Following up on my commitment from yesterday’s message, I would like to give voice to the topic of entitlement. I want to be careful in working through this message. It would be much more pleasant to write about an energy producer rather than the energy vampire that entitlement seems to be. This also feels like a topic that is easy to sermonize as a clever, or perhaps desperate, attempt to keep it from becoming too personal. To me it is a bit like picking up a snake grabber and reaching into a barrel of rattlesnakes and lifting out a big one. You have to squeeze the snake grabber as tightly as possible and manhandle the snake at just enough distance to keep from getting bitten.
The elephant and rider metaphor really works for me when it comes to understanding the role entitlement plays in thwarting our aspirations. Entitlement has a peculiar nature. It seems to me that the more one is given, the higher the likelihood of one’s sense of entitlement increasing. I don’t know when it happens exactly, but at some point, making gains by the sweat of your brow seems to decrease entitlement’s insatiable appetite. I suspect that an unhealthy dose of entitlement is somehow also correlates to the absence of gratitude.
Entitlement makes sense as a tactic of the elephant because it is not logical. It is driven by feeling not facts. We do things we feel entitled to because we can. Buy personal items on the company credit card. Pull into the intersection when the light is turning red and cuss others who do the same thing. Attack our spouse’s character in an argument. Grab the fourth donut or the third hot dog. Pull up the XXX website…etc. We probably each have our own opinions about what constitutes a healthy sense of entitlement. We could debate what privileges or rights a human being should reasonably expect. But that maybe a red herring. Not that some actions aren’t objectionable. It maybe the attitude behind the action where entitlement crosses an unhealthy or toxic line. My argument would be that entitlement is toxic on a personal level when we expect little to nothing from ourselves and demand everything from other people.
On a macro-level we see entitlement’s ugly head fully reared in the corporate executives who know they are misappropriating funds while a company heads towards bankruptcy, in the police detective who steals narcotics and sells them to make the extra cash he deserves, the secret service agents buying drugs and prostitutes while on duty, the marchers protesting police violence while destroying their own neighborhood, or the politicians funding lavish campaign fundraisers using taxpayer dollars. You know, the typical fare of the nightly news.
Like I said, all great fodder for a sermon, but how do we motivate the elephant or keep that rattlesnake from striking? First, recognize the existential threat of an unchecked sense of entitlement to your aspirations. You don’t grip the snake grabber and pretend snake venom isn’t harmful. It is an appetite. It’s into short-term payoffs that cost very little and sabotage the growth of your character. Living above the lowest levels in life comes from the development of your character. Guilt is the wrong tool to pull out of the tool belt. At least for the awakened soul, entitlement carries the by-product of regret. But just as entitlement brings short-term payoffs, guilt brings temporary solutions. It places the focus backwards. We don’t achieve goals this way. We just end up chasing our tails.
It’s not will power alone. That’s what the rider has. Not the elephant. The first step is a white-hot desire for something different. The second is faith. It is the belief that a higher level of being you is possible. Then comes harmony between the rider, the elephant ant the path. This requires harnessing/repurposing the elephant’s power, which may be 2,000,000 times stronger than the rider’s power (which is still incredibly powerful) and aligning it with the proper path.
If the elephant’s drives/appetites are the lightning. Imagination is the bottle. Imagination (not to be confused with fantasy) trumps the will but when harmonized with the will’s power it begins to move down destiny’s path.
Our rights are a fallacy. They are border bullies standing guard at the edge of the Comfort Zone. The growth of our character (sanctification) happens outside on the other side of the border.