trap.

      • Gord says:

        I love these discussions so much.
        I guess what I am saying in that regard is that the western church as a whole, including so I am told the European, has adopted something of the philosophy that if there is no God and no way to find God then feelings/experience is paramount. They would NEVER say that, but it has crept in. So, we need to be aware, and I keep ringing the bell heh heh. Thank the Lord there are those Christian assemblies that look at both intelligence and passion coupled with scriptural accuracy and a yielding to the Holy Spirit. My son Richard has some wild stories to tell you, if you ever get to chat with him on this.
        You know, the whole point of being a pastor or a Christian in any office or function, is exactly that we aren’t perfect. That’s where the whole gospel sits. As my children, or my students if I were still a Sunday school teacher, see my imperfections, they also see me heavily lean on Christ after I have failed (because I surely will). Isn’t that what I want them to do, lean on God? Yes! So my failure, unintentional as it is, is preaching the gospel exactly as the Lord intended. No unbeliever wants to see a perfect Christian, that is useless to them. They can say, ‘hey you’re like me! you’re not just coping like I am, you actually have victory! How?’ So there ya go.
        The gospel is good news. The worse the world gets, the better our news looks to them. It’s not we who should be adopting their philophies to draw them in, it’s they who should be looking to us for answers to something that has no answers.

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